11 May 2020 | gogoschka-1
A Non-Stop Thrill Ride With Pitch-Black Humor, A Great Cast And Excellent Makeup Effects
I'm a Romero nut (for those among you who don't know the name George A. Romero: that was the genius writer/director who single-handedly created the modern zombie film and who also wrote and directed the original 'Dawn of the Dead' in '78), so you may believe me when I say I wasn't impressed when I heard there would be a remake of the zombie maestro's famed horror classic. Truth be told, I was absolutely determined to hate this new film when it came out - but boy, was I in for a pleasant surprise!
As it turned out, Zack Snyder's remake isn't just a re-hash of Romero's film but offers a very different take on the material and deserves to be recognized based on its own merits as one of the most entertaining entries in the particular horror sub-genre that is the zombie film. The James Gunn script is hilariously funny throughout - in a pitch black kind of way - and there is simply not a dull moment in it.
Furthermore, the cast consists of great character actors who are totally game (Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Michael Kelly and Ty Burrell among others); the gore effects are insane and the zombie makeup is the best pre-'Walking Dead' in any zombie movie by far. I'm inclined to believe that had this film been made by a less divisive director than Snyder, it would have since gone on to be regarded a B-movie horror classic for the ages.
It's true that the scathing social commentary which elevated the original "Dead Trilogy" above simple gore-fests is largely absent from the remake, but I don't see this as a flaw in the new film. The political subtext in Romero's films was effective in part because it was so subversive at the time; a remake repeating those same beats more than two decades later simply wouldn't have the same impact (which Romero himself actually went on to prove with his far from bad but oddly dated "New Dead trilogy" consisting of 'Land of the Dead' (2005), 'Diary of the Dead' (2007) and 'Survival of the Dead' (2009) ).
What 'Dawn of the Dead (2004) does brilliantly instead is focus on the characters. Every single player in the remake is fun to watch; even the supporting characters are colorful and more than "one-note" and have their own arcs. I would also like to point out that while Gunn's script is lighter on social commentary than Romero's, it's far from dumb, and the story beats are interesting and unpredictable enough to keep you invested throughout.
To sum it all up: While I love Romero's film for its clever subtext and critique of consumerism, its impact on the horror genre and its entertainment value, I love Snyder's version for the pitch black humor, the great cast as well as the pure spectacle and non-stop thrill-ride it provides. As far as action-horror films go, it actually doesn't get much better than this: Dawn Of The Dead '04 is simply an A+ genre flick that deserves to get more recognition.
About this review: tastes in film obviously vary greatly, so if you want to get a better reference if mine generally aligns somewhat with yours, I created a list of my 50 favorite films on my imdb page which should leave you in no doubt about what kind of stuff I'm into (just click on my name if you're interested).