Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

You're probably wondering why I watched the re-make instead of the original. If you aren't wondering that you've either assumed I have shit for taste or you weren't aware there was an original. In either case, fuck you.
This movie gets a bad rap, and it deserves it. I haven't seen the original in a long ass time, so I can't really compare the two, but this movie has no problem being shitty on it's own. It starts out well enough, we meet our main character, establish that she is a nurse and that she lives a very normal suburban life. That lasts all of five minutes. All hell breaks loose with no warning. Suddenly picturesque suburbia is swarmed by the hungry un-dead and the sounds of chaos fill the air. Girl scouts bite into soccer moms, your pleasant neighbor has a gun pointed at you and nobody has explained one god damned thing. That is what I want from a zombie movie. I know the rules, you can establish them as we go for the benefit of everyone else, just make it seem organic.

But no, after a few more blissful minutes of survivors grouping up, seeking shelter and combating the most deadly enemy of all in a zombie outbreak, man, we dive into what feels like at least an hour of exposition and boredom. The monotony is broken up here and there by events which in and of themselves are pretty boring and at one point some really awful softcore porn. Probably the highlight of the middle of the film is Richard Cheese's lounge version of Disturbed's "Get Down With The Sickness" being played over a montage of unexciting life for the survivors in the mall. Please know I say that as a man who dislikes lounge music, has no love for the song being covered and finds very little joy in the irony of their combination.

All of our characters are stereotypes; something I would have no problem with given it's a zombie film except that we spend so much time with these characters. The snarky asshole is a snarky asshole, the tough cop with a heart of gold acts like you'd expect and the depressed teenage girl does depressed teenage girl things like become attached to a dog and paint stuff. We get to see them exhibit their one dimensional personalities, a lot. Fuck you Zack Snyder there is nothing good about what you do. 300 had some interesting visual elements to it, but that was only 3, maybe 5 minutes worth of material you stretched over 117 minutes. Watchmen...you know what you did. You better know what you did.

Anyways, when they finally leave the confines of the mall, they do so in large armored vehicles. This is an excuse to have expensive stunt work and bigger explosions. It made sense in the context of the film but staying in the mall made a lot more sense, even if it meant the death of the angsty teenage girl who was already dead in all likelihood anyways. In the supplementary material Andy, the most interesting character in the entire movie despite the lack of screen time, tells us he has enough guns and ammunition to take out several thousand zombies, which he doesn't do for whatever reason despite being barricaded in his very own gun store. Anyway the ending is a welcome return to action, but it's too little too late. Given how heavily armed the survivors are and their armored transport we have to rely on them to make some pretty big errors for anything interesting to transpire. As the credits roll we get an epilogue of sorts, and while it isn't necessarily a closed ending it feels pretty definitive.

There are a lot of stupid things about this movie, it tries to be funny in ways that make me think a 16 year old was involved with writing the script and that's never a good thing. It accomplishes in 101 minutes what it could've done in 30 and probably have been better for it. All that said, it isn't the worst zombie movie ever made (though not for lack of trying). The television broadcasts shown in the beginning are kind of interesting, we do get a few minutes of good movie at the start and it has a zombie baby which is kind of an interesting idea. If you're new to the zombie subcategory of horror films you might enjoy it, even if you could spend your time watching an almost infinite number of films that would be more worth your time.

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