(2004)


(Release Date: March 10, 2004)

2.5 Stars... Done of the Dud!2.5 Stars... Done of the Dud!1/2

Done of the Dud is derivitive of every Zombie movie but Dawn of the Dead!

Dawn Juan...
J.C. Maçek III
The UNDERWear's Greatest Critic!





Hey, momma, we're all dead now! (THIS IS A PARODY!)

A Spoiler-rich discussion of the remake

Spoilers follow. To read the Sidebar, Highlight the text, which will immediately become more clear than this plot!

Was there any good in this film? Quite a lot! The middle of the film brings forth some interesting untouched upon concepts that would have been fascinating in a movie independent of Derivation and corn and without a title that suggests a better film. For example:

  • A pregnant woman is Bitten by a Zombie. She not only becomes a Zombie, but her baby is born Pre-Zombified for your convenience!
  • A man (who looks strikingly like Max Headroom) is infected with the "Zombie Virus" (assuming there is such a thing) and is faced with not only his impending mortality, but the concept that after Death he's more than likely going to try to eat his daughter. The turmoil is tremendous.
  • A man is trapped alone on a nearby Store's roof. Unable to get to the man, the mall rats communicate through Dry Erase Marker Boards and Binoculars. (Though later when it's discovered that they all had walkie-talkies anyway the whole thing gets ruined!)
  • The gang gets together a Convoy of Mad Max style reinforced shuttles to break through the incredibly massive Zombie Hoards. Not only is this clever and cool, but the use of Propane Cylinders (that Hank Hill could have gotten them a Discount on) as Bombs leads to one or two incredible explosive scenes in cheap, yet effective slo-mo!

On the other hand there is so much crap in this movie that it almost amazes me that all three acts came from the same people. Here's what I mean:

  • Is it realistic to have a sad ending here? Like The Order before it, "Done of the Dud" can't leave well enough alone. This sort of "The Zombies got you anyway" ending maybe sets this up for a lame, non-Day of the Dead sequel, but it also makes for a completely unnecessary first two chapters. The same thing would have happened if they'd have given up immediately. "Oh, but this is real Life!" Yeah, right... How many Zombies have you fought, idiot?
  • The concept of the Zombification Method being traded through Bites constitutes a Gregory Benford Moment! All Zombie Lore is, and ought to be different, but if this claims to be a remake of the original, no matter how you die, you're raised as a Zombie. In the original it is a fact that the character of Roger DeMarco is bitten and becomes a Zombie, but this is because the Bite is Septic and causes death. Any dead-body rises again unless the Brain is destroyed! The use of the bite as some Vampiric Recruiting tool is for no reason but convenience, and maybe a cash in on 28 Days Later...!
    True, in Dawn of the Dead we're never told why these fuckers become Zombies, but all the promotional material explicitly stated that this is a Sequel to Night of the Living Dead. In Night of the Living Dead, cosmic radiation was the culprit so everyone, and I do mean everyone gets up and Kills!
  • Chips, man! Why the hell don't the Zombies eat the Dog? Convenience! The Zombies here apparently only want to eat Warm Bodies and are guided vaguely by remembered lifestyles (hence, converging on a mall). Is it more likely that a human will become a Cannibal than a Doggy-Eater? Fuck no!
  • If it's not a "warm body" that attracts Zombies to eating people, why don't they eat each other? Teamwork? If it is a "Warm Body," eat the Dog! And if the Zombie Bodies are Cold and Dead, how the hell do they move so fast? Rigor Mortis isn't just an '80's band!
  • In 28 Days Later... at least it made sense... "Zombies" were Human Beings, still alive, but infected with "Pure Rage" which caused them to go Postal on their fellow man! There, the bite made sense, it was an Infection. Here, they make Perfectly Clear that the Zombie-Mode takes place only after the pulse stops, and the human is completely dead. Man, you folks just didn't think this shit through did you?

-Spoil Sport Kneumsi!



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Zombies that can run. Zombies that can run! Zombie that can RUN? Zombies that can RUN!?!?! Okay!

After a rocky start this remake in name and setting only settles in to a respectable, story and character-driven groove during which some fantastic and ground-breaking Zombie moments can be enjoyed to the fullest. Then, like all corn-pudding remakes, Dawn of the Dead devolves into derivitive tripe and makes one wonder why they sat through this for so long!

Strangely, as deeply derivitive this film is of other Zombie movies (and Aliens and any number of other movies) Screenwriter James Gunn's script owes much more to 28 Days Later... and Resident Evil than it does the original Dawn of the Dead! It's clear and obvious that Danny Boyle's Medical shocker and Paul W.S. Anderson's Video Game adaptation borrowed liberally from Romero, but why should a Remake of Romero borrow back from them? Because Gunn and first time director Zack Snyder had enough good ideas for a half hour episode of UPN's Twilight Zone revival. The rest had to come from somewhere!

The plot here (which is thin) essentially gives us the story of Sarah Polley's Nurse Ana who awakens to find her normal world completely changed by what appears to be a viral outbreak that raises the dead post-mortem. Unlike apparently millions Ana gets lucky and ends up with a skeleton crew of sanctuary seekers who hole up in a mall (not an easy thing when the security guards there hate your guts).

What follows shares about as much with the original Dawn of the Dead as it does with Cheaper by the Dozen! The survivors are in a Mall... there are Zombies outside... End of similarity! The socially satirical commentary and the bleak loneliness are replaced by communal comfort (every time you turn around there's another refugee, some not even introduced) and lots of Coffee-swilling. Some scenes much more resemble an episode of CBS' Big Brother than Night of the Living Dead! While some of Snyder and Gunn's more interesting ideas come to fruition there's a whole lot of Sitting around and Bullshitting.

One area of positivity is the acting here. Polley's pretty good as the practical professional thrust into completely impractical situations. Meanwhile, Jake Weber (of HBO's annoying anesthetic The Mind of the Married Man) is likeable and believable as the unlikely leading-man and Thinker, Micheal! Ving Rhames is interesting as the tough and no-nonsense Cop, Kenneth, and would be great if it weren't for the fact that here he's essentially playing Ving Rhames and that the same type-role was done so much more effectively by Ken Foree!

Aside from these three essential leads, Mekhi Phifer is great as Andre, the sincere husband to his pregnant wife Luda (Inna Korobkina)! His pathos on the quest to honestly do right by his wife and due baby is palpable. Kim Poirier's Monica is an underused sexy addition and Lindy Booth also manages to do a great job as Nicole the youth unable to adjust to the now-psychotic world about her.

For his brief Cameo Matt "Max Headroom" Frewer gives one of the best dramatic performances of his career. Completely bereft of his goofy comedy, this serious Frank (Nicole's Dad) acts with his eyes, and really shows that the better days of Frewer can be had again, hopefully in a better vehicle.

And that's just a small percentage of the relatively huge cast of survivors. At one point I wondered if there was any crisis at all, as so many seemed to survive, and I longed for the desperation of the original's Gang of Four. Not only are some of the many, many characters ill-introduced, but they also manage to weigh down an otherwise decent cast and cause each character to be paper-thin and under-developed. What's the result? Stock, predictable characters more zombie-like than the undead outside!

In dealing with the Zombies, Snyder and Gunn allow themselves to pick and choose what Zombie-lore elements they feel like using at what moment, leading to an incredibly inconsistent menace. The Gregory Benford Moments are almost laughable, as the dead-and-looking-it Zombies manage super-strength, but can't break a window. The Zombies can run like the Flash one minute and are slow and unobservant when the Script calls for it.

Most strangely of all, medical elements of 28 Days Later... and Resident Evil take much more precedence than any part of Romero's universe. One would think that a "remake" would be derivitive of its source material, rather than other films that are good but don't share such a fantastic pedigree. The whole film has the feel that some whoreywood suit saw the relative success of 28 Days Later... and said, "Now what can we get that's like that?"

Not only does Gunn re-use elements of Danny Boyle's Indy, but Snyder himself actually switches unexplainably to a grainy and digitized image at the drop of a hat in an apparent "homage!" A hand-held camera epilogue (that gives us nudity, but no other real redeeming quality) doesn't help the similarities either.

It's all just too bad, because this had the potential to be one great Zombie film! The entire second act, though Gregory Benford and slow moving, brings forth some amazing visuals and surprising new takes on the Zombie Genre. There are also Cameos by original actors Scott H. Reiniger, Tom Savini (who also directed the remake of Night of the Living Dead), and Ken Foree who, like in the original, delivers the chilling Tag-Line "When there's no more room in Hell, the Dead will Walk the Earth!" The make-up and special effects are heavy and realistic to the point of suspension of disbelief. If it wasn't all draped across a poor script and repetitive, ham handed directing this might have been enough!

In short, it may be a treat for the eyes, but you'll owe your brain an apology! As a remake, I have four words for you: Planet Of The Apes!

A mere Two and One Half Stars out of Five for the remake of Dawn of the Dead. Good Acting doesn't make up for napkin-thin characters. A handful of good, and even great, ideas don't make for a derivative script, and the borrowing of other franchises' ideas don't bode well for the memory of what was a brilliant and original original! It's okay for what it is, but what it is isn't quite cinematic gold!

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Me... more than I loved this Piece of Viral Cinema!
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Dawn of the Dead (2004) Reviewed by a very disappointed J.C. Maçek III
who is solely responsible for his own views
and for his "pure rage" at ripping off ALL THE WRONG THINGS, Bee-Yawtch!!!
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