Dawn Of The Dead (2004)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 4/6/11
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, cameo by Tom Savini

Zack Snyder's remake of George Romero's original film pumps up the volume and updates the material to reflect the current trend of strong, fast, and aggressive zombies. The film starts with a bang as Ana (Sarah Polley) heads home from a long day of work at the local hospital. Pretty soon her entire neighborhood erupts into chaos with a fast spreading zombie virus, which forces Ana to flee. Unfortunately, there's nowhere to go, as the entire country gets infected within a matter of hours. She eventually meets up with a handful of other survivors and they make their way to a shopping mall. From there, it becomes a character study as the various personalities struggle to cope with their differences and try to stay alive. With supplies running low and desperation setting in, the survivors finally decide to make a run for the marina to procure a boat and sail to a (hopefully) safe island.

Overall, it's a pretty good zombie film as far as zombie films go, full of tense action, gruesome makeup, and gory visual effects. There is effectively no plot, and the entire movie simply involves throwing a bunch of disparate and unpleasant people together into a high stress survival situation and seeing what comes out of it. For the most part, the characters are fairly smart, although there are numerous forehead slapping moments of "what the hell are they thinking?!?" as well as a bunch of really awkward and awful dialog. Zack Snyder's joyless and no-nonsense approach is a welcome sight, which lays the foundation for his later films. It's a violent and unpleasant picture full of dread and death, and apart from Sarah Polley and Jake Weber, it's hard to sympathize with any of the characters.