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Dawn of the Dead (2004 Dir. cut)

by on Mar.02, 2010, under Daily Review

If was ever to make a zombie film, this would probably be pretty close by design. Director, Zack Snyder made a totally controversial decision, with his debut movie, a remake of Romero’s ‘78 classic (and definitive Z flick). Ultimately, this had to be good, there is no question there as failure would be suicide. So, how did he do?

This is a bloody good film, but not without its problems. (for me at least). It’s close enough to the original to keep the legacy title, yet this re-imagining is whole new buddle of flesh eating fiends. From the off, it’s a non-stop, fast moving gore fest of suspense, carnage and survival. No room for sentiment, each character is out for numero uno, bickering and barking whist the Z multiply and crave the living. Holding up in the local Mall, everything left for the remaining human race is on tap, whilst the hordes surround the outer walls. This is not enough for the survivors as they battle for authority and dream of a better place. A tropical Island anyone? One of the Mallrats is a rich guy. If only they could get to that yacht.

So this all sounds great. Right? Well, not quite. It’s a great film to watch and enjoy, but this could have been better. Characters are obvious stereotypes with nothing to offer except food for the brain eaters. With the exception of Ana (Sarah Polley), who is by far the best thing about this film, a strong character, believable and courageous, the cast is poorly treated, with obvious roles to play. Characters with no charm, reason or spark. It’s a difficult task to make Mekhi Phifer look dull, but here we have a typical boy from the hood, glock cockin’ pigeon holed character. Michael, played by Jake Weber is such a useless waste of space. Even Polley’s character, for all the good that she offers, doesn’t spare a minute for her husband and child who both turned in the opening moments of the film; a sequence which is by far one of the greatest scenes in zombie movie history, Ana first escaping her family by falling backwards into a bath tub, before climbing out of a window, then hitting the streets in her car, craziness all around, with an amazing over head view of the suburb, cars crashing, houses burning, blood and massacre all over.

With an opening scene like this, how could it go wrong? It doesn’t really. Just poor characterisation and if you forgive this, it’s as good as it gets. A real bulldozer of a flick with a storming final scene, flowing over into the credits. Snyder did what very few people thought possible. Although, this film does not carry all the social issues, which is the original’s strong point, it offers a fresh feel and a huge well needed boost to the zombie genre.

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