Dawn of the Dead (2004) - Widescreen Edition

Genre(s): Horror / Thriller
Universal || R - 100 minutes - $12.98 || October 26, 2004
Reviewer: Kushmeer Farakhan || Posted On: 2004-10-22


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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

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: 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:
  • Director & Producer Commentary
  • The Lost Tape: Andy's Last Horrific Days
  • Special Report: Zombie Invasion
  • Deleted Scenes


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

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

I still love this movie. I saw it in theatres back when it was first released (read my original review and for the most part my view of it hasn't changed. FOR THE MOST PART. The only thing I don't like now is that now i feel the film is a bit too long and that Meki Phifer's character went out pretty ridiculously. Also, unless you have a home entertainment system, the effect the film has on someone in the movie theatre is no longer as visceral as it is at home. I no longer jumped, I no longer gasped, BUT I still had a good time and the film is still highly recommended.

Original Review:
The revitalization of horror continues. I'm not exactly sure how it started but somehow in the last couple of years, horror films have become profitable endeavors again. Not too many original ideas in the bunch. Most are just remakes and sequels to older franchises but that isn't really a bad thing. In the case of the remake of George A. Romero's 1978 horror classic Dawn of the Dead it not only turns out to not be a bad thing, it turns out to be an AMAZINGINLY entertaining thing. More so than the original even.

The remake doesn't have a ton of setup but the suddenness of suspense that the viewer is thrust into is chilling. The first character we meet is Ana (Sarah Polley), a nurse who is just coming home to her daughter and husband after a long shift. Then they turn into bloodthirsty zombies who try to eat her. Within minutes of this scene, the entire world (as we are shown from news clips, footage of rioting in the streets, etc.) is turned into a zombie feeding ground.

Ana manages to get to safety from her home and soon meets up with the other main characters: Kenneth (Ving Rhames) a cop, Michael (Jake Weber) the thinker of the group, and Andre (Mekhi Phifer) a former street tough who seeks only to get his pregnant wife to safety. The group heads to the nearest safe place they can find: the local mall. From then on, the movie is a pulse-pounding tale of the group's struggle to survive as hundreds more zombies(and a few other survivors) descend on the mall.

I know some will think I'm nutty, but I found this to be like 10x more entertaining than Romero's original version. Well Romero seemed to be intent on telling some kind of metaphorical tale about the media and consumerism, first time director Zack Snyder had only one purpose, to scare the living sh*t out of us. He succeeds almost effortlessly.

The gore and action sequences are cranked up to deafening in all their glory. Scene after scene after scene of people either turning into zombies, killing them, or trying to figure out how to stay safe from them. I particularly liked Mekhi Phifer's situation with his wife. That played out pretty interestingly in the end.

Dawn of the Dead succeeds because instead of being just a straight zombie movie, it plays as a sort of Die Hardesque action flick that never gives you time to catch your breath. The most exciting and heart pounding film I've seen since Aragorn reclaimed his birthright in Return of the King this past December. It's by no means in that film's league and it certainly has no business with anything related to the Oscars but if you're looking for a great time, you can't go wrong with the new Dawn of the Dead.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The Commentary: I like commentaries like this. Director Zack Snyder and producer Eric Newman discuss the film in length. The budget, how they shot certain scenes, which ones were CGI (VERY few CGI used) and through it all, they kept it light and fun while still being informative. I got kinda annoyed how they kept referring to people as "rock stars" but otherwise, It was pretty good. Not Kevin Smith commentary funny or as indepth and informative as some others but still a good listen.

The Lost Tape: I wasn't really big on the lost tape. It features some "recovered footage" shot by Andy, the character in the movie holed up in a gun shop as he tries to figure out what's happening outside and it chronicles his survival during the zombie chaos. It was a great idea for a featurette and one you don't see that often but the actor playing Andy was laying it on so thick and overacting to such a degree that I just grew annoyed afterawhile. Not terrible, but not worth more than one viewing.

Special Report: Zombie Invasion- This feature was a combination of various "news footage" made for the film and extended upon that chronicled what was going on in the world during the zombie outbreak. You had a news desk guy, numerous field reporters, footage of zombie attacks, the works. While this is in the same vein as the Lost tape, i found this infinitely more entertaining. It's a bit longer than the Lost tape and it has just a lot more going on. It doesn't rely on just one character to entertain us. I liked it.

Deleted Scenes: Nothing here to get excited about. I watched them with and without commentary and they're all mainly little more scenes of zombies snarling and a little more character development(but none that you really care about). Do I care how many jobs Jake Webber's character had? Not really. Did i want to see a subplot where the blonde girl is ultra b*tchy to the girl with the dog? No. From what i've been able to figure out, it appears that some of these scenes were added back into the unrated version which i can't say makes that version any better for it.

Surviving the Dawn: This is an really cool (but only like 20 minutes or so long) feature on the making of the film. You get standard stuff. Interviews with the cast and crew, etc. but it's never dull. I found it pretty cool that Ving Rhames liked the script so much, he sought out the producers while normally it would be them who sought out the actors. Honestly, i would have preferred this feature to be even MORE indepth and longer(i would've loved it if it had been an hour) but c'est la vie'.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

The sound was awesome. I don't have a big sound system but what i do have allowed my socks to be thoroughly rocked lol. The picture is also quite good. I was gonna give it just 4 stars but after listening to the commentary, I can better understand why some scenes looked a certain way even more than when i saw the film previously.



.::OVERALL::.

The theatrical edition is well worth a buy. I got it thinking I was getting something pretty bare bones but what you get is actually pretty indepth and fun to watch. For the casual fan, I'd highly recommend this version. For the hardcore fan, I'd say only buy this if you A: can't afford to buy the unrated one or B: you're a completist and you want both.