Sunday, February 05, 2006

Mallrats And Deadheads

A Movie Review

About a month ago when I went to buy my own copy of Shaun of the Dead ("A hit romantic comedy, with zombies") I got it in two-pack with the 2004 version of Dawn of the Dead (directors cut). Now the Zombie movie is one film genre I must confess to knowing next to nothing about, I haven't even seen the preeminate zombie flick Night of the Living Dead. However since zombies have seemingly come back in vogue over the last few years, and as I did quite enjoy Shaun I decided to give the undead a try.

Newbie director Zack Snyders Dawn of the Dead is a lose remake of zombie dean George Romeros 1978 film of the same name. In this new version Sarah Polley (she's all grown up), plays Ana an overworked nurse living in a Milwaukee suburb with her nice guy husband/boyfriend. After coming off a long shift at work Ana and her husband spend some intimate time together ignoring the breaking news bulletins on television (I take it this is often a fatal thing to do in zombie movies). Within the first seven minutes of the movie a young neighbor girl comes into their house and zombiefs Ana's man by biting him. Forced to make a run from her home our heroine soon discovers that zombie induced chaos has descended upon Wisconsin, she is then forced off the road when someone (a panicked non-zombie) tries to get in her car and drives down an enbankment and crashes into a tree. Ana is knocked unconscious long enough for the cool opening title sequence with the Johnny Cash song but luckely not long enough to get got by a zombie. She is reawakened by a cope named Kenneth (Ving Rhames), and the two quickly join up with a group of three additional survivors, Andre (Mekhi Phifer of ER), his big with child Russian wife Luda (Inna Korobkina) and television salesman Michael (Jake Weber the husband on Medium).

Being five people of the modern age the group decides to go to the mall, this is acutely fairly logical as the zombie crises broke during hours when the mall was closed and the building would make a good fort. After breaking in to the mall they destroy a zombie janitor and security guard before hooking up with the at first not very likeable C.J. (Michael Kelly) and his two fellow surviving security guards. With plenty of food and supply's and the undead not smart enough to be able to break inside, this group of survivors knows they are okay for the time being, at lest until the TV goes out and more and more zombies begin to congregate around the mall.

Later our Mallrats are joined by another group of about eight survivors fleeing from an overrun 'evacuation center' at a Catholic Church. In addition to all these people the group also has contact with Andy (Bruce Bohne) the owner of a gunshop across the street from the mall who has taken up a sniper position on the roof of his store, they communicate with each other through messages written on white boards and read via binoculars. Knowing that they can't hold out forever the group eventually comes up with a plane to rescue Andy, get lots of weapons out of his store and take off in improvised armored mall parking buses for the marina. At the marina the group will escape in a boat owned by annoying yuppie Steve (Ty Burrell) and set off for some islands in the great lakes that hopefully aren't overrun by zombies. The preparation and institution of this plan lead up to the climax of the movie.

I was surprised to see how much I liked this movie, despite its much gore. Desperate people trapped in confined quarters and facing impossible odds simply makes for great drama, just ask Stephen King who routinely follows this scenario. All in All Dawn of the Dead is a great zombie movie that makes me want to explore the genre further. In closing I just want to say that the 'shoot a celebrity game' they play in this flick is sickly hilarious.


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