Director: George Romero
Starring: Simon Baker, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento, Robert Joy
The dead shall inherit the earth
The zombie apocalypse has happened and survivors have set up small communities in cities, trying to get their daily lives and society running again. Typical of humans, the society is split between the rich and the poor but now also with the undead as a third part.
The rich have created a big armored vehicle that is called Dead Reckoning that can be used to travel outside of the city safe zone to gather supplies and also to protect the city. The second in command of the crew that runs Dead Reckoning steals the vehicle after being denied into the rich part of society and now it is up to the leader of the crew, Riley Denbo to get the vehicle back. At the same time a huge horde of zombies is emerging close to the city.
Finally George Romero is back with another zombie movie! Made twenty years after Day of the Dead, Land actually had a decent budget movie with 17,5 million dollars to work with. It got positive reviews when it came out and did quite well financially.
The plot is smart, has some dark humour and as usual some social commentary from Uncle Romero. The film has a good visual look, it’s sort of a mix between an 80’s John Carpenter action film and a comic book. Romero handles his job well here, although this one doesn’t feel like it has the same personal touch that a lot of his other movies has, perhaps due to working with a big studio this time?
The music by Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek is good, but doesn’t enhance the movie in the same way as the music did in the three previous zombie movies by Romero. I doubt this soundtrack will be as wanted as the ones for the first three movies. The gore effects are done both with CGI and the old school way. The CGI stands out and not in a good way, they stand out as being obvious CGI work. It’s also not as disgusting and filled with intestines as Dawn or Dead, which will disappoint some gorehounds, even though I believe that what we do get is enough for what Romero is going for with this movie.
The zombies have continued to evolve, mostly shown by the leading zombie here nicknamed Big Daddy. He is able to feel for his fellow zombies and also tries to communicate with them. He is the one who directs the horde towards the big city. He is kind of the Bub of the movie and makes the zombies turn from originally being villains in Night to becoming victims here. It’s an interesting transition for the undead and even though I consider myself to be a lover of the slow walking, dumb and rotting corpses, I enjoyed Big Daddy and his gang of zombies here. I do wonder though why would only Big Daddy be this evolved and not the other zombies?
The biggest flaw of the film is the characters. I did not care that much for anyone here and the acting was unusual bland for a Romero movie. I believe that this is also due to the fact that this film is a lot shorter than both Dawn or Day and doesn’t give that much time for character backstories that those two movies did. I wish that the film had another 30 minutes or so to play on, fleshing the story and characters more out than it was able to do here.
Land of the Dead does not hold up against Romero’s previous zombie movies, but it does hold up very well against the other zombie movies of the 2000’s. It’s always interesting to see what Romero is able to say with his zombie movies, so it’s definitely worth watching. Just don’t expect another masterpiece.