Land of the Dead
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir-scr George A Romero
with Simon Baker, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento, Robert Joy, Eugene Clark, Joanne Boland, Tony Nappo, Jennifer Baxter, Boyd Banks, Jasmin Geljo, Max McCabe-Lokos
release US 24.Jun.05,
UK 23.Sep.05
05/US Universal 1h33

They're coming to get us: Baker and Hopper

leguizamo hopper argento


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Land of the Dead Giving the genre back to the man who created it was a great idea. This is easily the most entertaining and inventive zombie movie in years (if you don't count Shaun of the Dead, whose creators have cameos here, so they must have done something right).

After a Night ('68), Dawn ('79) and Day ('85), the undead rule the world, while the living cower in the remnants of a fortified city. The rich live in oblivious splendour in a glitzy tower managed by Kaufman (Hopper). A small group of fighters prowl for supplies, led by Riley (Baker), who works with Cholo (Leguizamo) to maintain a semblance of safety. But the zombies are running out of food as well (they eat the living), and they're learning, or rather, remembering where to find fresh meat.

As with his previous films, Romero draws striking parallels with the modern world without ever getting obvious about it. This is extremely clever social satire buried in a rip-roaring action movie that isn't afraid to get squirm-inducingly gruesome. It's also unafraid to mix things up a bit--the living aren't necessarily the good guys this time. And Romero creates this environment in a fully realised, extremely stylish way.

The cast is strong as well. Baker holds it together in the handsome hero role, while everyone else gets to be quirky and/or scary. But what makes this so enjoyable is Romero's powers of invention; this is definitely a new generation of zombie movie. It's great to see that Romero hasn't succumbed to trendy filmmaking pitfalls. He concentrates on characters and plot coherence, even at the expense of big set pieces (there are some) and overwrought effects.

While there are scary sequences, he's more interested in provoking his audience with originality and wit. His playful riffs on the first vs third world and the West vs the Axis of Evil are eerily astute--they send almost as many chills down your spine as the next massively violent action sequence. Yes, the scariest thing about this film is the way it so accurately describes the real world we live in.

cert 15 themes, strong violence and gore, language 28.Jul.05

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Land of the Dead zombie fan, net: 5/5 "I loved this movie! It was one of the best zombie films ever in my books. I am still struggling to see how people didn't like this movie. Also, it has great special effects!" (30.Jun.06)
2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall