Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dawn Of The Dead (2004) - 3.5/5

Despite my everlasting and immense love for George A. Romero's classic zombie film "Dawn Of The Dead", I have to admit that Zack Snyder's more intense remake doesn't make me want to vomit obscenities and curse the name of Hollywood like some of the bigger horror remakes. In many ways, I respect this film and what it did quite a bit. Dare I say this without the zombie elite's a pretty solid film. It's intense, fun, and an overly stylish new vision of the classic tale that modernizes it with relative ease. It's not as good as the original (few zombie films are), but it works the nerves and connections just enough for a rather enjoyable horror time.

When a rapid spreading affliction begins turning the people of the world into flesh craving zombies, a group of survivors lead by a nurse (Polley), a police officer (Rhames), and an TV salesman (Weber) take shelter in a mall to sort out what their next step is. As the zombie chaos spreads, the group will have to make decisions about their future that may leave a few of them joining the hordes out to eat them.

For the most part, film fans hate remakes. At this point in my life, I could care less if its a remake or not. In fact, "Dawn Of The Dead" does the remake right. It takes the heart and concepts of the original, but twists it in new and modern ways. That's right, its not a shot for shot remake. Keeps it fresh and fast, something that I sincerely appreciate.

On the plus side of things, "Dawn Of The Dead" certainly makes things exciting. Running zombies that flash across the screen with blood, teeth, and creepy eyes are the intensity of the film adding a new layer of modern "speed" to the zombie craze. The plot progresses relatively quickly too as our zombie outbreak descends within a matter of minutes on film - including a fantastic opening sequence that throws the viewers into the chaos head first - and from there the film spends little time on punching through the motions even ending on a wicked cool ride in armored vehicles through hordes of the dead complete with chainsaws, shotguns, and flaming propane tanks. Zack Snyder certainly knows visual flair too and adds a nice modern touch to the film really giving us one intense ride.

On the downside of things, "Dawn Of The Dead" severely aches for some great characters. Occasionally the writing loves to lower its IQ for the sake of the intensity (like an asinine sequence where a young woman drives a truck into the streets to save a dog), but mostly this film lacks strong character work. The acting is fine and many sequences are piled in to serve as our window into the survivors, but there is simply too many characters to get it all in. There is really no lead in the film and the few we do follow rarely emote the sympathetic tone needed for us to truly root for them to kick ass and survive. By the end of the film, I was more or less rooting for the mall security guard C.J and his anti-hero tactics just because he seemed to have a bit of faux depth.

"Dawn Of The Dead" remains one of the better remakes out there of a classic horror film because it wasn't afraid to deviate its story while retaining the mindset of the original one. Some of the deviations work, the higher intensity and the rather ill thought through final run for the dock for example, but some of them find themselves running into issues like too many characters or a dumb ass subplot featuring a zombie baby (you read that right...). In the end, the film is immensely enjoyable with its fast paced chaos even if it never touches the glory of the original one. Fans might enjoy it, but its more or less best to get the younger audience into the idea.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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