Hello, thar. Meinos Kaen here!
Let's see what staying up all night has brought me, yes? Since I was in the mood for some disturbed sleep -although I have to admit that after reading The Zombie Survival Guide zombie movies don't bother me as much anymore- I decided to watch the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead. Romero's original movie is maybe the best one among the many of his series, all in the line that he used the dead to talk about the living, and the society. This doesn't go that far, but makes up for it with other stuff. Let's go see in detail why this movie earns a 8/10 on the Meinos scale of awesomeness.
The opening sequence is very well paced. We start with the female protagonist, a nurse, working in a hospital, where we can see all subtle hints that shit is indeed about to happen. She misses most of them, but the way she does so is realistic and with an explanation. Like she misses the emergency broadcast because she's with her hubby in the shower having smex.
Then the next morning, the neighbour's kid walks inside zombiefied. Hubby gets bitten, she starts running and ultimately crashes. The three big differences with the original movie are immediately evident: the group of survivors arrives at the mall almost immediately, while Romero spent the first third of the movie on the road; the group of survivors is much bigger in number compared to Romero's version; the survivors don't want to live utopia in the mall, they'd like to leave and say so from the start.
Also, as I said, unlike Romero who focused on the effects on societal behaviour, this movie focuses more on the effects such an event can have on people's psyche, and this movie has two honorable mentions. The first is the subplot of the family man, the father-to-be played by Mekhi Phifer who has to go through the apocalypse with a wife in the last months of pregnancy -warning, it's nightmare fuel-. The second one is probably the best fleshed out character of the movie, CJ, played by Micheal Kelly.
Kelly starts by playing the mall's head security guard who didn't want to let anyone in, generally being a untrusting asshole all around, but not without good reason. His worry was that infected people would come in if they started opening their doors, and that's what happens. He's an asshole, but an intelligent one. In the end he gets overthrown and thrown in 'prison'. He later gets out because they need his help during an electrical failure, and he shows competence, as expected by a security guard, but throughout the rest of the movie he goes through character development and a personal growth. His death may be cliché and ultimately able to be avoided, but it was hella cool. To CJ goes the crown of best fleshed out character and also the best quote of the movie.
“Excuse me, not to shit on anyone's riff here, but let me see if I grasp this concept, okay? You're suggesting that we take some fucking parking shuttles and reinforce them with some aluminum siding, and then just head on over to the gun store where we watch our good friend Andy play some cowboy-movie, jump-on-the-covered-wagon bullshit? Then we're going to drive across the ruined city through a welcome committee of a few hundred thousand dead cannibals. All so we can sail off into the sunset on this fucking asshole's boat? Head for some island that for all we know doesn't even exist?”
“Yeah.” “Pretty much, yeah.” “Yeah.”
“Okay. I'm in.”
Of course, the movie is not perfect. It suffers from the pathological need for drama and character death of these movies and of course, clichés. I wish there was a zombie movie where all the characters survived. Apart the cliché in the beginning, as in splitting up and exploring alone and, and a retarted choice in weaponry when a character drops a metal crowbar for a general store quality wodden croquet hammer *holds the bridge of his nose*, at least most of the other deaths made sense enough or the characters never died for the sake of drama. My favourite is in the finale where the organist learns why it's not a good idea handling chainsaws on a moving and bucking bronto-like bus.
All in all, the film is solid. It could have been even more awesome if they polished those last rough edges and removed the need for drama, which could have brought the final survival count higher and I'm sure they could have made the public make peace with it. Also, can't forget the cameos from the original cast of the Romero version.
There has been rumors of a sequel for a while. Good.
It's going to be made by the director of The Thing's prequel. Bad.
Meinos Kaen out!