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Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Dawn of the Dead 2004


I actually have a review that I would like to post for 'Dead' lovers....
 

I present a comprehensive review of "Dawn of the Dead"2004. Your official warning: THERE ARE SPOILERS!!!!!!!!! Please DO NOT read if you have not seen the new 2004 version and you do have any plans to see it in the future.

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First things first, this is a re-make of a 1978 movie by the same title. The George Romero original is a sequel to his 1968 zombie classic "Night of the Living Dead". The reason I point this out is to clearly note the differences and similarities to Romero's vision and to this fascinating version
I was recently asked a very difficult question: Which do you like better

As with many movie re-makes, it has its strengths and weaknesses. However, before I answer that question, I want to present this review.
 
Zack Snyder’s (Director) version is packed with good action, great special effects and a great adaptation of Romero's script. The first time I walked out of the theatre after watching the movie I was very excited and praising the movie to high heaven. It met all of my expectations and exceeded a few of them as well. After a second viewing, I feel confident in being able to give a thorough review and comparison.
 
Now, I like that the movie starts with a lot of action and some audience jumping moments before the opening credits even roll. Ving Rhames does an excellent job as a lead character. Some of the gore scenes were top notch and were the result of fantastic special effects team (lead by David LeRoy Anderson of “Men in Black” & “Nutty Professor” fame), my most favorite being an exploding head due to a shotgun blast. The writer (James Gunn) took liberties with the original script but kept a lot of key elements for the die-hard Romero fans.
 
A list of things that are key elements to me as a die-hard fan:

  • The mysterious origin of the dead- I am extremely proud that Gunn did not try to improve the script by coming up with a cause. It is so much more powerful to have an unknown cause.
  • The mall-One of the most important elements is being able to secure the mall and isolate yourself from the zombie hoard. In comparison; the original characters had to TAKE the mall first, this 2004 group had it locked up before their arrival. Also there is a lot less time spent “enjoying” the mall in this new version.
  • Good characters get bit and/or die-There is nothing like having a good character ripped away from you, it makes for good reaction and emotion.
  • Comedy-I think the element of comedy is paramount to making a good movie. In zombie films a perfect way to contrast the dark subject. The original had stumbling zombies that came across as goofballs and even one scene with pies in the face, yes I said pies! This new version has more dialogue comedy with such great one-liners as “She died without a name? … Damn.” & “Okay, let’s draw straws and the loser runs across the parking lot with a ham sandwich”
  • The pregnancy-One character is pregnant and makes you wonder what will become of her and her baby. In this version we find out, as the mother is infected and will become a zombie and it makes for some very interesting dramatic scenes. You suspect that the disease may affect the baby but you are just not sure until the final moment before it is destroyed. In the original, the mother is not bitten but the fate of her impending baby’s birth is left to your imagination. At least in the final scripted version. Which brings me to my final point.
  • Two endings-The original script had two endings. There was the on-screen version where two of the main characters get away and fly off to an unknown future. Then there was the alternate script that has one of the last survivors taking his own life and the final character killing herself. In this new version, the end has the surviving characters sailing off into the sunset as the end credits begin to roll. However, after a few frames of credits there is a jumpy quickly cut shots (a la home cam-corder) of the survivors continuing their journey on the open sea. Through these clips we see the characters making to an island where a zombie hoard awaits them and BAM! you have a not so nice ending revealed amidst the final credits. Wicked cool way to have two endings on the same reel!!

A word on the zombies. Romero fans are used to the slow shuffling of the classic zombies. Slow methodic zombies are a hell of lot more scary to me than ones that run. Because of their speed, they are a little less believable. Also Romero’s zombies seem to have more depth. There are monsters that will eat you, but you can see how they were once human beings in the way they move and act. Snyder’s zombies seem to be specifically only monsters that will eat you and must be destroyed. On that note, I am also ecstatic that Gunn kept the well-known method for stopping a zombie in this version. The classic shot in the head.
 
How great it was for Romero fans to have two great cameo appearances in this version. Ken Foree, who played a major character role in the original version, makes a brief cameo as a reverend touting his classic statement “When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth”. I’ll bet he never thought he would be saying those same words on screen 26 years later. It was also thrilling to see a quick cameo by Tom Savini. Savini is the master special effects artist who made the Romero film come to un-life with gory and nightmarish zombies and effects.
 
For moviegoers who have never seen the original, this is a great movie on many accounts. The acting is good, the special effects horrifically wonderful and the action fast paced & exciting. The new generation of horror fans will love the job that Snyder and Gunn did, even if they miss the classic elements and references.
 
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Now I can answer that question. Which one do I like best? The original. This new version is awesome and I love what it does for the horror genre and as a tribute to Romero’s vision. I will of course be on pins and needles awaiting the DVD release, however, as “Dawn of the Dead” it will have to take a back seat to the original.

 


  • Today's Cure song is "Boys Don't Cry" from the Boys Don't Cry CD -(1979)  "This is from thier first CD released in the U.S. A jumpy little diddy about regret and lost love. "I try and Laugh about it, hiding the tears in my eyes 'cause boys don't cry "

CJ



4 Comments:

Blogger LaVarious said...

Great Article!! Where are you from again?

Thursday, July 22, 2004 9:59:00 AM  
Blogger Audra said...

"Boys Don't Cry" is my all-time favorite cure song!!! Rock on!

Thursday, July 22, 2004 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger vanessa said...

"Shoot Burt Renold's" that's all i have to say. I own and love them both. You can apreciate each for many reasons.

Friday, October 28, 2005 8:52:00 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

I liked this better than the original. I like the music included and loved Ving Rhames' character. It sucked though they killed off the crazy gun dude. I liked him.

Saturday, July 15, 2006 11:29:00 AM  

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