Dawn of the Dead


Dir: Zack Snyder
Star: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer

I was never exactly a fan of the original - like its predecessor, Night, it seemed over-rated, Romero's clumsy attempts at social commentary sitting uneasily with Savini's impressive effects. The remake eases up on the satire, while retaining the central concept: a group of survivors hole up in a mall, hoping for rescue, while an ever-increasing number of zombies mass outside. Here, however, hope is eventually abandoned, and the humans decide their only hope is to stage a break-out and head for a boat at the nearby marina.

The effects aren't bad; I hope there's an unrated DVD, since I suspect trimming was required for an R-rating. However, the remarkable marksmanship is never explained: immaculate head-shots account for 99% of the zombies, and that's even though they resemble sprint stars more than Romero's shambling undead. Still, the remake includes sufficient new elements to justify its existence: the best of these are the pregnant but bitten mother, and the gun-store owner, holed up on his roof, who takes out zombies by request.

Yet with addition comes subtraction: the new characters are mostly poorly developed, and they'd probably have been better off retaining the smaller number in the original, especially as this version is 45 minutes shorter than Romero's director's cut. Particularly kill-worthy is the irritating teenage girl, whose father is played, in a touching cameo, by Matt Max Headroom Frewer. When the credits rolled, I was going to deduct points for an cop-out ending, but I must say, stay in your seat. You'll be well rewarded...

B-
Mar 2004


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