Okay, the last thing I really wanted to do after the whole Night of the Living Dead affair last week was to see another damn zombie movie, but I have to say that this was a fantastic execution of a pretty damn cheeky move.
Remaking a George A. Romero zombie film is a pretty tall order, and I don't think that Tom Savini was all that successful with his redo of Night of the Living Dead, which lacked much of the rawness that made the original so successful. This version of Dawn of the Dead concentrates on making very interesting characters, and the cast is uniformly outstanding, with some very understated but naturalistic turns by Sarah Polley, Ving "Marsellus fuckin' Wallace" Rhames (Quentin, make another movie with this guy, he's awesome), Jake Weber (the only really good part of U-571) Mekhi Phifer and, shock of all shocks, an amazingly moving turn by Max Headroom himself, Matt Frewer. Some of the gore effects are a bit unnerving, but nothing on the order of how gross that scene in the original NOTLD is (you know the one I mean), and while the social commentary from the original is a bit muted in James Gunn's screenplay, it is still there, and there are little moments when it makes some comments of its own. It is, on the whole, some pretty damn good dramatic storytelling on the part of director Zach Snyder.
One can definitely see the influence of 28 Days Later here, although these are slightly more restrained in comparison to the adrenaline-charged deadites from that film. The way in which Snyder and Gunn combine the Romero dramatics with Danny Boyle's physicality is great, and the slickness of this new film never felt too forced to me. In fact, Matthew F. Leonetti's supersaturated 'scope frame (the Super 35 image looks great on DVD, but I expect that it looked like most Super 35 films do in the theater... like sandpaper) is one of the film's best assets.
Now, I have to somehow get to sleep. Promise me if they bite me, you'll do me in before I change?