Time: 101 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence, horror and sex scenes
Sarah Polley as Ana Clark
Ving Rhames as Kenneth Hall
Jake Weber as Michael
Mekhi Phifer as Andre
Lindy Booth as Nicole
Kevin Zegers as Terry
Michael Kelly as C.J.
Ty Burrell as Steve Marcus
Director: Zack Snyder
When her husband is attacked by a zombified neighbor, Ana (Sarah Polley) manages to escape, only to realize her entire Milwaukee neighborhood has been overrun by the walking dead. After being questioned by cautious policeman Kenneth (Ving Rhames), Ana joins him and a small group that gravitates to the local shopping mall as a bastion of safety. Once they convince suspicious security guards that they are not contaminated, the group bands together to fight the undead hordes.
I had already seen the Dawn of the Dead remake and then the original a while ago, but with the announcement that Zack Snyder’s next movie would be returning to the zombie genre with Army of the Dead, I decided to watch his film again. I’ll admit that while I can appreciate the original film, I don’t exactly love it, it was quite slow and it didn’t leave much of an impact on me. I personally found the remake to be better, it’s fast paced, violent and really entertaining, very effective even in its simplicity.
Remaking one of the most iconic horror movies of all tie was really an ambitious task but screenwriter James Gunn actually did a really good job at updating it over 3 decades later. One of the best parts of the movie is that it keeps the plot moving constantly, never allowing you a chance to be bored, while not feeling overly rushed at any point. Despite being quite short at around an hour and 40 minutes, they managed to add emotion, humour and more in that time. The characters are pretty standard and aren’t special, however they are given some moments to give you an idea of who they are, which is a little better than most zombie movies which have the characters with little to no development or characterisation. The one thing that is missing from the original is the social commentary that George Romero had, the remake is a much more conventional and straightforward zombie movie. As a straight up zombie movie, I liked the remake more. Side note, the real ending of the movie plays during the credits, so be sure to stick around for it before switching it off because I didn’t know about it the first time I watched it.
The characters are written pretty simple but as I previously said, they are given enough moments of development and the cast do a good job in their roles. The stand outs were Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames (unsurprising given that he is always great in everything that he’s in) and Michael Kelly. The rest of the cast featuring the likes of Jake Weber and Mekhi Phifer were also really good for what they were given.
For a directorial debut, Zack Snyder did a really great job with this movie. Snyder’s movies are known for looking stunning and beautiful, from his next film 300 all the way to his latest Batman v Superman (no, I don’t really count Justice League to be one of his movies). Dawn of the Dead on the other hand has a more grimy look to it, fitting in with the tone quite well, and it still is a good looking movie. The action is fast paced and brutal, the zombies in this movie are the running and kill crazy type of zombies and are very nightmarish and dangerous, really feeling like a real threat. The violence and gore are really gruesome and gratifying, there are some very memorable and creative moments and the makeup effects were particularly great.
Dawn of the Dead is one of the few remakes that are better than the original. I guess it depends what you’re looking for, a slower paced zombie movie with social commentary, or a straight forward, albeit very well made and faster paced zombie movie, I happened to like the latter more. This movie is just full of exhilarating energy and is one of the most entertaining zombie movies I’ve seen. I’m very excited to see Zack Snyder make another zombie movie, after directing more movies since Dawn of the Dead, I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with Army of the Dead.