"Rating - "
SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
'When there are no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth'.
The dead are rising from their graves, and no one knows why (Well actually if you watched the classic movie 'Night Of The Living Dead', you'll know why coz the movie got three sequel with 'Night Of The Living Dead' being the first, 'Dawn Of The Dead' the second and 'Day Of The Dead' the third.). A group of survivors whole up in a mall and everything seems safe for a while... until they come to the realization that they'd rather risk escape than just sit there and wait to die.
Sometimes I wonder if this will ever end... By 'this' I mean of course the slew of never ending remakes that seems to be overtaking our local multiplexes (mind you, this is a remake of the classic movie 'Dawn Of The Dead'). Of course, the fact that I went to see 'Dawn of the Dead' on opening weekend in Mid Valley Megamall should tell me something... that as long as I'm willing to shell out my hard earned money for these flicks, they're going to keep making them. Despite the general greediness behind the trend, this flick turned out pretty good.
I must devote some space in this review to the glorious opening of this film. This is the second movie in as many weeks that I have seen that absolutely grabs the audience by the balls in the first 5 minutes (the first being Ju On 2). I just thought the whole thing was handled wonderfully, from the introduction of Sara Polley's character, to the seemless way that they show how her and her husband missed the Emergency Broadcast warning. Then of course they wake up in the morning... and although I won't give it away, I will say that what happens at this point proved to me that this film wasn't going to pull any punches. Even little things, like the way Polley flies through her bathroom door and slams up agains the wall, all served to up the intensity level for me. And of course, there's that decidedly Savini-esque zombie bite moment... One can never get enough of those. Also, I love any film that manages to work one of those creepily perfect suburban settings in there... brrr... give me the creeps!
Once Polley escapes (in the process painting us a very bleak picture of the destruction going down, I more blood and destructions!) she meets up with a few more members of the cast (Rames, Weber, Pheipher, and the Russian chick) and they head for the mall. Ironically, just as in the original Dawn of the Dead, this part lost me a bit. This film's main problem for me was an over abundance of characters. Just when I thought I was getting a handle on what was happening... there's 3 asshole security guards thrown into the mix. Got them figured out? Good, because then about 7 more people arrive, and at this point I just gave up. The result of my giving up made a lot of what goes down in the middle third of the film kind of flat for me. I didn't give a shit about Pheipher and his kid (although that was an ugly little SOB), and I didn't really care when they had to put Matt Fruer's character down for the count either (although, nice to see Max Headroom on the big screen... cool dude). Soulless characters aside though, I did get a mega kick out of the playful stuff going down between Rhames and the guy across the way (We need a new game). Also, look out for a sequence taken straight out of the original, which shows the mall's new inhabitants getting cozy and (again, playfully) exploring their surroundings. I did find plenty here that was clever.
The real draw of the film though has got to be the Zombie action. I mean if you think about it, this film is what House of the Dead should have been. The film isn't about slow moving zombies creating a menacing presence so much as frigging olympic sprinter zombies biting the shit out of people. Besides the beginning, there are multiple bloody gunshot wounds almost every 5 minutes. Other notable sequences for me were the chainsaw 'incident', and for that matter probably anything that happens in the last third. Unlike the original, these survivors choose the ground route for escape, and let's just say that it makes things a bit more interesting. This portion of the film once again brought me back into the awesome action, and didn't really let up until the final frames (well actually, it kind of keeps going).
I'm going to give this flick a reluctant '4'. I say reluctant because if you stand back and look at the film as a whole it's definitely not 100% solid. There's way too many characters, the pacing is uneven, and let's face it, it's not very original at all.It's juat a remake with a bit new stuffs throwed in. On the other hand, the action sequences are masterfully directed, there's enough explosions and head explosions to keep the action-fiends passified, and there's even a whole bunch of clever moments as well. I'm still not down with using the name of a classic film to sell your new glossy one, but you can add this to the growing list of remakes that actually (mostly) work.
By the way stick around for the end credits... you'll see why.
Did You Know?
Ving Rhames was in Jacob's Ladder (1990) with Tim Robbins
Tim Robbins was in Mystic River (2003) with Kevin Bacon
Raising the bar for ridiculousness everywhere, Universal officially described this film in the weeks before the release as a "zombie driven action-thriller"... is everyone really that afraid of saying HORROR film?
George Romero, director of the original Dawn of the Dead, gets a credit here for "Original Screenplay". (yeah, should give the old man some credits). The screenwriter credit goes to James Gunn, writer of Troma classics like Tromeo and Juliet (hehehe..this is adult stuff. Kids…stay away from it.)
Tom Savini and Ken Foree (from the original film) both have cameos here. Tom plays the cop on TV who gives the vital info of how to kill the zombies, and Ken appears briefly as a televangelist restating his famous line from the original (also the tagline for this film)
Ving Rhames has had many roles, all usually resembling some form of "angry black man"... He's featured in one of my favorite action flicks "Con Air". To get more of Sara Polley, I would recommend checking out the raver flick "Go"... which luckily for you, also features Katie Holmes . Rue Morgue magazine founder Rod Gudino, as well as 2 other staff members have cameos in the film as zombies (couldn't recognize them with all those meat dangling around).
When the survivors initially look at the mall, one of the large department stores signs reads, "GAYLEN ROSS". Gaylen Ross played Fran, in the original film. (talk about promoting). The same trucking company trucks were used outside the mall as in the first Dawn Of The Dead. The company is B.P. Trucking.
There were certain stores in the mall who did not want to be featured in the film, a similar problem happened on the original production .
So far, I couldn't find any. Well, what do you expect from an old man like me?
Director Zack Snyder has mentioned that the film had to be trimmed slightly in order to avoid an 'X' rating... and that the DVD release should be unrated.