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Dawn of the Dead

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Dawn of the Dead

Starring: Ving Rhames, Sarah Polley
Director: Zack Snyder
Rated: R
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: March 2004
Genres: Horror, Action

*Also starring: Mekhi Phifer, Jake Weber, Ty Burrell, Michael Kelly, Lindy Booth, Matt Austin, Boyd Banks, Jayne Eastwood, Ken Foree, Matt Frewer

Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

Playing like a cross between a National Rife Association ad and a rip-off of 28 DAYS LATER, DAWN OF THE DEAD is actually a remake of the 1978 film of the same name. As an extended teaser, the first ten minutes of the movie were shown recently on national television. This was a brilliant marketing strategy since this beginning segment of mayhem and death is the only consistently satisfying part of the picture. Most of the movie has as much dead air as dead bodies. The movie clearly wants to ride on the successful coattails of 28 DAYS LATER, another zombie flick. It is even shot and edited in the same grainy and jumpy style. But, while 28 DAYS LATER was an intelligent science fiction thriller with horror movie aspects, DAWN OF THE DEAD is more interested in the horror and the humor than it is in the story.

Thanks to their fourth amendment rights, Ana (Sarah Polley), Kenneth (Ving Rhames) and the rest of our rag-tag team are able to collect an arsenal of arms to fend off the zombies, which are called "twitchers." Only a shot to the zombie's brain kills them, and our shooters all turn out to be perfect marksmen who never miss. Our good guys are holed up at the local mall and don't know if anything else is alive in the greater Milwaukee area, where the story is set. In fact, they don't know much of anything, including how this disaster got started and how widespread it might be.

Although a thousand twitchers mill around outside the mall like teens at a rock concert, our team inside mixes worries with laughs. For people who are dealing with the end of the world, they are strangely obsessed with finding proper bathrooms. They spend their time playing basketball and having sex, among other activities. Most of this seems to serve only to kill time. The only truly ingenious part is a chess game, which Kenneth plays with a stranger on another rooftop. They communicate moves with binoculars and white boards.

The repetitive movie rapidly becomes tiresome. Only in the inevitable ending break for freedom does the movie again recapture some of the energy and imagination with which it started.

DAWN OF THE DEAD runs 1:45. It is rated R for "pervasive strong horror violence and gore, language and sexuality" and would be acceptable for older teenagers.

Copyright 2004 Steve Rhodes

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