Dawn of the Dead (2004) - Unrated Director's Cut [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Horror / Thriller
Universal || Unrated - 110 minutes - $29.98 || September 30, 2008
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2008-09-24


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Zack Snyder
Writer(s): George A. Romero (1978 screenplay), James Gunn (screenplay)
Cast: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Webber, Mekhi Phifer


Theatrical Release Date: March 19, 2004


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • U-Control (BD Exclusive)
  • Feature Commentary


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (DTS MA 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

The first ten minutes of the film will grab you by the throat and keep you entertained the entire time.

If you've never seen the original Dawn of the Dead, the story may be a bit unfamiliar to you. We first find ourselves in the comfort of Ana (Polley), a nurse at the local hospital. After she arrives home after a long day of work, she settles in with her boyfriend for what she hopes to be a good night’s sleep. What she doesn't know is that an outbreak of Zombies is happening right outside her small little house... and soon a young child - recently infected - shows up to feast on some delicious fresh flesh.

After a dramatic escape, Ana finds herself wandering the streets and eventually meets up with several other individuals like Michael (Weber), Officer Kenneth (Rhames) and a young couple (Andre; Mekhi Phifer and Luda; Inna Korobkina), who just so happens to be pregnant. After some light traveling they decide the best place to hold up until the epidemic subsides would be the local shopping mall. With numerous supplies and many places to hide out it’s got to be the best place... right?

Soon the small group eventually finds its way into the mall where they are confronted by several security guards, all of which have the same plan as well - hide out until the epidemic subsides or live there for as long as possible. After some power plays, both groups eventually seek a common ground and after some time plan their escape.

Remakes typically suck. I can point my finger to many of them (Psycho, Amityville Horror) but in the case of Dawn of the Dead, the mold has been broken. When I first heard they were remaking one of my favorite movies I was pissed. I've seen so many other films go through the remake treatment and most suck. As I followed it through production and watched the various trailers... my opinion changed. It looked like it might actually be decent and on opening night, I did something I didn't think would ever happen - I bought a ticket. And then I did it again the next night with a friend, and yet another ticket a week after with my sister. Yeah, I saw the movie three times in theaters...it was that freaking fantastic.

What makes the remake such a great film is that it takes some of the best elements of the original Dawn and adds a more modern twist to it. The mall is now much bigger and includes a security room, parking garage and other neat surprises our characters find throughout the film. By far one of the best things they did was bring back some of the dropped story lines from the original Dawn script (a pregnant couple who give birth inside the mall) and include some small nuggets that only true Dawn fans would recognize (a clothing store named Gaylen Ross, the WGON helicopter, various actors).

Now... the one big change in this film (and many other zombie films nowadays) and that instead of slowly moving... the zombies run. Yeah, they now have super speed and strength which tends to move the pace of the film a bit more but for fans of Romero's original trilogy; well you might be a bit pissed about this. However I liked the fact that they changed things around a bit and the Zombies running gives them film a more modern style.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

All Special Features are presented in SD.

U-Control (Profile 1.1/2.0 Players Only) - Now, without watching all of the HD DVD previous features it looks like some of the 'missing' features are found here. While the U-Control runs most of the film, it feels like we are only getting snippets of the previous features. The problem with U-Control is that it has to be played during the film, which means you will hear the PiP track as well as the film as well which culminates into a confusing mess. If you don't have a Profile 1.1 player... well, you miss out on everything. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Commentary with Director Zach Snyder and Producer Eric Newman - Really worth a listen if you liked the film. By far the best aspect was he talks about what he changed in the remake from the original to give it a different feel.

What's missing? “The Lost Tape: Andy's Terrifying Last Days Revealed”, “Special Report: Zombie Invasion”, “Undead (Deleted) Scenes”, “Splitting Headaches: Anatomy of Exploding Heads”, “Attack of the Living Dead” and Raising the Dead” are all gone. Wow... way to drop almost every extra, Universal!



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Dawn of the Dead is presented in widescreen (2.35) on a 25GB Disc. Colors and Blacks look very nice, but it certainly does not have that HD 'pop' like some of the newer films. Don't get me wrong, the film looks good, but it appears to be just a wee to soft. A very thin layer of grain is present through most of the film which gives it a very nice stylized feel to it (much like Snyder's 300).

Universal has sliced up an English DTS MA soundtrack for this release. A very nice track that will bring plenty of limb-ripping in delicious lossless. This is easily one of Universal's best mixes so far on Blu-ray. As a small note, I did compare both the DTS MA and TrueHD (from the HD DVD) and found both to sound the same.



.::OVERALL::.

The original Dawn of the Dead is one of the greatest horror films of all time... and the remake is pretty darn close! While Universal has ported over the same impressive Picture and Sound, they slashed nearly every special feature from the previous DVD and HD DVD releases which means HD DVD fans should see no reason to dump their loaded HD DVD version. New fans... well, it’s a great film and if you have a BonusView player then by all means pick this release up...just beware, there is a 'superior' version on a dead format.