|Directed by:||Zack Snyder|
|Written by:||James Gunn|
|Cast:||Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer|
A nurse, a policeman, a young married couple, a salesman, and other survivors of a worldwide plague that is producing aggressive, flesh-eating zombies, take refuge in a mega Midwestern shopping mall.
This remake of Dawn of the Dead is director Zack Snyder’s first movie on his ever-growing list of films he’s directed, and since this movie has made quite a name for himself. Having directed film such as 300 and Watchmen after this, there’s no doubt that Snyder has some talent and might not have actually gotten lucky with this remake of Romero’s classic film. The thing about Snyder’s remake is that it’s obviously updated to our time, but on top of that we get a lot more blood and gore this time around. I love that Snyder doesn’t necessarily remove any elements from the first film, but actually builds on top of it to make it a little better than it already was. I give all the credit of the Dawn of the Dead name to the original film, but this remake is definitely one of the best horror remakes to date, if not the best. Snyder is able to create the “zombie mall” environment just as Romero did with his film, but he adds a bit more dirt and grit to his tale of survival. The acting is all fantastic, and for a cast of relative unknowns it’s not half bad. We also of course have the replacement of one of the most bad ass characters from Dawn of the Dead, and that was Ken Foree.
Foree’s character type was replaced in this remake by none other than Ving Rhames’ presence. There is honestly no other person I could see filling Foree’s shoes other than Ving Rhames, and he does a great job at playing the bad ass zombie killer of the movie. This Dawn of the Dead however, has a lot more characters than the original film did and it opens the film up for more story possibilities by doing so. Though there is a main group of survivors trying to stay alive, they are quickly met by a mall security guard force that proves to be the ones in control. I love that elements such as this one were added to the film because it creates for more than just humans vs. zombies, but actually humans vs. humans vs. zombies. It adds a lot more complication to a fairly basic story, and it’s basically what makes this film all the much better than the original. Also we have Sarah Polley who is another one of the main survivors in the film and she also does a fantastic job at playing her role, and doesn’t come off as corny once. On top of these few main characters there are a plethora of side characters such as the gun guy on the roof across from the mall and others.
It’s nice to see that Snyder was able to take not only a horror classic, but a film classic, and turn it somewhat into his own film without ruining the reputation of the original. It has every single element that was present in the original film, except that it transforms, recreates, or adds scenes that we didn’t see before. On top of that, the story and environment is modernized which helps most viewers my age get into the story. Those who don’t like the original film claim that it’s dated, and most usually will agree that this remake is a lot better than its predecessor. I’d have to disagree whole-heartedly, but this remake does a great job at modernizing the classic tale of zombie survival. This time around the mall and such definitely feels more at home, and I’m much more familiar with a mall and environment that looks the way it does in this movie. Also, there is a lot more added to the story as opposed to staying in the mall the whole time. What I love is that the story starts in the suburbs and shows the outbreak there, which is one hell of scene with neighbors being attacked and such. Not only that, but the survivors eventually make for an escape from the mall and craft some of the most heavy metal machines you could imagine to go out and fight the hordes of undead.
I love all that Snyder was able to add all of this awesome stuff without ruining what is a classic zombie film, and it goes to show just how much talent Zack Snyder may really have. He’s more than proven himself since this movie, and I’d definitely like to see him tackle the genre of horror again but maybe with his own original story. Being that this film was made after 28 Days Later… I get the feeling that the zombies were updated based on that movie alone, because before then there were no running zombies. In this film we are introduced to running zombies again, and that’s what also spices up this remake of Dawn of the Dead. All of these new twists and additions really make this movie stunning especially for a remake, and it’s good to see that someone actually handled the source material with care unlike most directors/writers nowadays. Snyder even took the time to find room for a very special cameo for Ken Foree of the original Dawn of the Dead, and it couldn’t have been a better cameo at that. This film just all around goes places that the original didn’t, but it does it while staying on the path that the original created. It’s sort of a movie that follows in the footsteps, but keeps on going where the last one left off.
This movie also did a few things for me outside of my enjoyment, and that was the discovery of none other than Richard Cheese. Cheese does a sort of lounge, slow rock kind of music but he actually parodies other people song’s. For instance, in this film his version of “Down with the Sickness” by Disturbed, is played often and even at the end. It’s a great version of the song and fits almost too perfectly with this film as did the score of the original film. You can see the resemblances in scores of both movies, and the mall music which I mentioned about the original as well is also a very big presence in the remake. Overall, Snyder did about as damn good of a job as he possibly could with such a classic film, and I really have to praise him for making such a good remake. Not too often anymore does the news or sight of a remake come with good feelings, but this is one that I think most can agree on, is actually great. I love that there is a whole new layer of the story, especially with the addition of many characters such as the security guards in the mall. All I know is, is that I’ll be like them on the roof and making the best of my situation by playing games with the zombies. For all I know, this is the last time I’m ever going to be able to have any sort of fun.