Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Dawn of the Dead 2004

This is the remake of the 1978 George Romero classic of the same name.  Here is a link if you want to compare the two movie reviews.

Dawn of the dead starts with a young nurse working her shift at the hospital.  She's complaining that its been so busy that she was suppose to leave hours ago, but the complaints fall on the deaf ears of a Doctor more interested in his golf tee time the next day then the well being of his nurses.  She finally gets to go home and has a date night with her husband.  Unfortunately they are woken up the next morning by a 9-year old neighbor girl who appears to be gravely injured.  She dials 911 while her husband goes to the little girl and the little girl bites him in the neck causing extreme and rapid blood loss, causing him to die within seconds.  If only he were actually dead.

She manages to throw the little girl into the hallway and lock the door, but then her husband stands back up.  He appears fine, except when she calls his name he looks at her with a glassy stare and immediately attacks her.  Barely making it into the bathroom, she locks the door behind her while he pounds on it with all his might, never saying anything.  Finally he stops banging on the door, and what glimmer of hope she had is dashed when she calls out to him, hoping he had calmed down.  He responds by flinging himself at the door, smashing his head through it and causing severe damage to his face.  She manages to narrowly escape through the bathroom window.  What she finds outside is even worse.

The world seems like its on fire.  There is screaming everywhere, neighbors eating neighbors, cars driving by like maniacs to escape.  After an attempted car jacking she meets a police officer and follows him.  Together they meet a group of three people and they decide to team up to get into the mall.  There they will have food, shelter, weapons, and most important of all: hope.

Although this movie has some of the same elements as the original, calling it a copy is a bit of a stretch.  None of the characters are the same, their situation in the mall isn't the same, their motivations aren't the same, and to top it off the zombies are different.  George Romero zombies are always slow, their greatest strength is numbers and the unwillingness of their loved ones to put them down.  In this version they are very fast after they are turned, so their greatest strength is the speed in which they can attack and turn victims into zombies.  This change gives the zombies a more terrifying presence, and it also makes the survivors seem much stronger when they do take one down.  Any yahoo with a gun or even a hammer can kill a slowly shambling zombie, but when that zombie is running at you at top speed only skilled, trained, or incredibly lucky individuals would survive such an attack.

I know what you're thinking: But does this change make it a better movie?  I would hesitate to say it is better then the original, but I would say it is good in its own right.  They are two very different movies because the two use very different arsenals to invoke emotion and sympathy.  The original used the somber: no contact with the outside, no idea if they would ever leave the mall, and very slowly having to watch others succumb to the zombie virus. The new version uses shock: sudden, intense attacks, very quick and strong reactions from the characters, and any missions they have are usually brief and filled with firefights.

This creates two very different movies, both of which I would recommend.  The one thing the new version has over the original are the special effects.  The makeup work in the original wasn't very good (lots of blue faced zombies)  and computer graphics didn't exist yet so they had no way to smooth some rough edges and it limited them in what the characters could do.

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