Dawn of the Dead
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Zack Snyder
scr James Gunn
with Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer, Ty Burrell, Michael Kelly, Kevin Zegers, Michael Barry, Inna Korobkina, Lindy Booth, Matt Frewer, Jayne Eastwood
release US 19.Mar.04; UK 26.Mar.04
04/US 1h41

Mallrats: Weber, Polley, Phifer and Korobkina lead the charge.

polley rhames phifer
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Not so much a remake of George A Romero's 1978 classic as a recycling of the premise, this action-packed zombie flick certainly keeps our adrenalin pumping. After a brief scene of urban normality in Milwaukee, it rockets into chaos and carries us shrieking and laughing along. The filmmakers don't waste time with explanations; the world is simply turned upside down one morning when a nurse named Ana (Polley) wakes up to find herself on the run from crowds of hungry, vicious and very tenacious undead. She takes refuge with a group of survivors in a shopping mall-- tough cop (Rhames), reluctant leader (Weber), protective father-to-be (Phifer) with hugely pregnant wife (Korobkina), womaniser (Kelly), trio of over-zealous security guards (Kelly, Zegers and Barry). A few others join them as they try to find a way out ... and news about the outside world. And these aren't standard staggering, dazed zombies--they run and leap and bite at lightning speed.

There's a thrilling, off-handed style to this film that really grabs the imagination. Inventive camerawork and effects and clever editing add to witty touches at every turn, from the hilarious choice of background muzak to cynical, sardonic dialog that's never knowing or silly, but rather the things real people say in incredibly tense situations. Led by the superb Polley, the cast is excellent, each person facing the horrific reality in their own way and showing humanity in all its glory, for better or worse. The script is full of clever touches and an underlying sense of morbid humour, but it also shies away from making significant comments on the religious or social themes it tries to raise. The direction and editing only falter in their over-reliance on false starts and red herrings, as well as some severe jump cuts that skip key bits of logic and leave us momentarily furious at such lazy filmmaking. But we don't have much time to be annoyed before the next bit of mayhem takes our breath away again.

cert 18 themes, strong violence and gore, language, brief sex 18.Mar.04

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Dawn of the Dead Doug, England: 3/5 "I personally was unable to build up any empathy with the characters apart from the lone guy on the building accross the car park. Not a patch on the original as the whole idea of a breakdown in society was lost to the gore and special effects. The grainy cam corder ending was a nice touch though. Could have been better if the zombies where closer to the original style and the characters where less grating and last but not least there was more analysis in looking at society and the breakdown of it. But if your after a good gore fick it's not too bad." (29.Mar.04)

Joe, California: 2/5 "Zombies do not run, they lunge. Zombies are not agile and do not have extraordinary human strength, they do not swing like monkeys or punch thru windshields. Zombies are uncoordinated, weak and barely have the strength to drag their feet when walking upright. A single zombie is not a threat, their strength is in numbers. Zombies will eat the flesh of any WARM blooded animal, including your dog, Sparky. If you die (naturally or unnaturally) with your brain intact, you will become a zombie; a gaping gunshot wound in the gut will not save you. Being the only African/Jamaican/Haitian in your party gives you an 89% likelihood of survival; unfortunately, this percentage is also the likelihood that you will be among the first to die in any OTHER horror or supernatural crisis or situation. The Dawn Of The Dead remake sorta reminds me of The Godfather III ... it just doesnt count." (23.Aug.04)

Mayuko, Shebbear, England: "i'm Japanese but i study in england (boarding). i've watched Dawn of the dead and it was great! i was thinking about it every day! that film made me jump and sometime cry. Poor Luda, and Poor Nichole (Lindy). i'm Lindy's fan. i really like her. she's so pretty!" (6.Nov.04)

2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall