Written by: Matt Molgaard
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Cast:Sarah Polley, Ving, Rhames, Mekhi Phifer
Zack Snyder’s 2004 remake of the 1979 cult classic Dawn Of The Dead is absolutely brilliant. Remakes rarely succeed in reaching a parallel with their original predecessors, let alone surpassing them, but Snyder has pulled some tricks from the bag and succeeded at performing the near impossible. Excellent cinematography and top notch acting aided in the success of this remake, but it’s the character development that set’s it so far apart from the original; and it‘s the modern vision of zombies that creates a very real fear.
Apparently zombies have taken to evolution. They’ve sped up just as much as technology. Long gone are the slow stalking zombies of the 70’s, we’re dealing with a hyper breed who have no qualms with sprinting after potential prey. The speed in which these zombies move raises the tension bar significantly, and the cinematography really helps to exaggerate the rate in which the zombies move, which in turn conjures serious scares. Long time make up effects veteran David Anderson works his wonderful magic and brings some outlandish gore to the film that’s sure to turn the stomach’s of those faint of heart. To complete the list of behind-the scenes enhancements that make this film so special is James Gunn, who did a wonderful job transforming an classic into a modern fright fest. Without his surrealistically realistic screenplay, there is serious chance this movie failed, and this review would be headed in another direction.
As previously mentioned, the character development in this film is fantastic. A strong cast, lead by Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames and Jake Weber are only a piece of the puzzle. Nearly every supporting actor or actress deliver believable performances, and each carry their dialogue well. The humor is edgy, but effectively funny, and works to lull viewers into a false state of ease. Relative newcomer Ty Burrell provides a stand out performance as the obnoxious rich playboy, and Mekhi Phifer gives a good showing as Andre, the soon to be father who will do anything to see his baby born alive. Matt Frewer is simply haunting as Frank, a father recently bitten by a zombie and Lindy Booth is overly convincing as his annoying daughter.
While the story hasn’t changed much in relation to overall plot, it’s seen improvements in the hands of James Gunn. The surroundings are still the same, the zombies are still eating flesh, and the survivors are still trying to survive. This time around however, Snyder provides the time and focus to allow viewers to get to know each character. The dialog is strong, which really makes it easier for viewers to relate to the characters. This is where the 2004 version of excels, and clearly defines itself as the superior of the two films. The combination of all highlighted strengths are what ensure this film will live on to become a classic, and not simply, another remake of a classic.