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Dawn of the Dead

A movie directed by Zack Snyder

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Funny, goofy, but appealing and entertaining, not to mention cool, remake.

  • Oct 9, 2011
*** out of ****

As much as I love the original source material, Zack Snyder's 2004 remake of "Dawn of the Dead", a George Romero zombie horror classic, is actually a pretty respectable movie. Unlike most horror remakes these days, it follows its own path; and comes out its own movie, which was nice. This is the only kind of remake of Romero's film that I could have ever enjoyed. It's not as good as the 1978 film that inspired its existence, but in its own little way, it gives us exactly what we expect out of it, and that's enough reason to see it. Technically, it's a work of pure craftsmanship; I'd expect no less from Snyder, who works best when making use of stories not originally told by him. He can take images and put them onto the screen and have fun with it. He's a visual artist, but not necessarily a storyteller. Here, his screenwriter is James Gunn; a man who went on to direct "Slither" and has a peculiarly twisted sense of humor. His script fits Snyder's direction like a glove. I can't say it's perfect and I can't say it's very intelligent, but it provides a silly, gory, good time. And that's good enough for me.

If you don't recall, Romero's original was a conceptual sequel to his just-as-classic, and all-around revolutionary low-budget horror flick "Night of the Living Dead". It was a film in which the dead could rise and walk the earth once again; they had their flesh, their blood, and most importantly, their teeth. What they lacked was their brains - or at least, their brains to use. They were slow but not ponderous. They had one goal and one goal only; to feast upon warm, much more...ALIVE flesh. Romero aimed for both political and social satire; and his film was a winner. This version of the film has its share of commentary too, yet it doesn't seem to be going quite as deep. I was fine with that, though; considering that it was what it was, and what it was...was a pretty satisfying movie. It's a wild ride, nothing more, nothing less. It's what you come for; and it simply delivers.

So since you know that the dead are coming back to life and attacking the living, often in large crowds, I suppose it's time to move on to the fact that there are still some strong-willed survivors. The film doesn't take much time to introduce these people to us, but the first person that we truly meet is Ana (Sarah Poley), a nurse residing in suburbia. She wakes up one morning to a nasty surprise; the world has gone to hell, and the zombie outbreak has been set loose on America. After crashing her car - an event which is followed-up by a truly kick-ass opening titles sequence - she comes in contact with a Cop who goes by the name of Kenneth (Ving Rhames). Then, the two come across three other survivors to accompany them on their journey; which eventually leads them to a nearly-abandoned mall. I say "nearly-abandoned" because the undead still occupy much space in the parking lots and even certain parts of the inside stores, although not nearly as much as they did in the original film.

Much of the film takes place in this very mall, which is very close to the one featured in the Romero film. The mall itself is pretty much a welcome character in itself; one that is much more likable than most of the ones actually presented in human form. "Dawn of the Dead" doesn't seem to care much for a good half of its characters, as some of them are good and well-presented, while a few are hilariously dull and unlikable. I enjoyed Rhames' cop character; and a particularly douchey character, portrayed by Ty Burrell, was entertaining to watch. Because...you know; a douche is fun to watch as long as we can laugh both with him and at him (on-screen, not in reality. Nobody likes an authentic douche).

The mall floors run red with blood in this remake, which is full of gory goodies. I am a supporter of a common belief that all zombie films should have a good amount of gore whether they aim for satire or true horror. Romero's "Dawn of the Dead" was gruesome, and at the time, quite repulsive to most. But it was art. Zack Snyder's "Dawn of the Dead" is even more splatter-friendly, with scenes involving zombie babies, mass chainsaw deaths, and plenty of flesh-ripping. The biggest difference here is that Snyder's film, unlike Romero's, is not art. It is entertainment. Whether you agree with me or not, there is a fine difference between the two. But even though it isn't art, it still makes time for fun and even humor; the kind you expect from the talents involved. There's even some fun little cameos from a few stars who were in the original film, as well as the legendary make-up artist Tom Savini, who appears as a Sherriff here, given only a news-broadcast's time. If this sounds fun, then it probably is. Stop avoiding "Dawn of the Dead". It's better than what you'd expect. I love zombies, even when the movies they are in feel more like hyper-active video games than works of cinema. This film does not disappoint. I had such a good time watching it that I may even revisit it again. It can't beat the original though; I don't think anything can. But that's just how things are, and in the world we live in, good remakes are a solid find. "Dawn of the Dead" is quite a steal.

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October 16, 2011
Nice review! Personally I'm tired of zombie movies - and this one had plenty of blood splurts with zombie's heads getting blown off, which kind of bored me, but I agree with you that for a zombie movie remake, it was pretty good. Thanks for sharing!
More Dawn of the Dead reviews
review by . April 01, 2008
Dawn of the dead
I love zombie movies, and this is the best one among them.  The characters are trapped in a mall where there are tens of thousands of zombies outside, and they have a shoot a zombie celebrity look-alike game, what's not to love about this movie!
review by . November 07, 2010
More characters, less depth
   In some ways, this film is sacrileage for me. Dawn of the Dead, the original, is one of my favourite films ever, a masterclass in scares, black humour, gore and all round entertainment. Luckily, apart from the shopping mall setting, this doesn't try to be the original. It's less about chills and black humour, and more about action and a fast pace. It's entertaining, but lightweight.      One of thing that I will credit this film with is that it has a …
review by . August 21, 2010
George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead is a classic horror movie that really didn't need to be retold...but that's exactly what director Zack Snyder has done so I guess I should review it after having seen it twice. I admit there have been far worse remakes, but I can't help but sense how unnecessary this was especially since these two films are worlds apart in many ways. They don't really remake Dawn of the Dead so much as they re-use some elements from the original script and slap the title "Dawn …
review by . May 01, 2009
Dawn of the Dead is pretty good. I was very surprised when I saw this movie. I have to say that I was very impressed. The script by James Gunn and the direction was on par with the original. Ving Rhames was the man. He played his role quite well and was creditable as the tough cop. The set pieces were up to snuff and the gore effects were excellent.    A strange mutation has quickly spread across the land. It hit so fast and so hard that nobody was prepared for what was to come. …
review by . February 28, 2009
In WWII, a German tank commander noted, in regards to the American Sherman tank, "You could knock out 10 of them, but there would always be an eleventh one there." That's akin to the predicament faced by the human survivors in Zack Snyder's remake of George Romero's 1979 Dawn of the Dead; you can have all the guns, ammo, and provisions you need, and shoot one zombie, two zombies, a dozen zombies, but what about the hundredth? The thousandth? The five thousandth? Snyder's audacious treatment of this …
review by . June 29, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
I had seen this movie a couple of times and it's just great. The plot is pretty straightforward, even though it relies mostly on cliché themes to move the story along. So as a rule, most films such as this tend to be predictable and quite tepid. Luckily, `Dawn of the Dead' has strong personalities to fall back on, making it thankfully every bit a character-driven drama as it is a horror-action piece.    Sarah Polley convincingly plays a waif turned survivor with just the right …
review by . March 18, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Some nice thrills and dark humor.     Cons: Drags in the middle nothing great in the acting area.     The Bottom Line: A good update on the original.     For many people the routine of everyday life is something that is often taken for granted. Today, the demands on a persons time are at al all time high, as there is often less time to relax and enjoy the many finer things in life.      In the film Dawn of the …
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Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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First-time director Zack Snyder remakes zombie master George A. Romero's classic 1978 gore-fest DAWN OF THE DEAD, wisely replicating only the basic elements of Romero's movie, instead sticking to his own vision of a world overrun by undead flesh-eating creatures. The action begins with nurse Ana (Sarah Polley) waking up to discover her boyfriend has become a tasty midnight snack for a formerly cute neighboring kid. To her horror, she realizes that the whole town is in a similar state of ghoulishness, until she runs into still-alive cop Kenneth (Ving Rhames); the levelheaded Michael (Jack Weber); and Andre (Mekhi Phifer), a rebel with a pregnant wife in tow. As in Romero's original, the group heads for the local mall where they barricade themselves inside. More survivors surface, while in the outside world the zombies go about their day by slowly taking over the planet. Undeterred by the odds against them, the survivors plot, scheme, and enjoy their mall paradise. As they plan their escape, some incredibl...
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