Dawn of The Dead (2004)

December 1, 2009
I have to admit, the zombie genre is getting really tiring these days. If I dare say so, the 2000's are to the zombie genre as the 80's were to ninja flicks (ala Karate Kid, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or Three Ninjas). While not as annoying as the vampire phenomenon circulating popular culture these days, it's still get quite tiring to hear every other teenage/college-age guy talking about zombie flicks or books. I like zombies as much as the next guy, but something's got to give.

Regardless, for those unaware, this Dawn of The Dead is actually a remake of the film of the same name by George A. Romero - (in)famous for his multiple zombie pictures such as his Dawn of the Dead and Night of The Living Dead. While this remake, directed by Zack Snyder, shares the same concept of a group of survivors hiding out in a mall during the zombie apocalypse, the similarities end there. This version of the zombie horror stars a new cast of characters, a new time setting, and plenty of other differences, though it does retain some of the memorable lines from the original i.e. "When there's no more room in hell, the dead shall walk the earth", etc. and so forth.

The plot, as I stated, revolves around a group of survivors who lock themselves in a mall while, in the hellish outside, the end of the world is going on with the zombie infection slowly destroying all of humanity. There's a variety of people with a variety of backgrounds here, ranging from doctors to cops to lawyers to couples. While one might imagine this variety of backgrounds would make for an interesting tale, the concept falls flat with how shallow and two-dimensional the characters and their backgrounds are. For instance, the film pretty much blatantly states who each person is : "Oh, this is the cop looking for his brother', "yeah, that's the doctor who lost her family", "that's the redneck who just happened to drive by", and we never get much more from that.

If that wasn't bad enough, the "supporting characters" are even worse. While we may be given their names, their role in everything is extremely limited, as they seem only to be in the film to progress plot-points or show how gruesomely the zombies can kill people - human fodder, if you will. Not to mention some of these characters are incredibly stupid, such as the red-headed daughter of the dad who dies earlier in the film. At one point in the story, she actually drives a car out of the safety (or as safe as it can be) mall to retrieve something 'special to her'. What could it be?

Is it...
A) A family member?
B) Some precious heirloom?
C) A pet dog, who wasn't hers to begin with, that the zombies don't touch because they don't eat animals to begin with?

If you answered 'C', then perhaps you can understand my frustration with these characters. The girl literally risks the safety of the only place where zombies haven't infested to fetch a pet dog, which could easily have been called to a back entrance and led back inside. What was she thinking?! Ugh...

Also, just for the sake of it, this remake also features some forced-in romances between the as deep as a puddle characters. Oh? What's that? The doctor's fallen in love with the guy who could never keep a wife? After having seen her husband brutally killed and zombiefied just a few weeks ago? ...How...sweet? Bleh. Not to mention a couple of the characters are made into jerks just so there can be some tension in the group, despite how nauseatingly awful they all are. The prime example of this would be the security mall cop, who always acts like a jerk to everyone ALL THE TIME so that the gorup can have someone to 'not trust'. Everything in this movie feels so forced...

However, I do have to the hand it to the film for having a cool visual style. The gritty and darkness of the mall makes the film feel, in a way, like a Frank Miller graphic novel. This style was at is finest, to me at least, when the group has to go through the mall's garage. Dark, damp, and claustrophobic, I enjoyed the action sequences it presented.

Speaking of the action, I thought that was pretty alright as well, despite the mindlessness of the movie. The zombies - well, technically 'the infected' since zombies don't run - were pretty well-represented, though I didn't like the fact that a zombie close-up never lasted for more than a mere two seconds. It made the undead aspect feel empty, almost as if the infected were actually just a really, really big angry mob.

Granted, the film has a nice visual style and some good mindless zombie action, the characters and their development are butchered in the making of the action. In a classic style over substance, Dawn of The Dead features an idiotic cast in a film where nothing quite new, or interesting for that matter, is brought to the table.

3.5/10 - Bad

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shagnar said...
Jan. 6, 2010 at 7:06 am
i couldn't agree with you more! i'm a huge fan of anything zombie, but the movies are just becoming stupid. You don't really get to know any of the characters other than their names. Not to mention that zombies aren't supposed to be able to run like an olympic athlete. The original idea of how a zombie walks is actually more of a shuffle. That's actually what made the whole thing kind of scary! They may not move fast, but there is a whole mindless army of them that'... (more »)
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