Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
Well, just a few more days and we’ll all get a chance to peek at this one. I plan to see it this weekend, hopefully with Mrs. Moriarty, Tom Joad and his wife, and any other friends we can gather up. Even if we don’t end up liking it, it should be fun to see this sort of film with a group of good friends.
Which isn’t to say I think it’s going to be bad. I dunno. Some people seem to dig it, and some people don’t. Personally, I think remakes can go either way. I thought THE TEXAS BLAIR WITCH CHAINSAW MASSACRE PROJECT 2003 was dogshit on fire and then shit on again. Hated it. But I think THE LADYKILLERS looks awesome. And it doesn’t depend on your affection for the original, either. I love the first THE FLY, and I think the remake is genius. It all comes down to the film itself, and first up today, we’ve got our very own Quint with his take on things...
Ahoy, squirts... Quint here, fresh off of tonight's preview screening of the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake and I can say this one will be a divider. I don't see too much middle of the road on this film. Based on the audience we had last night, you're either going to flat out love this film or really dislike it. I didn't see anybody that was "Oh... it was pretty OK..."
I read the script to this thing almost a year ago. I thought it was fun, epic and could be an entertaining ride. But it was not DAWN OF THE DEAD. There were some terrible characters (the most broad stereotypes like the gun-toting gangsta and the Rebel Flag waving redneck racist, etc), terrible dialogue, but really smart situations and fun set pieces. So, I was torn on the script.
The movie is better than the screenplay. Gone are the most broad stereotypical characters, the worst of them at any rate. But also gone are some of my favorite set pieces... The idea that human zombies are only interested in living humans, not animals... animal zombies likewise are only interested in other like animal zombies... is only touched upon. There was a great sequence in the script where the people in the mall have to get food over to a friend in a gun shop a quarter of a mile or so away. They figure out they can use a dog to run over with food and run back with ammo. In the film that just barely happens, but they didn't go to that next step... The zombie dogs didn't come to ruin the fun.
But, I do think it's a fair trade... take out the rappin' gangsta stereotype persona... make that character more real and not a cartoon... take out the hillbilly fuck-heads and give them more of a real base as well. That's more important to the story than having an extra 5 minutes of badass zombie dog action.
The main problem with this film is lack of any sort of real character development. The biggest scene showing characters getting to know each other takes place in a 60 second montage overridden by horrendous happy-time music. There are two young characters that we never see talking, but right before the climax of the movie she is put in a dangerous situation and he exclaims, "My girlfriend!"
I was like, "What? When did that happen?" If director Zack Snyder or screenwriter James Gunn had decided to spend even two minutes with these characters as they console each other or get to know each other, then maybe I would have cared when she's in danger.
Sarah Polley is good and shares an uncanny resemblance to Gaylen Ross (star of the original DAWN OF THE DEAD) in many scenes, but she's not really given anything to do. Matter of fact, her character suffers probably the most in terms of the logic argument. She sees her husband get bitten, die then jump right back up as a zombie. She watches TV and hears Tom Savini tell them how he had to put down people he knew... But then when a fat lady is wheeled into the mall with a huge chunk taken out of her arm and already made up with the zombie coloring... she seems surprised that the lady becomes a zombie! What! How could that be!?!?
Ving Rhames was Snyder's masterstroke of casting. I guarantee you that Rhames in 90% of the reason why people are really ignoring all the faults of the movie because he is just so amazingly in control and tough as nails... He's the reason for this movie to exist. He's just cool as all hell. And the only really interesting relationship in this film (not surprisingly, it's also the only one that seems to be given any time at all) is his long distance friendship with Andy, the owner of the gun store a quarter of a mile away via binoculars and dry erase boards.
There's also supposed to be some sort of friendship (maybe more) between Sarah Polley and Jake Weber, but once again we never really see them connect. There is no investment in the characters, so when they're in trouble I find I don't give a shit. I just want to see zombies get nailed and maybe more throat-tearings, etc.
In short, the film is all about the flash, all about the spectacle. Which is fine. I'm all for a mindless, inconsistent popcorn flick. I just have a problem when that mindless popcorn flick is a remake of one of the smartest genre films of all time. The baggage they bring with the title could not be overcome by me.
The audience, however, ate this film up like they haven't seen anything like this before. I have to wonder if a studio OKed an original gore flick (mindless or not) and backed it like they did DAWN OF THE DEAD (including the endless marketing), would they not have gotten a similar result? It's obvious that almost none of the people in the audience had seen the original film and the remake has only three things in common: zombies, a mall and the title... so why did this have to be DAWN OF THE DEAD? When you see the film, you'll see how little they use the mall. It could have been anywhere.
The kills are really good in the first quarter of the film, then it all becomes about flash editing and headshots. Too bad they couldn't have gotten a director that didn't throw in shitty heavy metal music at inopportune times and that actually lit the mall in any sort of menacing way. It's so bright all the time. Where was the atmosphere?
The zombies themselves are kinda cool, but they lack any sort of character. One after another after another after another... it could have been the same guy 98% of the time and I wouldn't have been able to tell. There are one or two that they make stand out (the little girl at the beginning... one towards the end of the movie that's clinging onto a bus), but the rest are just there to run real fast.
That's another thing... The logic behind the fast moving zombies is one I can accept. They die and are immediately resurrected as flesh-eaters, so the muscles don't have time to deteriorate, rigor mortis doesn't set in... That's an interesting take... But how come at the end of the movie, a month or more after the epidemic started, do all the zombies run like they did at the beginning? You could make the argument that not all of them have been dead for that month, but a damn lot of them would have been. Yet they all run and jump and are more flexible than I am. I don't mind changing things up, but at least live by the rules you set up for yourself.
The whole movie, to me, is just a series of half-assed situations, characters and ideas. The original cast member cameos (especially the one by Ken Foree, who could have been used to great effect if they hadn't just thrown him in there for 30 seconds) are so half-assed they might as well have left them out. Matter of fact, the best cameo in the film belongs to the GON traffic chopper. The great majority of the characters are half-assed. The only two that have any sort of real personality or arch are Ving Rhames and Michael Kelly (who plays CJ, an asshole at the beginning, but not the asshole at the end). Everyone else is just zombie fodder.
In the end, I could have forgiven damn near everything in this film if I could have separated the original in my mind and was able to accept this as the mindless rollercoaster it was trying to be. It's not wholly successful in that regard either (dropping the rules it sets up for that universe whenever they become inconvenient, making smart character do stupid things for a jump, etc), but I would have enjoyed the film a helluva lot more if a small amount of effort was put into the story to remove it from the original.
I realize that this is only my opinion and it is my fault that I can not separate the original from the remake, but it's not fair for the filmmakers to ask the audience to forget the film they're remaking. If they want an audience to start a film off with a clean slate, then make it something original. THE BLOB remake is a goofy, cheesy movie... But the original was also cheesy. THE THING took the original in a different direction and become something greater (in my eye) than the source material. It was also handled with care by a director who knows how to work atmosphere (at least he did back then) and character. CHAINSAW was at least shot well, though it falls into the same terrible clichÃ© bullshit that DAWN does.
So, take what I've said for whatever it's worth. I'm expecting a lot of you folks to disagree with me on this, but these are my true conflicted feelings on the film. I'll always have my original (can't wait for that upcoming super-duper Anchor Bay set). That's something, at least!
email: When there's no more room in hell... drop Quint an email. He has a couch you can crash on! Email Quint here!!!
Next up, we’ve got our friend from Seattle, the one and only Vern...
A few months ago I would not think I would be saying this. But I just saw the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake, and I did not want to perpetrate violent acts against anybody afterwards. Not the Scooby Doo guy, not the commercial director guy, not anybody. If the Scooby Doo dude would've been standing right there when I came out, and there was a clear opening to punch the guy hard in the balls, or toss him through a windshield like Steven Seagal did to that pimp in the opening scene of OUT FOR JUSTICE, I still wouldn't have done it. I would've been like, "It's cool man, it's cool."
That's high praise. I would not punch the writer of this movie in the balls. Put that on the poster, fuckers.
To give the folks at home an idea where I'm coming from, I could not have given the same offer of peace and understanding to Michael Bay or whatsisdick, the kraut guy from the C+C Music Factory videos, if they had been standing outside of the theater after I saw their remake of TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE. You can read my review on this very web sight, I mean I was fucking pissed. I am not one of these forgiving "just go in with an open mind, don't hold it to high expectations, just assume it will suck, it's okay that it is worthless garbage, just have fun!" guys. I fucking despised that moronic pile of filth. That was a movie clearly made by people who had no idea what is good about the original. NO idea. There would've been some SERIOUS ball punching after that screening if the opportunity had presented itself. I'm not a guy to roll over.
You see, I come from what the kids call "the old school." I definitely got a purist side to me. And I still don't think it's fucking funny that these jokers somehow got a hold of my list of favorite movies and started remaking them all. Just to fuck with me. "You see this Vern, this is the respect we have for your favorite movie. We're giving it to the guy who did fucking Scooby Doo. We got the guy who wrote Garfield on deck to remake Once Upon a Time in the West. Ha ha ha, sucker. Have a good life."
But you know what, their little game backfired because the movie actually turned out pretty good. It's not the masterpiece that the original is. It's not as smart or as scary. But it's not some Brendan Fraser Mummy type shit. It's not some we-still-haven't-gotten-over-SCREAM shit either. It's more like some let's tell a different story about some guys in a mall during a zombie holocaust type shit. I thought it was better than 28 DAYS LATER, which was decent but definitely overrated. And don't worry it's not even worth putting in the same sentence with. RESIDENT EVIL or HOUSE OF THE DEAD. (See, I made that two separate sentences.) This is a real zombie movie.
But you gotta do a zombie movie right. And there are two big time changes in the premise for this one that had me worried. The movie starts out before the zombies show up, for one example. In other words, the beginning of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. One thing I love about the real DAWN OF THE DEAD is there is no point where things are going well in the world. When it starts, the world is already overrun by zombies, people are panicking, even the sets of TV shows are out of control. When it ends, things aren't any better. In this one, they give you a couple minutes to breathe first. And when the shit hits, everybody is just beginning to understand what's going on. Instead of being at the point where they've tried to hold on to society for a few weeks, but have given up hope and decided to run away crying like babies. The way these guys do it works surprisingly well though, and when the title went on the screen I felt like these guys had earned the cheering that it received. Good job so far boys.
The other change that is more important, is what the fuck is up with these running zombies? RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD had fast moving zombies, and that was cool because you'd never seen it before. It was a way to distinguish it from Mr. Romero's untoppable masterpieces. But that should've been that. People gotta stop doing this shit, because everybody knows that real zombies are slow and lumbering. They don't run up fences and jump off them! They don't hang from pipes! That's fucking bullshit, man! No zombie hangs from pipes! If 28 DAYS LATER jumped off a bridge, does that mean you'd jump off a bridge? Come on Scooby Doo guy, you know better than that.
Seriously, the fast moving zombies changes the whole premise because in the real DAWN OF THE DEAD, the zombies aren't much of a physical threat. That's not the point. In fact, our boys are able to run around the mall and shoot these things for fun. They aren't afraid to go out into the zombies. They do it all the time. But the zombies are scary because no matter how many you kill, there will always be more. And that is a problem, in my opinion. And in the opinion of that guy on the TV in the beginning who says they should nuke the city.
So anyway once again a group of survivors holes up in a mall, barricading themselves away from the zombies. The two main characters are Sarah Polley and Ving Rhames, and these are two reasons why the movie works. Mr. Rhames especially adds alot of credibility to this movie. He looks like a complete badass, and he's good at giving tough guy speeches. He's a real actor but he's paid his dues too, I mean he was in PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS. You believe that he would be able to take on even these silly jumping and running super zombies, and that he would be an honorable guy who you'd want to have on your team (the non-zombie team) anyway. And Ms. Polley is a good actress who can pull off the moral center role, the one that tries to take care of everybody because she's a nurse. Also Mekhi Phifer is good in it but that's almost not even worth mentioning because it goes without saying, if it's a movie, there's a good chance Mekhi Phifer will be in it and do a good job. This guy will do absolutely anything. I mean, HONEY? BRIAN'S SONG? CARMEN: A HIPHOPERA? I really think him and Samuel L. Jackson just have web sights where you pay them a certain amount by credit card or PayPal and then they automatically have to be in your movie. How else would Jackson end up in that Ashley Judd movie? Or BASIC? Or any of those I-can't-believe-Moriarty-actually-owns-that-on-DVD type movies? Anyway, it's a good cast.
And it's a pretty good script too, believe it or not. There are some smart new additions to the story. I especially liked the communication between the mall people and this guy Andy who's holed up in a nearby gun store. I think Harry even gave this away on here a long time ago, but it still worked for me. They start to bond with this guy by holding up signs for him, and even start to play games with him. This may be the best part of the movie because it has that spirit of the real DAWN OF THE DEAD, that idea that even in the most horrible circumstances us humans can figure out some way to get by and to have a sense of humor about it. There are some smartass lines in this movie, mostly coming from a token asshole character, but fortunately there's other laughs that are more like the real movie, where it's funny because you know in the same situation you might do the same thing. It's funny the same way real life is, not the way a sitcom supposedly is.
The remake goes in alot of directions that the real movie didn't. They got a pregnant woman in both, and they go for more of a cheap thrill with this one. But not as bad as you might think. There are other things that come up that make you worry. Like at one point there is a dog and you have no choice but to think oh shit, they're gonna go with a zombie dog. But don't worry, they take the high road - No Zombie Dog Avenue. Then the last section of the movie they attempt an escape from the mall and hopefully this doesn't fuck up Mr. Romero's plans for his next movie. Otherwise I will change my mind about these filmatists.
There are kind of too many characters in here. Some of them you don't really know who they are and some of them seem to disappear for too long. And one of them goes through a transformation from selfish asshole to self-sacrificing hero, apparently for no reason. But oh well. I liked this idea of alot of people being in the mall. The government's plans have failed but here these people are setting up their own safe zone.
There's really not as much subtext as in the real movie. Definitely none of the satire against consumerism. There are a couple of shots of the flag that made me wonder if they were trying to draw some parallels to 9-11. Like we're gonna pull up our bootstraps and take care of this zombie problem, and put a boot up your ass in the name of the U S of A or something like that. But I don't know. Obviously not every zombie movie has to be political, but I always liked how each of Mr. Romero's dead pictures was a story about its time. The racial politics in NIGHT, the consumerism in DAWN, the military themes in DAY. We sure live in some interesting times now so it would be nice to see a dead movie about today. Maybe this is the DAWN OF THE DEAD for our time then - the one that is either too afraid or too stupid to say anything, even though there's so much to say. Oh well, maybe Romero will get to make his zombie movie for the 2000s.
The style of the movie obviously is more modern, and that can be good and bad. They use the computers for some good little bits where they illustrate the mayhem going on in the distance - overhead shots of car crashes, huge crowds of zombies, burning buildings, explosions, etc. I love the feeling these things give that a constant stream of shit is flying directly into the fan here, and on the next block, and on the block after that, and all the way into downtown. But I do have to say that alot of this stuff looks really phoney, like glorified Grand Theft Auto. You feel a little distanced because it really doesn't seem real. Cool, but not real.
Most of it is not too MTVed or Michael Bayed up, but I wish they hadn't gone with the Private Ryan shaky cam for the climax. And the TV stuff didn't have to have the shit digitized out of it. I woulda liked more TV coverage. And by the way SOMEBODY coulda cheered for Ken Foree's cameo. I mean come on kids.
I guess some people will be wondering how violent the movie is. After all the real movie was released unrated and here we have an R-rated studio movie in post-Janet's Boob America. Well, it was possible for this hyped up screening audience to cheer every time there was a graphic zombie head shot. Which was alot of times, but if you think about it you just couldn't do that in the real movie, because you'd be clapping way too much. Your hands would get sore. Still, this one is alot more violent than most horror movies these days. Plenty of impaling, too. However it could definitely use some intestines and brain eating. Those are two items sorely missing.
I think my biggest criticism would have to be in the zombie department. Which is a pretty big department. I definitely think they coulda done better on these zombies. In the Romero movies, I don't ever think that these are guys having fun acting like zombies - they're just zombies. You don't see guys who don't have the walk down, or who look like they're thinking about something. They teach their zombie actors well. They know their zombie shit. I mean think about Bub in DAY OF THE DEAD! These zombies can ACT. In this one though, alot of times I would see these guys and just think yeah, that guy has makeup on, like a zombie. I swear to god there was one crowd shot where a guy right in the middle near the top was doing a zombie saunter, like he was supposed to be a gay stereotype zombie, or a zombie on ecstasy or something. They need better zombie classes for these actors.
It is also worth pointing out that alot of the things that make the real DAWN OF THE DEAD so great are not repeated in this movie. I mentioned before there's not any scenes where the guys run around and shoot the zombies (or run over them) just for fun. More surprisingly, they don't take much advantage of the mall. There is one little montage but these people aren't too imaginative about what to do. One of the great things about the real movie is that it acts out every good materialist's dream of spending the night in a mall and having all those consumer items at your disposal. You see them running all over the place stocking up on TVs, wearing fur coats, pretending to rob the bank, playing on the escalator, knocking a zombie into the fountain, shooting mannequins on the ice skating rink... it's alot of fun. And they don't really do that in this one.
But you know what, this time, I actually think that's a good thing. Because I know there are still gonna be some stupid kids who will see the real thing and say "Oh, the new one is better." And they'll be wrong. But it's cool that they left alot of the best ideas untouched, so the kids can enjoy them for the first time when their parents sit their punk asses down and make them watch Romero's movie. With the CHAIN SAW remake, I couldn't fucking believe they left out the dinner scene, and then didn't give you anything worthwhile in its place. For this one, they don't come up with something BETTER than shooting mannequins in the ice skating rink, but they come up with plenty of good things for us to enjoy watching. It's a good time at the movies, it really is.
No DAWN fanatic is gonna like this one better than the original. Unless they're a moron. But you can enjoy it in the way some of us enjoy the remake of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. It's not as good but it's an entertaining alternate take on the same idea. This one is a much less faithful remake with very few scenes that come directly from the real movie(although it has a couple little parts that actually come from NIGHT). I guess that's part of why it works. For CHAIN SAW they have these characters that they have to recreate. And obviously these jokers who direct JC Penney commercials don't know enough about characters to make somebody as good as Leatherface, the Cook or the Hitchhiker, or for that matter Chop Top. R. Lee Ermey is good, but he's no replacement for any of those guys. With DAWN you don't have the same problem, because as much as I love Peter and the rest of them, it's really the idea of the movie that makes it so great. The situation of the zombies and the mall and what not. So remaking it isn't quite as suicidal.
So there you go. When there's no more room in hell, the assholes will remake perfect movies. And very occasionally, I will let them get away with it. These assholes have a free pass. I'm letting them off. It's cool man, it's cool. Go with God.
And if this screening is any indication, this remake's gonna be a monster fuckin hit. I got there an hour early and the line was clear around the block. And then everybody cheered all through the movie, at the end, and after the credits. I actually didn't hear anybody saying it was bad (and alot of people were a little TOO excited about it). Of course, it was a pretty rabid crowd. You should've seen these kids from the local top 40 station trying to ask trivia questions... about their station! There were 500 people yelling "What does this have to do with zombies?" and even "BRAINS!" (wrong movie, right food). I thought these intern kids were gonna run out the emergency exit and take off in the party van.
Anyway, we can hope this will pave the way for Mr. Romero's return. If not, maybe they'll remake DAY OF THE DEAD with less overacting and more everything else. I wanna play the clown zombie. But I don't do running or jumping zombies so you might have to use a stunt double for that shit.
Hmmm... pretty even split there. Let’s see what some other folks have to say, like Pyul McTackle...
Constant AICN whipping boy James Gunn wrote the script, a completely untested and brand spanking new director helmed it and it’s a remake of a film that is treated like the Citizen Kane of zombie movies by many hard core film geeks. So this films not only going to suck, it’s going to go down in AICN history as one of the worst films of all time, right?
Nope. Not a bit of it. Dawn of the Dead rocks. Hard.
What? Did I just write those words? Did I just SERIOUSLY write those words? Yes, folks, I did. And I meant them. This movie is seriously one truckload of fun. But to elaborate, I have to go to the original material. You see, I’m not the worlds biggest fan of the original. Oh, I like it quite a bit, but I just don’t love it. I never really took issue with the idea of a remake because in my mind they desecrated that sacred ground over a decade ago with Tom Savini’s remake of Night of the Living Dead. Now, I really dig Savini’s remake, but Night of the Living Dead was always a film that I felt was so perfect it didn’t NEED to be remade. But it was, and once you’ve dug up the body, you might as well go to town. Dawn of the Dead never sat right with me. Like I said, I dug it quite a bit, but as with many well regarded horror films of the 70’s, I felt there were tonal inconsistencies. Dawn was such a great serious film riddled with moments of awkward camp like undead Hare Krishna’s and SWAT Team snipers that can readily perform abortions. It was just odd, and I always felt that without those few moments, the film would be truly great. So in my mind, it was somewhat ripe to be remade. Not that I was ready to accept the writer of Scooby Doo and The Specials as the man to do it.
But, man, did this work. And what made it work is that while this is a remake of a Romero film this ISN’T an attempt to make one. Instead, this is the John Carpenter film we all wish John Carpenter still made. Mixing in elements of The Thing, Assault on Precinct 13 and Escape from New York, this film becomes simply another segment of the Romeroverse, another story told in the ongoing saga of the end of the world. So why not call it something different as Harry suggested in his script review here http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=13363 ? Well, quite simply, this movie borrows it’s premise straight from the original and calling it anything different would still get it tagged as a Dawn of the Dead ripoff. So why the hell not go full tilt and immediately draw the comparison from the get go? But while the premise is exactly the same, and there are a few minor, borrowed elements (albeit all of which are treated differently) like the fun in the mall, a pregnant women, and an escape attempt, the bulk of this movie is very different. For one, while this is survival horror, it is entirely laden with action that doesn’t just involve screaming and running. The action is tense and the zombies are fast (and occasionally creative). This film is less about the angst and woe of the last stand of humanity and more about fear and ass kicking.
And the kills in this range from the wonderfully painful to the downright cringe inducing. Sure, some of them look somewhat digital, but you realize that they have to. There are bits in this movie that you could never have stuntmen do, like a long shot of backing over zombies in a truck, bits that are just both cool and darkly humorous but also provide a genuine feeling of “HOLY FUCK! THEY’RE EVERYWHERE!” But it also has a soul. You feel for several of these characters. There’s a genuine feeling of loss and a lack of hope that guts those that are still alive.
Sarah Polley is wonderful, bringing the great solid strong leading lady with flaws charm that she has done many times before. Ving Rhames is fantastic, with Director Zack Snyder letting him be all the badass he can be. Here Ving exemplifies the John Carpenter quality I was talking about, proving to embody all the best that John Carpenter poured into his serious heroes. And Mekhi Phifer brings just the right amount of pathos and desperation to round things out.
This movie really caught me off guard. I wanted it to be good, but I just wasn’t convinced going in. Now I am. This movie’s going to clean up. While hardcore Romero fans may find themselves dissatisfied with this, most moviegoers are going to find this a fun, actiony, creepy zombie film that grabs you from the start and never lets go.
For me, the new Dawn of the Dead remake is a 50/50 split of love and hate. As a Romero fan, and a general despiser of remakes, I wanted this to be terrible. I wanted it to fail. But I also wanted it to be good because I love zombie movies and this one looked like it could be a step in the right direction, away from CGI and back to basic makeup effects. Not to mention the hope that if this makes some money, Romero might get some funding for a real new Dead film. After seeing a preview last night I am still torn. I enjoyed a lot of it but the problems I brought into the theater still remain.
First, the gripes. This movie should not be called Dawn of the Dead. The only connections were zombies and mall. That’s it. The plot and characters were completely different. There was no not-so-subtle social commentary. There was no real camaraderie between the characters. Hell, there were barely any individual characters at all. I can’t remember half of the names of the characters if they were even mentioned. There was just a bunch of zombie food running around and that’s fine but that’s not what the Dead films were about. Also, they changed the whole zombie concept completely. Not only do these zombies run, the only way to become a zombie is be to bitten by one. This reduces the zombie mythos to an infection ala 28 Days Later. Why claim to be making a remake when you are going to change the fundamental structures of the original?
I have a list of nit-picky points, like why is everyone a master marksman? And why do the mall security guards have guns? But I generally let that kind of thing go. The only other thing that really bothered me was the snotty, rich, yuppie character. Maybe it’s just me but it seemed like they were trying really hard to make him as Bruce Campbelly as possible. The guy looked like a young Bruce, was sarcastic and cynical, and even used a fucking chainsaw!!
All of these things aside, the movie was actually pretty cool. There was plenty of gore, though not nearly as much as the original, and there was lots of over the top moments not seen in mainstream horror for a long time. There’s really nothing like a good close up of a zombie’s head exploding. Most of the violence lead to some great laughs. They also didn’t stoop to using sudden loud noises to get scares opting instead for some good suspense and legitimately creepy sequences. Overall, I would say that if you like zombie movies and loathed with all the recent video game zombie movies, you’ll probably like this one. Just try not to think of it as Dawn of the Dead. Make up your own name like The Redeadening. You’ll be much happier with it.
Hmmm... okay. Even the people who really wanted to hate it seem to be liking it a lot. Let’s see if this continues with our next reviewer...
First off, there’s some mild spoilers ahead. Nothing too serious or anything most people haven't already read about.
So me and a group of film goers were lucky enough to attend one of the many pre-screeners for Dawn of the Dead going on across the country, and if our crowd was any idea of how crowds will react to this movie Universal has a hit on its hands. I'm all for the continuing of Zombie Cinema and when the best zombie movie in the past five years didn't have a single zombie in it to begin with, I was more than receptive to the idea of Dawn being remade. I just knew that I'd have to turn off the Romero part of my brain and enjoy this in the same way that I enjoyed Return of the Living Dead. This isn't the character study that Dawn was (no surprise), but damn if this isn't a really solid film.
While I didn't personally find the film frightening beyond all belief or anything, this movie is about as tense as it gets. After the ten minute opener, you're stuck in this constant feeling of dread as you basically watch the world fall apart in the span of three or so days. You're always expecting something to be around the corner, and Snyder really uses that against you because most of the time there really IS something around the corner. Speaking of things around the corner this movie has got some very impressive make up effects, very well design for the "hero" zombies that appear through out the film. On the note of lead zombies, the ordeal concerning Andre and his pregnant wife/girlfriend is handled extremely well and gave the audience I was with a nice shock.
The other great thing this film has going for it is the dark sense of humor its got, most notably the Celebrity Sniper scene and the Ambulance Gag after Anna wakes up the next day in my opinion. The music choices and score are both very nice as well. All in all Dawn of the Dead 2004 is an excellent zombie movie, and a darn good "regular" movie as well.
Lee Westmeyer and Dick Valpak
Man... lots of enthusiasm. Overall, people seem to be digging it.
What's up Harry? I don't know if you could use this (or hell even want it) but I got to see a sneak preview of Dawn of the Dead tonight and here's my review, do with it what you will.
Let me first start out by letting you know where I'm coming from. I am not a long time horror movie fan. I only recently got into seeing horror movies because I had ignored them for so many years. When I was a kid horror movies scared me so I guess I stayed with that idea for years and then of course I gave the old "It's just silly and predictable" excuse. But now days it takes quite a bit so scare me and I've realized that horror movies are mostly supposed to be about having fun (sounds dumb doen't it?).
Today I have several things I like to see in a horror movie (I guess you could say that these are the things that I think horror movies should have to be to be considered good).
They should be scary: But not "Whoa I just crapped myself scary" (my guess is that there are very few things out there like that) but scary in the way that you get that little chuckle reflex when you know something bad is about to happen.
They should also have violence, an aceptable level of gore, humor and sex and/or nudity (don't deny it, you too enjoy boobs on film). Of couse all the other things go along as with a regular movie; stoy, acting, production value, etc. I'm here to tell you that the new Dawn of the Dead has them all.
In preperation for this movie I watched (for the frist time) all of the Dead films and really enjoyed them. I even watched the NOTLD remake and now it and this new Dawn have good elements in both and if they were somehow fused together then would have the perfect movie. But alas, this is not possible. But I do think that the new Dawn is pretty good as I found out in a preview screening today.
So I'm sure you've all heard the new things that sepertate this Dawn from previous. Yes, the zombies run. And you know what? I loved the fact that they did. I mean even in the remake of Night Barbara says "They're so slow. We could just walk right past 'em and we wouldn't even have to run. We could just walk right past 'em." Damn stright you could. Now that they run it makes things much more tence. And yes there are more people in the mall in this remake. Guess what? I liked this as well. Having more people in the mall gives the movie more to go on. There are more character dynamics to deal with and things don't seem as stale so quick.
Which brings me to another point I like about the new Dawn: The running time. This Dawn clocks in at around 90 min. were as the 1978 Dawn runs a little over two hours (quite an epic for a zombie movie but there was a lot of things that could have been shaved to keep the story moving at a faster pace). To me around 90 min. is just what a horror movie should run.
I do have to say that the acting in this movie is leaps and bounds over the acting in ALL of the previous Dead movies. Sara Polly makes Barbra (even the one in the new Night) look like a feeble old lady.
The effects are (as it would dictate through time) are damn good. Zombie make-up looks just as good if not better than Savini's in Day of the Dead. The music is also far better in this Dawn. Now there are orchestral insted of synths (though they were "great" in the 70's and 80's) which today seen laughable. Also, listen the the musiack in the mall, the songs add a little wink to the audience.
The over all atmosphere in the movie is much more dark and "end-of-the-world-ish" (wow, I think I just make up a phrase) than the old one.
I don't want to talk too much about what does and doesn't happen in this movie but I do think this is the whole idea you should have when seeing this movie: It's not the 1978 Daown of the Dead, don't treat it like it is or should be. This movie doesn't (like so many who haven't seen the movie already assume) trash or belittle it's predecessor, it honors it. Is it the same movie? No. But it really does have the sprit of the 1978 Dawn. Of course thee are going to be those die hard fans who will never embrace it but I belive that thinking that that is very short-sighted. Like I've said before, I'm no horror buff but I know a good movie when I see it and this Dawn of the Dead is pretty good.
**** out of *****
P.S. When the movie is over just don't leap out of your seat and run to your car. Stay through the credits.
Okay, that settles it. Thanks, everybody. Guess I know what I’ll see this weekend, at least between repeat viewings of ETERNAL SUNSHINE.