Jul 03

Dawn of the Dead

Year: 2004
Country: USA

Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer, Ty Burrell


When the undead rise, civilization will fall


Ana returns home to her husband after a long day at work. When they wake up they are attacked by a young girl who lives in the neighborhood. She seems to have turned from a sweet young girl into a ravaging bloodthirsty beast. Ana’s husband is bitten and after some minutes, he also turns into a frenzied beast. Ana is able to escape and sees that the whole world is falling apart in front of her eyes.

She has a car crash and is found by police sergeant Kenneth. They, together with the Michael and the couple Andre and Luda they head over to the local shopping mall to seek refuge. Three security guards are already there and the group has to beg for their kindness to be allowed to stay at the mall. After their differences are settled, they all make a new life in the mall while more and more zombies gather right outside.

A big budget studio remake of the best zombie movie of all time? How did that become a good idea? And to make matters even worse, let’s add that they gave this nearly 30 million dollar movie to a totally unproven young director. Yeah, that sure sounds like a smart move… Instead of having too much respect for the original material like the Night of the Living remake had, this one only keeps the setting of the shopping mall from the original.

Even the zombies didn’t “survive” the change here and they have become fast running, maniac people instead. Most of them don’t look like rotting corpses, but rather regular humans with a few wounds or blood on them. Of course they are a bigger threat to the humans than the slow walking old school zombies, but they do not provide the same apocalyptic and eerie atmosphere that the rising corpses do.

The film runs for 110 minutes and spend most of its time inside the mall with the characters, who none are really interesting or likeable except Sarah Polley (Go, Splice) as Ana. Ving Rhames (The People Under The Stairs, Piranha 3D) is always fun to watch, but I’ve seen him much better in other movies. The rest of the cast failed to make a lasting impression and their characters where mostly annoying, especially Ty Burrell (The Incredible Hulk, Fair Game) as the obnoxious supporting character Steve.

And it is the young Zack Snyder (300, Sucker Punch) responsibility of making these characters work and have them entertain the viewer. He seemed to be more focused on the action sequences in the film, even displaying quite a fascination with guns since he made sure to either zoom in on them or have them go off in slow motion during the entire movie. It’s no wonder that his work after this has so far been in the action genre and that seems to be something he works much better in. It should also be said that the dumb dialogue that was written for this movie by screenwriter James Gunn (Slither, Super) did not help much either.

I also had a problem with how the movie looked. It was almost like they had turned the brightness to maximum and had a sorta greenish look that seemed to be in a lot of movies between 2000-2005. The music that is used does nothing to enhance the movie and whoever thought these choices where great should get a soft smack behind their head. I will say that the opening of the movie where Ana is looking at how our society is ending is well done and cool though.

The Dawn of the Dead remake does not live up to the original and fails to add anything new to the zombie genre except running zombies, something that was done better in 28 Days Later. If you skip this one because you hate every remake then you are not missing out. The original Dawn will be remembered for several decades to come while this one will be forgotten.




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