Sunday, July 10, 2011

Movie Review: Dawn of the Dead

 Dawn of the Dead is by far one of the best re-makes, period.  The updated version, released in 2004, is arguably even better than the original.  The film is beautifully shot, the acting and script are top-notch, the special-effects are impressive without being over-the-top, and the story takes the viewer on a roller-coaster ride of highs-and-lows.  A plague of an unknown origin and nature has struck mankind, infecting its victims, killing them, and then resurrecting them as flesh-eating zombies.  A small group of survivors makes its way to a shopping-mall where they hope to hold-out until help arrives. 

 The films opening is disturbing.  The audience, already knowing what to expect (it is a remake of a classic film from a well-tread genre after-all), is allowed to witness the day prior to the end-of-the-world.  Signs that they recognize are ignored by the characters, who lack the aforementioned knowledge about zombies and are clueless to what is obvious to the viewer.  Everything seems fine for the first 15 minutes or so.  The lead actress, Sarah Polley, goes to sleep with her character's husband.  The next day, all hell breaks loose literally from the minute they open their eyes.  

 This film is also exceptional that it is completely about the story at-hand.  There is no political message here, no public service announcements about the environment or the government... just a handful of regular people thrown into a very disturbing situation trying to get by.  The lack of a "message" allows for a film full of great scenes and great lines:

 Ken: Is everyone there dead?

 Steve: Well, dead-ish.

 Ken: (in a more firm tone) Is everyone there dead?

 Steve: Yeah, in the sense that they all sort of, uh... fell down... and then got up... and started eating each other.

 The cinematography is wonderful.  Ving Rhames gives a top-notch performance, with the rest of the cast providing realistic and moving performances as well.  The special-effects and make-up crews clearly went all out, providing believable and often amusing zombies (at one point in the film, pot-shots are taken at zombies who look like famous people).  Mark Jonathan Davis and Lounge Against the Machine performing Disturbed's Down with a Sickness was an excellent touch during the films repose when the character's relaxed into their situation.

 Check out Dawn of the Dead.  It takes George Romero's original to the next level. 

1 comment:

  1. I have to agree with you. As a huge Romero fan, I was skeptical when it was scheduled to be released a year in advance. It's rare that a remake surpasses the original. I've watched this so much, I had to buy a second copy after the first was worn by wear. This is hands-down one of my favorite zombie films, and I'm down-right fanatical about zombies.

    There are so many great lines, and the characters are dynamic. ALL OF THEM. Also rare. There was no dead weight being carried by supporting actors.

    Steve and Ana were among my favorite characters, and was waiting for the scene in which Ana plugs in him the head for being such a douchey dick. haha. I particularly liked the celebrity take-down with Andy's sniper rifle.

    Steve: "Tell him to get Rosie O'Donnell"

    ha! Instant classic.

    The original Dawn of the Dead mall scenes were kind of boring, short of playing dodge-the-zombie for supplies. All of the mall scenes were interesting in the remake, and many of them genuinely funny.

    Ana: "Oh Fuck, Oh Fuck" after harpooning the huge woman brought in in the wheel barrow.