Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Movie Review: "Dawn of the Dead" (2004)

Director: Zack Snyder
Year: 2004
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 41 minutes

A nurse wakes up to find that the zombie apocalypse has begun. She flees to the local mall in search of shelter, along with other survivors who come from all walks of life.

"Dawn of the Dead" is directed by Zack Snyder in his feature film directorial debut. The screenplay is written by James Gunn, adapted from the 1978 film of the same name, which was written and directed by George A. Romero. The film begins focused on a nurse named Ana, played by Sarah Polley, who, after a long shift, heads home spends some time with her family and wakes up to the shock of a full-scale zombie outbreak. She flees for her life, eventually meeting up with many other survivors before fleeing to the mall to hole up in the hopes of being rescued. Joining her as the other survivors are Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer, Inna Korobkina, Ty Burrell, Michael Kelly, Kevin Zegers, and Michael Barry. 

In many ways, this remake is similar to the original 1978 version of "Dawn of the Dead." In other ways, it is drastically different. In this more modern take, the indictments of American consumerism aren't quite as apparent as they are in the original, but who needs subtextual political messages when you have fast-paced, vicious zombies roaming the Earth in droves? The undead here more like those seen in "28 Days Later" as opposed to the slow-moving, lumbering zombies of the classics created by Romero and mimicked in film and shows like "The Walking Dead." This change certainly adds a lot of intensity to the story because people can't just take their time to get to their destinations, and instead, have to haul ass to avoid being torn apart by these beings. Actively aggressive zombies like the ones seen here become extremely dangerous in one-on-one encounters, so imagine how dangerous and insane it must be when they are found in massive groups hungry by the hundreds or thousands.

The story here is extremely simple as Snyder doesn't spend a whole lot of time flushing out characters. Rather, he opts for standard archetypes without multiple layers, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Of course, people don't really watch zombie apocalypse films for the massive character development, They watch for bloody zombie carnage, which Snyder happily offers up in spades. He goes to some dark, unsettling places not typically addressed in other zombie incarnations that will make you scream like a baby, and offsets these instances with some levity in the form of comic relief.

Overall, what "Dawn of the Dead" lacks in solid narrative and deep characters, it makes up for with pure, unabashed entertainment, awesome and sometimes cheesy one-liners, and carnage up the wazoo. This is a solid debut for Snyder.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 75%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?


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