Thursday, October 13, 2005

Land of the Dead

I should preface this by saying I love horror movies. Unfortunately I did not make it to the theaters to see the latest from Romero, "Land of the Dead." I did, however, get a hold of a copy before it came out on DVD (yes, MPAA lawyers, I will be buying it).

The plot of this movie is fairly simple. Zombies control the majority of the planet save for the few cities that have fortified themselves from the outside world. Most residents are very poor and simply exist outside the lone, iconic tower of wealth. The city raids nearby small towns for supplies. The leader pisses off one of the workers, who steals the city's armored Winnebago to extort money from that leader. The main characters must retrieve the vehicle as a group of pissed off but evolving zombies advance on the city.

High Points
The gore effects were pretty good, very similar to "Day of the Dead" but mostly shrouded in shadow. Assuming all scientific fact has been thrown out the window, the vision of a post-human, zombie-controlled world was believable and acceptable including the return of some basic skills like communication and improvisation to the dead and the continuation of familiarity concepts from "Dawn of the Dead". Even the idea of cities fortifying themselves around the rich then doing their "dirty" work was believable, with most concepts of life covered (like defense systems, waste disposal, "raiding" nearby towns for supplies, etc.)

The Good
The acting was generally good. The zombie acting was exceptional as I think the Romero version of a zombie has been solidified down to behavior, uniform mobility and attack (i.e. more of a spill forth and overwhelm).

The Okay
The plot seemed just okay to me. Basically it was an event wrapped around concept. The idea of vehicle recovery seemed a little forced as all it really did was provide filler for the progress of zombies from a raided town to the "luxury" of the city. Some of the one-on-one sequences were unrealistic.

The Bad
Personally, I thought the ending sucked. It wasn't uplifting nor catastrophic, it just ended and the characters rode off in the night. I guess I was expecting some sort of finality but this could easily translate into another film with similar situations but different characters. Actually, with the original "Night of the Living Dead" being the exception, the other two films ended this way as well.

I read some of the reviews at Rotten Tomatoes. Some of them were pathetic. If you're not going to try to like the film why bother going to see it and review it? It's like going to a steak joint to write a review for a vegetarian magazine. A lot of reviewers were liking or disliking this movie based upon Romero's "social commentary" and I don't think this is fair. George gets his statements in regarding wealth classes and the "we don't deal with terrorists" line but to judge an entire movie by it seems wrong. I agreed with Roger Ebert in that it would be interesting to just have a movie based on life in the city. Actually wouldn't it be great if the whole "Dead" concept was turned into a television series?

If I were to rank the "Dead" movies and their remakes I would probably go with:

  • "Dawn of the Dead" remake
  • "Night of the Living Dead"
  • "Dawn of the Dead"
  • "Land of the Dead"
  • "Day of the Dead"
  • "Night of the Living Dead" remake

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