Thursday, October 28, 2004

Dawn of the Dead remake

I rented the Dawn Of The Dead (2004) Unrated Director's Cut from Netflix.

One may or may not recall that I thought it was a fun ride, but had major issues in places. Well, it didn't hold up very well to second viewing. The additions did nothing to fix the plotholes, change the pacing or add insight into characters that are of any interest. And watching it again, just made the old concerns (expressed in my original posts on March 17th and then on March 18th) seem even bigger. The characters seemed even more lifeless without the benefit of suspense.

The extras are a lot of fun, though.

Mind you, I don't mean the commentary. I tried to watch it, but it was utterly insipid. For example when Jake Weber switches his crow bar - what was it? a foot and a half? - for the croquet mallet, they mock him for his poor decision making... apparently under the impression that because the script called for the mallet to break, that it was the logical conclusion, and that because the breakaway prop mallet was made of balsa wood that a normal one would be.

Here's a challenge for you, Zack. We'll stand at arms length. I'll take croquet mallet and whack you in the head with a real croquet mallet, and if you're still awake... or even alive... when it breaks, you can come at me with a short crowbar. How's about it?

I'm pretty confident here. Hell, maybe overconfident. Come and get some.

So, if you haven't seen it, give it a rent, watch the special features, have fun. If you're hoping the new "director's cut" is any sort of noticable improvement, though, just skip it.

I'll take this opportunity, though, to reiterate how truly awesome the Dawn Of The Dead (1978) Ultimate Edition. It's like a little film school. Three differently edited, differently paced, differently scored versions of one sharp, well-written little masterpiece. There's a filmmaking commentary, an acting commentary and even a producer's commentary that discusses the business end of things in some detail.

And that movie holds up to all of that study.

Honestly, I think the fast vs. slow zombies is a key. Fast zombies are scarier in a much more superficial way. They're scary like soldiers or fiesty little demons. They create wonderful shocks onscreen but leave you with nothing. Slow zombies are haunted and haunting. They are us, the masses, dredging on mindlessly and pointless to feed on ourselves. They are a brilliant cinematic representation of the vampires in Richard Matheson's I Am Legend more stark and honest than a literal interpretation probably ever could be.

The fast moving zombie is a mindless and ultimately pointless adreneline rush for the coward. They can't keep you awake at night or haunt your thoughts with their powerful meaning. They are an empty thrill.

And that basically sums up the difference between the two films. Romero's film stays in your thoughts, gives you ideas, feeds your brain. Snyder's film is an empty thrill-ride. Fun but pointless...

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