Dawn of the Dead is one of only a few horror remakes that was any good (off the top of my head, The Thing and The Fly are others) and as Zack Snyder’s feature film debut it’s a solid start as this was quite entertaining even if the social commentary gives way to cool action.
Dawn of the Dead
— Collector’s Edition —
Shout Factory | R/Unrated – 101 min. / 110 min. – $34.93 | October 24, 2017
Date Published: 10/13/2017 | Author: The Movieman
THE MOVIE — 3.75/5
Note: This portion was copied from my original 2004 DVD review.
It is rare for me to actually be scared while watching a movie, but the latest horror remake, Dawn of the Dead certainly did. However, not only is it scary, but it also has humor and now it actually has a little character development as well. Director Zack Snyder adds about 10 minutes to the film with an “Unrated Director’s Cut”.
In all honesty, I’m not the biggest fan of the horror genre fan. Add into the mix, that I haven’t seen many zombie movies and the one’s I have were merely decent (like 28 Days Later). The main problem that I’ve seen with the latter, in particular, is there is no explanation of why or how these zombies do what they’re doing. While Dawn of the Dead has this problem, it didn’t matter. This was, simply put, a great popcorn movie to see in the middle of March.
The film is about five strangers caught up in madness when suddenly an entire city seems to be falling into ruins and the people are turning into zombies (they seem to love to setting things on fire). The group consists of: Ana (SARAH POLLEY), a wife who sees her husband become one of them, Kenneth (VING RHAMES), a cop, Andre (Phifer) and his pregnant girlfriend Luda (INNA KOROBKINA), and Michael (JAKE WEBER) who… I can’t really remember why he was there. Anyways, the five of them have the idea to hold out at the local mall called “Crossroads Mall” (I would think at that point, it wouldn’t look too promising). After breaking in, they encounter the mall’s three security guards, the leader, named CJ (MICHAEL KELLY), is the take charge kind and who also looks out for numero uno.
After clashing heads and some zombie killing, the group bands together to make a game plan- one part included making signs on the mall roof in hopes of getting the attention of the rescue team and another part to figure a way out and through the swarm of zombies that have gathered at the Crossroads Mall.
Of course, no horror movie would be complete without some more people (to be zombie food). So, in comes another truck load of five or six characters including a rich jerk named Steve (TY BURRELL), and a father and his daughter.
This is basically a popcorn flick in March. Before you go in, you must leave logic and common sense at the door because you ain’t going to find it here. Do not ask yourself: How did these zombies come into being? The movie does begin at the hospital where a patient had come in after he was bitten (not shown) and while this satisfies how everyone else becomes infected, we don’t know how this individual was infected (not even, shock of all shocks, the government knows). But all of that isn’t even a quibble with me after the movie got rolling. It became what intended: a gory, popcorn romp, thriller. Plain and simple.
The acting for the most part isn’t anything spectacular or even memorable but actors like Sarah Polley and Ving Rhames both do good jobs playing the leaders of the pack. The others are more caricatures rather than flesh and blood characters but they too are decent for the roles they were playing. For instance, you’ve got CJ, the head security guy who starts out calling the shots but soon loses his position to Michael. And there were the usual comedic relief involving Andy the gun shop owner from across the street, taking out some celebrity-looking zombies.
The direction was handled by Zack Snyder in his first major motion picture and probably this was his most complete work and didn’t rely on slo-mo shots though he does utilize extreme close-ups of bullet shells dropping to the ground. Obviously Snyder would go on to bigger projects like 300, Watchmen, Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the upcoming Justice League, but I enjoyed his venture here compared to his big budgeted projects.
In a genre that can easily fall into the traps of clichés, predictability and mediocrity, Dawn of the Dead instead is a very fun movie that not only has some good thrills and lots of gore (a must in for a horror movie), but also is a movie that I can see becoming a cult classic for the 21st century much like the film it was based upon was.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.0/5
This two-disc release comes with a matted slip cover and the inner cover is reversible revealing the movie’s original poster artwork.
Disc 1 (Theatrical Version):
I have to say, all of these were absolutely fascinating to watch and in particular, the Burrell and Weber seemed to genuinely enjoy their time working on the film. Each of these interviewees tells stories on the set.
Deleted Scenes (11:30; SD) – Here we get some scenes that didn’t make the theatrical cut. Presented in non-anamorphic widescreen and comes with an optional commentary by Zack Snyder and Producer Eric Newman
Also included is the Theatrical Trailer (2:34; HD) and a Photo Gallery (8:12; HD).
Disc 2 (Unrated Version):
Audio Commentary – Director Zack Snyder and Producer Eric Newman
Andy’s Lost Tape (16:22; SD) is a short film of the gun shop owner taping his experience. Not the best performance or anything, but fun to watch.
Special Report: Zombie Invasion (21:05; SD) is just news footage shot for the film.
Undead and Loving It: A Mockumentary (5:09; SD) – Here we get interviews with the crew doing a spoof talking about using “real” zombies.
Drawing the Dead (2:48; SD) is on the storyboards drawn by Snyder.
Last up are Storyboard Comparisons (5:51; SD).
VIDEO – 4.25/5
|Shout Factory releases Dawn of the Dead in its original 2.35 widescreen aspect ratio and a new 1080p high-definition transfer taken from the 2K Digital Intermediate on the theatrical version while the unrated cut is the same but the extended scenes with HD inserts. As it is, the picture looks good though in Snyder fashion, there is an almost high contrast look but colors do have some pop and dark levels are nice and stark.|
AUDIO – 4.0/5
|The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is more than adequate for this horror-actioner. The dialogue levels do sound crisp, clean and clear while the few action sequences, like explosions, provide some modest depth kicking on the LFE to some decent effect. It’s not exactly reference quality but still sounds great.|
OVERALL – 4.0/5
Overall, Dawn of the Dead is one of only a few horror remakes that was any good (off the top of my head, The Thing and The Fly are others) and as Zack Snyder’s feature film debut, with some of his Snyder-isms on display, it’s a solid start as this was quite entertaining even if the social commentary gives way to cool action. This “Collector’s Edition” Blu-ray offers up immense video/audio transfers and a great selection of bonus features.
Check out some more 1080p screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.