Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Warmed Up Remake
America always sorts it's shit out - CJ
I have to admit that I am not the greatest modern horror aficionado; I've watched a fair few but find most to be disappointing because the majority of modern horror movies swap true horror for obvious shock tactics. But the Zack Snyder remake of "Dawn of the Dead" is different because I really enjoyed it. Not because it's a great horror as I don't think it is but it merges horror with action and smattering of comedy to make an entertaining movie which has mass appeal.
For unknown reasons the dead have awoken and are walking the earth, attacking all they come across. As chaos starts to reign, a small group of survivors including a nurse called Ana (Sarah Polley) and a cop called Kenneth (Ving Rhames) hide out inside a huge shopping mall and wait for help. But when help doesn't arrive and with supplies running short an escape plan needs to be found.
Right, I am not a fan of remakes for the obvious reason that they always tend to target those movies which are already good and then make a complete pig's ear of it, spoiling everything which made the original so good. But "Dawn of the Dead", which really deserves to be called a re-imagining rather than remake, is different as it adapts the popular George A. Romero cult classic taking the essence of the storyline and updating it to appeal to a younger audience who find the lumbering Zombies of Romero's movies to be a joke. It actually manages to achieve what many fail to do and that is to make a really entertaining movie, which is all the more surprising because honestly the actual storyline to "Dawn of the Dead" is not really that complex.
The real reason why I feel "Dawn of the Dead" works is that it balances various elements from horror, comedy as well as action which is in fact what I feel the main element is. "Dawn of the Dead" certainly ups the stakes when it comes to action with various explosions, chases and numerous shootings, some of which are quite funny such as when Andy the lone stranger on the roof top next to the mall starts picking off the zombies one by one such as Jay Leno and Burt Reynolds. But the whole time there is a humorous side to things making light of things such as shooting zombies. These two elements balance beautifully together making "Dawn of the Dead" feel more than just another horror.
On the horror front I have to say that I must becoming to use to the visual shocks as I didn't really find watching "Dawn of the Dead" a frightening experience. Yes the fact that zombies can move quicker rather than lumber about makes it more tense but there are so many predictable techniques used that I found myself far too often second guessing what was coming next. Plus "Dawn of the Dead" falls foul of one of my major criticisms which is everything is far too visual and doesn't allow you to scare yourself shitless by the power of your own mind. Yes bullets blowing off skulls can be visually impressive, as well as the make up of the undead but it's too in your face for me.
Although I have mentioned that the storyline to "Dawn of the Dead" is not that complex and you certainly don't need a degree to follow it, it is well though out. As pretty much expected there are plenty of unanswered questions as to why all of this undead chaos is happening and more importantly why the small group of survivors make some really daft decisions but that doesn't really matter. You never really sit down to watch a horror movie which baffles you with complex twists and "Dawn of the Dead" certainly doesn't but for all those who switch off as soon as the credits start to role it's worth waiting till the end to pick up on a twist.
Acting wise well there are no real stand out performances from the selection of well known names. Sarah Polley is admirable as the female lead, Ving Rhames is ok as the strong silent Kenneth and Jake Weber is interesting as Michael but none of these really stand out. I suppose you don't expect brilliant performances in a horror movie and those in "Dawn of the Dead" are far from being terrible, just unmemorable. In fact you finish the movie remembering the faces of the stars and probably worked out where you had seen them before but not really how good they were in this movie.
What this all boils down to is that as a remake or re-imagining I would say that Zack Snyder has done an admirable job with "Dawn of the Dead" adapting a classic to newer audiences who like big visuals rather than anything in the least bit clever or thought provoking. As an out right horror I find "Dawn of the Dead" a little lacking but is still entertaining because of the emphasis on the action and subtle humour make up for the lack of intelligent frights.
Tags: Zombie Movies
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