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A Zombie Flick to Remember!!!
TheExaltedOne30 March 2004
Dawn of the Dead

I'm not sure I can recall witnessing an opening sequence quite like the one I saw in Zack Snyder's remake of the classic horror film 'Dawn of the Dead.' Besides being rather lengthy (it's over ten minutes before we see the opening credits), it has a bizarre creepiness about it. There's something about the cinematography employed to show us 'the beginning of the end' that I really liked: that extra long image of the little girl skating away, the skyview of Sarah Polly's car as she rides home from her shift as a nurse, the picture of perfect serenity, and those intimate scenes we see of her and her husband 'the day before.' It all makes it more tragic, when, quite unexpectedly, morning comes, and with it, the end of all that is sane. The pure chaos of the scenario, an outbreak of a dangerous break of a virus that turns those infected into ghouls, comes so suddenly that it grips us by the throat.

This is one hell of a horror movie. Even for someone as jaded as myself, who has become totally jaded to any real horror thrills, I was taken aback by how uncomfortable the movie made me feel. Our heroes, holed up at the now abandoned local mall, join small groups of survivors and find themselves fighting each other as well as the zombies when the plague starts creeping ever close to bringing them all to the brink of annihilation. The zombies have an easy-to-spot weakness: one shot to the head takes them out, but they're extremely fast, and a single bite from them leads to hopeless infection and mindlessness. Although some of the story makes little sense (for instance, if the zombies can only transmit the virus by bite and the heroes are in a mall, couldn't they don the heaviest attire imaginable rather than skimpy t-shirts?), there are lots of great twists and snappy dialogue along with the required creep-outs, gore, and slaughter.

And there's some surprisingly great humor. Easily the most memorable of the light-hearted, break-the-nerves moments is when our heroes are situated atop a roof and challenge a local gun shop owner to take out look-alike zombie celebrities, which he does with ease. It's a much needed laugh to relieve the audience of a lot of built-up jitters.

Overall, this is a remake that actually works. The characters, for all their strength and weaknesses, are decently fleshed out for a horror movie. There a few unexpected surprises that even the most attentive viewer will take pleasure in. And the action moves along at a clean, fast pace. The few holes that exist in the plot and the somewhat unsatisfying conclusion are the only real problem areas, but these are to be expected in the genre. Overall, I definitely recommend it, even to the squeamish. It's messy fun for everyone. And make sure you stay until AFTER the credits roll. You'll be glad you did.

Grade: A-
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Why I gave Dawn a 10 (well, maybe it should have been a9).
johnsigwald20 March 2004
I've been to thousands of movies in my lifetime and own hundreds of videos and DVDs, so I am a fan but not a bona fide film critic. This is my first online review.

My wife and I saw the original Dawn of the Dead 25 years ago at a midnight show and left wired enough to talk each other down till the morning. Perhaps a quarter of a century has inured us to the violence a bit since we just watched it again (rental video) last week prior to yesterday's venture to the local multiplex to see the remake/"reimagining" and were mostly unperturbed by the revisit.

For some reason, I was hooked on the new Dawn months ago from the teaser and, subsequently, the actual trailer. The Sparklehorse song in the former fit perfectly and the suburban shot followed by killer Vivian and closing with the burned projector film of the latter was intriguing in its own way. So I was primed to see the movie, usually a recipe for disaster since preview expectations are rarely fulfilled by the finished product. This time, however, they were.

The cast was uniformly believable and, more important, empathizable (at least with the good guys who got sorted out along the way). Even the playboy jerk had several relevant lines. Polley was a good, strong female lead (with another great rebuttal -- "No, I'm a * nurse" to a query about her medical skills) and Rhames a cheerable, if reluctant, hero. The camaraderie, such as it was, worked, and visceral me-first survival gave way more often to self-sacrifice.

So, what's not to like? The fundamental premise that a classic got remade? Doesn't wash. These are two different movies with the same name and similar premises but very different attitudes. (Better special effects didn't hurt, either, although this new version was oddly less disturbing sans zombies munching on dismembered body parts.) Speedy zombies (except for the "twitchers")? No problem; hey, they're hungry and, as always, persistent. My attention was held for the better part of two hours; the story was interesting; the outcome ambivalent; the characters arisen to the task at hand, becoming coldly rational to the divisions between life and death and zombiedom; the music weirdly appropriate; the black humor welcome respite. No, Dawn of the Dead isn't Citizen Kane nor is it a sacrilegious assault on the horror genre. It's solid filmmaking that's entertaining and thought-provoking. Otherwise, I suspect Romero would never have put his imprimatur on the remake.
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At last, someone's got it right...
Senor-Spielbergo29 March 2004
If you haven't guessed already, I can't sing the praises of this movie enough - at last, a zombie flick that is two very important things.

1) Not a B-Movie; 2) An absolutely cracking A-Movie.

Having just got back from the cinema still amazed with the quality of this film I don't know where to begin. The good acting, the spot on cast, the refreshingly unbearable scares, the "Paul Verhovenesque" completely unnecessary but compellingly disgusting gore, the almost uniquely un-Hollywood ending... It's all there.

What is even more amazing about this movie is that it's [re]creators have also managed to tap into what will surely be the unanimous expectations of the target audience. There are no unwanted and unnecessary messages of family values, cheese, cuddles, and love will conquer all, which is fabulous because it leaves far more room for classic lines like, "Tell him to shoot Burt Reynolds" and then the ketchup-tastic head shot that follows. Now you have to admit, that line really can't fit perfectly in to many movies but in the ever consistent mood of Dawn of the Dead, it's right at home.

Ving Rhames is easily the second best thing in the movie (second only to the fast moving, constantly hungry and occasionally limbless zombies) once he actually starts speaking, and it is welcoming that Sarah Polley's Ana is as composed as she is subtle which is great for the audience because for a change the lead female character is not screaming every 30 seconds because, oh my god, someone is trying to bite me whilst drooling oodles of blood and saliva all over my nice white t-shirt. again!

Her character is only clichéd and therefore flawed once throughout the campaign. As the genius of the group, she is the first to work out that when people are bitten they become very ugly, very quickly and develop a penchant for biting others. However she is still inexplicably opposed to killing the aforementioned soon-to-be cannibals. I don't know about you but whilst she was still talking through the morale dilemma of killing would-be zombies before they turned, I'd already be choosing which sponge I was going to use to clean my shoes after removing my trusty shot gun from a red blob that used to be somebody's face. Maybe that's just me though. us Sagittarians are very impulsive.

Since we all have limited attention spans and I'm mindful of not giving too much away about what happens in the move, I'll wrap up by saying that those of you out there who enjoyed this film's original version and have gone on to enjoy films like Starship Troopers, Robocop, Resident Evil etc., then this is definitely the film for you. And even if the above are not representatives of your particular favourite genre, consider this. I went to the cinema with four friends tonight, one of whom stated before paying his money for the ticket, `I don't know why I'm bothering, I hate [rubbish] like this'. He was the one laughing the loudest and coming closest to vomiting throughout the film, and all of us came out saying, `how many Oscars has this been nominated for'..? Sarcastically - yes, but if it was nominated, it'd get my vote. The only thing that could have made it better was Steven Segal instead of Burt Reynolds but you can't have everything.
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As good as the original, with exciting new directions and room for a sequel!
Brandt Sponseller18 February 2005
Shortly after a number of strange cases begin to appear at the hospital where Ana (Sarah Polley) works, a bizarre zombie "epidemic" hits the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area full force. Sarah escapes her immediate threats and meets a number of other humans who decide to seek shelter inside a large shopping mall. As they learn that the zombie outbreak is much more widespread than anyone could have imagined, their chances of survival grow increasingly dim.

I know an awful lot of genre fans rail against remakes, but like the update of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), this version of Dawn of the Dead is so good that we should instead be clamoring for more.

Writer James Gunn and director Zack Snyder knew that they had to come into the remake with both barrels blasting. Hardly five minutes into the film we're already into hardcore, high tension, gore-filled horror material. In lesser films, our introduction to full-fledged zombie activity would have been dream material as a kind of teaser. Gunn and Snyder dispense with such weak-willed tactics and immediately launch into Armageddon. We quickly move to a wide shot of explosions, brutal car crashes and other mayhem.

We do finally get a breather while we're learning our cast of characters at the mall in nicely written scenes that bring out personality and depth to the relatively large cast, but horror fanatics need not fret that the film will evolve into a drama--tension and gore are never far removed from the film.

Gunn and Snyder earn credit for both paying homage to their source material and taking off into other interesting directions. This remake is just as intense and titillating as Romeo's original, but with a different spin.

The cast is excellent, the cinematography and editing exciting and innovative, and the makeup and "creature" effects are top notch.

Even though I've seen greater quantities, the DVD for Dawn of the Dead also has some of the best extras I've seen on a disc in terms of quality. You get two excellent short films that effectively extend the feature. In one, a new character from the remake, Andy (Bruce Bohne), who runs a gun shop across the street from the mall, gives us a 15-minute video diary of his last 15 days. It's similar in some ways to the feel of The Blair Witch Project (1999), but for my money, it's much better than that film. In the other, we get a 30-minute condensation of the news broadcasts following the outbreak of the zombie "epidemic". This also easily beats any mock horror documentary (such as The Last Broadcast (1998)) with its hands tied behind its back. Make sure you at least rent the DVD to check out these extras.
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In a world of bad remakes, this wasn't bad.
Bryan19 October 2004
I went into this movie completely excited. And I wasn't even really disappointed either. The acting was very good, and I actually loved how they didn't follow the exact storyline. They took the basics of the original Dawn of the Dead and made it more contemporary. I knew they wouldn't be filming the movie at Monroeville Mall (the mall just 15 minutes outside of Pittsburgh where they filmed the original) but it was still awesome none the less.

The script worked rather well, and the movie flowed nicely also. Granted I wasn't a huge fan of the fast moving zombies, but I suppose I can let that go because truthfully, maybe before rigor mortis sets in, you'd be able to move quickly, who knows? But I do know that I was on the edge of my seat through many parts of the movie, and you start to really care about the characters in the movie. I am anxiously waiting for 1 week to pass so that I can get my copy of Dawn. I already have it pre purchased.

8/10 rating.

The movie missed a perfect 10 for the simple fact that zombies SHOULD NOT run that fast.
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Get the unrated director's cut!!!
jguz5822 November 2004
I reviewed this film back in March 2004, and said, "Wow! I just got home from seeing dotd-2004 and can't wait to add it to my collection." Well, I just added it - the Unrated Director's Cut in widescreen edition. After watching it this weekend, I just had to add a footnote about this version of the film.


Comments from other reviewers have sometimes made reference to a lack of character development in the film. The UDC version restores this kind of content, and is one way that the UDC version improves on the theatrical release. I see better character development in this version of dotd-2004 then in the (1978) original version of Dawn.

The other improvement the UDC version makes is to restore some really excellent gore shots. If you're into that thing, of course. And if you're not - well of course you're into it - that's why you're checking out this film!
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"Attention Shoppers! The mall is now closing forever.."
filmbuff-3629 March 2004
How will mankind behave in the end times? Will we turn into raving lunatics and attack one another? Will we try to slavishly hold onto some fabric of our society? Will we kick back and accept what is happening?

`Dawn of the Dead' in some ways tries to answer that question. The movie, a remake of George Romero's classic 1978 sequel to `Night of the Living Dead,' throws a group of people together while society crumbles around them and allows the viewer to watch as humans seek to survive an onslaught of the undead.

The movie opens with the unimaginable happening. Hordes of zombies have overtaken Milwaukee and numerous survivors are both fighting off the monsters and trying to escape the city. One such group includes Ana (Sarah Polley), a nurse who is running scared after losing her husband, Kenneth (Ving Rhames), a tough-as-nails cop, Michael (Jake Weber), who tries to be two-steps ahead of any dangerous situation, and Andre (Mekhi Phifer), whose trying to care of his pregnant wife.

Seeking shelter from the waves of zombie attacks, the group decides to head toward a local mall and hole up there until help arrives. Once inside they join with security guards and use the shopping center as a refuge from the undead while trying to piece together what's left of their lives.

The plot is pretty straightforward, and relies mostly on cliché themes to move the story along. So as a rule, most films such as this tend to be predictable and quite tepid. Luckily, `Dawn of the Dead' has strong personalities to fall back on, making it thankfully every bit a character-driven drama as it is a horror-action piece.

As Ana, Polley convincingly plays a waif turned survivor with just the right amount of emoting. She is strong and vulnerable at the same moment, trying to remain reasonable in unreasonable times. Weber also fits this bill as Michael, a man with a shady past full of regret who tries to fill others with hope while remaining a stark realistic.

Rhames' performance clearly commands the most attention. As Kenneth, he becomes the group's de facto leader and top man of action. He keeps the clearest head when trouble is afoot and leads the group out of one scrape after another. Rhames gives the character a silent strength that provides the film with a much needed human edge.

First time director Zack Snyder moves the film along briskly and effectively, keeping the action scenes tight and the dramatic scenes quiet. There is no heavy-handed sermonizing here that tends to infiltrate most big-budget horror movies -- Snyder wisely lets the images speak for themselves.

The horror itself is shocking and grabs your attention, which is a plus considering most of the recent crop of thrillers. The fact that it is happening to sympathetic characters that we care about is another feather in the movie's cap.

All to often most horror movies are just excuses for numerous poorly developed characters to be killed in awful ways for the enjoyment of the audience. As far as recent zombie movies go, `Dawn of the Dead' thankfully remains closer to `28 Days Later' than `House of the Dead.'

However, despite all the movie's strengths, it still pales in comparison to the original. Romero's `Dawn of the Dead' took the premise of people trapped in mall and used it to make some pointed social commentary about consumerism. The first '`Dawn' had human characters selfishly hoarding material goods for themselves, using the mall not only as a refuge from zombies but also as their own personal palace that provides them with more items than they could ever need.

It's to the detriment of the new film that it never takes the concept to this level. Here, the story seems to take place in a mall because it's a cool place for a horror movie, not because it can draw out anything interesting in the characters themselves. Also, in the original the zombies wanted inside not only to eat the humans but also because they are drawn to the shopping center since is was an important place to them when they were alive.

It's a shame that this time around viewers won't get the chance to see zombies wandering around JC Penney or stumbling up and down escalators, the joke being humans amble about aimlessly themselves like the undead at the mall.

`Dawn of the Dead' is a very bloody and terrifying film but it lacks the superior gory effects from the 1978 movie. That should not stop the squeamish from twitching in their seats due to the horrific content onscreen.

Good acting and smart thinking elevates the proceedings among most other horror offerings, but compared to Romero's original it lacks the observations necessary to make it a classic. The first film remains an intelligent critique on human actions during the apocalypse, while this is just a suspense drama that is dressed to kill.

8 out of 10 stars. Not as good as Romero's original, but still one heck of a shot in the arm to cure the memory from most modern horror misfires.
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Action rather than horror, but worthy remake
B. Caesar Cubillos20 March 2004
As a HUGE fan of the original Dawn of the Dead I was very skeptical of this remake. I wasn't expecting an Academy Award winning blockbuster or anything, but I did want to see the remake do the original justice. I was impressed with the filming more than anything. This is an action movie rather than horror. The outdoor scenes are filmed with a grainy, hand-held camera which gave the audience the feeling of being disoriented much the same way the characters would have felt. The movie was not made in the MTV-generation style that the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake was. Dawn of the Dead stuck to the same mythology of the first without giving it a complete reimagining. I could imagine the two movies co-existing, but in different parts of the world.

One of the key differences that I did like was the idea of the zombies running. This made them come across as more menacing rather than being the slow clunkers that are seen in the original trilogy. The idea of being able to walk right past them was abandoned. I also feel that the movie did a good job of showing how quickly people would turn on one another and watch out for themselves only.

One of my favorite "realisms" of the movie is how the characters are too attached to their loved ones to shot them when they become zombies. I'm certain that many of us would react in the same manner if something like this were to actually happen (yes, I know it's impossible). Also, it was interesting to have so many people make it to the mall instead of only four as in the original. Of course some of these characters fit the generic stereotype of a movie such as this, but I'm not surprised considering modern audiences would need such characters to maintain their interest. This was a movie made for film viewers, not film makers. We have the strong and silent male hero, the quick-thinking blond heroine, the official dumb jerk, the official slut, the young and naive girl who loses everything and needs the group's protection, the angry challenger for group leadership who has a change of heart and becomes heroic, the young trainee who disagrees with the angry challenger yet follows due to a sense of duty, and the stupid follower who gets his comeuppence.

One aspect that was missing from this remake was the original movie's social commentary on the commercialism of people. Ken Foree's character of Peter mentioned this in the original whereas Ving Rhames' Kenneth was more of a silent action hero never having much to say. This was another reason that I saw this as a simple action movie -- though I will say that Rhames has more acting ability than Governor Schwarzenegger, Sly, Seagal and Van Damme combined. Rhames also LOOKS like an action hero rather than today's prettyboy "action heroes" such as Tom Cruise, Ben Affleck, Nicolas Cage and Keanu Reeves -- who all look like they couldn't fight their way out of a cooking class for senior citizens.

All in all this movie was not better than the original and won't be nominated for any Academy Awards, but if you're looking for entertainment and can stomach the blood it's worth checking out. I can't wait to buy it on DVD someday.
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This sets the bar for all remakes...BEST ZOMBIE FILM EVER!
Thresher9514 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The first scene lets you know what kinda film you're about to see. From there, it takes you on a wild thrill ride filled with awesome gore, good character developments, explosive action and amazing visuals!

The zombies in this film are more terrorizing than Jason, Freddy and Michael COMBINED! Although they're still...well...RETARDED, (they are ZOMBIES after all) the fact that they SPRINT towards their victims in order to eat them alive is enough to haunt your dreams.

If you took the time to actually READ this particular comment and you HAVEN'T seen the film...GO AND RENT THE MOVIE NOW! Not tomorrow or next week...RIGHT NOW!
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A great pace covers the weaknesses in plotting
bob the moo10 April 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Returning from a busy day in the hospital, Ana spends time with her husband when a neighbours daughter comes into the house and attacks her husband. He dies before returning to life and attacking Ana. She runs and escapes in her car, driving through a neighbourhood rife with violence and fires. After crashing her car, she hooks up with a group of armed survivors who take refuge in a mall. The group settle in and fortify their position as an army of the undead gather outside.

Before I start my review, let me just say that this will be biased as I am always easily won over by zombie movies. The fact that they just keep coming (fast or slow), lack character and only want to kill really just freaks me out. So I tend to get easily scared by the genre (even if `enjoy' is perhaps not the right word) and be easily more negligent towards their faults. Despite telling myself that I wouldn't bother with this film as it would scare me, I went for it anyway in a fit of `confront your fears' type of stupidity! The film starts with a creepy opening and pretty much manages to keep the pace up for the whole film. It, like the zombies, moves fast and brutally throughout and is very, very tense.

Others have complained about the lack of gore - however I found the graphic exploding heads to do that more than enough for my tastes! Better than gore is the atmosphere. The use of news footage is not original but it succeeds (along with the aerial view of the town) in creating the impression of a world turning to sh*t. I don't know about you but this scares me and the film did it well. The speed of the zombie attacks makes for a thrilling ride and it did make me very tense - Snyder managed to make the whole film a threat (especially for a first time director) and I honestly have a very stiff neck a day after seeing this simply because my body was tensed up for the whole film!

The pace of the film also serves to cover the real problems in content and plot. Unlike the original there is no satirical swipe on consumerism - the fact that the zombies are just wandering aimlessly around the mall like they used to in life is pretty much ignored here - but times are very different now I guess. The plot itself also has quite a few stupid moments where the characters act in a way you know they wouldn't in real life. For example people go on suicide missions for little real reasons and you can tell that the script is just doing it to create more action. However, when you are into it, these things don't really seem to matter. The film may be a little silly when you think about it but it does have a good ending - downbeat and realistic (or at least as realistic as it can be!) and left me with no hope of a happy ending - in this regard it is everything that `28 Days Later..' is not.

The cast is good even if the script places their characters secondary to the action. Polley is used to slightly more substantial roles but still does well here. Rhames is lumbered with a religious background that is never explained, but he is a great presence throughout. Weber is the standout role however. His character is a slightly less cartoon version of Evil Dead's Ash. He is the unwilling hero but yet he seems to accept all the obstacles he comes across. He also manages to be one of the group that the audience cares about - most of them are fodder and we know it! Phifer is a good actor but seemed too `gangster' to really be driven to this degree by his family. The rest of the support cast are mostly just there to get eaten but they do OK.

Overall this is not a great film - but it is an effective one. As a film it lacks subtext, comment and plot logic. However as a thriller it is fast paced, gripping and tense with a satisfyingly bleak conclusion. Snyder does a good job as a first timer and creates an atmosphere that is gripping even if it lacks originality. Like I said, I don't deal with zombie movies very well and am easily scared but I reckon that this should satisfy many a Saturday night thrill-seeking crowd even if it does nothing for your brain apart from it's risk getting eaten.
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Intesnesly Great
tequila10114 December 2010
The Dawn of the Dead remake would have to be one of my favorite remakes because it is very chaotic, I love the carnage and the film's premises lie on disturbance.

At many moments I found the film very, very disturbing. Zack Synder had really put a lot of effort into the remake. his remake also starts off on some happy little slope and then when we see the girl who's a zombie, then we all know that it's gonna get better from there.

I like how Zack keeps the film's plot on the exact same story line where there are many survivors trapped in a Mall and that there are Zombies trying to get in. It was great to see that the elements of this great adaptation can be compared to George A. Romero's classic so well.

I also like how there were more survivors this time round and it was excellent to see that we could all see what each survivor was going through. Some where determined to get out of this mess, some where stubborn and one was just an idiot. But it was great to have a variety of smart and dumb-witted characters.

There were also many sad moments in this film that really left me disturbed and I'm not going to spoil it.

Overall it doesn't fall short off of Romero's Classic Dawn of the Dead, having a chaotic situation, fast zombies, different varieties of characteristics & tones of weapons. It is my second favorite Remake and anyone who hasn't seen it yet, see it... 8/10
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One of the best Zombie movies I've seen...
Eduard Burlacu14 February 2005
...and I've seen quite a few. This movie is a must for all those enjoy seeing horror-zombie movies with a twist, but not containing excessive amounts of blood and gore, like BrainDead had. Unlike others, I don't think this movie should compare to Resident Evil because zombies here don't act like those ones, oh no, not at all. You surely will need to see the movie to understand, but I was simply delighted. Most important, this movie contains no pseudo-scientific bullsh!t regarding how do the zombies appear, skips through unnecessary preparation, the soundtrack is absolutely beautiful and the end, oh, the end is... what can I say? Great-great-great! Overall, I very much enjoyed seeing this and I guess it's a movie you can see more than once. I, personally, have seen it 4 times in 2 days and I always found something new to look at.
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So much better than expected ***********Spoilers**********
Jose Smirnoff19 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
***********Spoilers Within********** When I first hear they were remaking Dawn Of The Dead, I imagined it would turn out much like any number of movies that should have never been remade. I swore up and down never to see it, and when it actually got better than average reviews, and was #1 at the box office for a few weeks, I simply thought "well, there must not be anything else better playing".

Usually when I watch a crappy movie, I turn to someone in the room and say "wow, I could have made a better movie than that" (yeah, I'm THAT guy). However, after a friend of mine brought Dawn Of The Dead over, I said "If I was going to make this movie, that's exactly how I would have done it".

The remake of DOTD is probably one of the best horror movies I have seen. It has enough blood and guts to satisfy the gore freaks, but not too much to offend the casual viewer. I also really liked the (intentional) humor throughout the film. What really surprised me is that unlike most horror movies, you really get to know and care about the characters (most of them at least). You cheer when some of them die and frown when others stay alive.

In most movies, the characters are quite two dimensional, and you can generally pick out from the first five minutes which ones will live and which ones will die. With this movie, villains become heroes and heroes become villains. I wanted so badly for the character of CJ to die, but by the end of the movie, I was sad to see him go.

All in all, this was a wonderful remake, and I hope remakes of other movies are just as good as this one.
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These things don't win Oscars, but they're darn entertaining!!
supah7919 September 2005
Zombies take control of small-town America, only for the inhabitants to realize that it's a global plague. They take refuge in a mall and try to fight off the undead.

Remake of Romero's classic is very well executed by first-timer Snyder. The characters and the script are entertaining and the action's good. Director Snyder finds a good balance between action, horror and comedy.

I thoroughly enjoyed this flick. It isn't more than it tries to be: fun, popcorn entertainment.

Be sure to watch the end credits!! Perhaps this is the only weak spot in the film.
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Brilliant Zombie horror
MattyGibbs30 August 2014
Dawn of the Dead is one of the best Zombie films ever made. It combines a decent storyline, good acting, nice cinematography, good dialogue, good soundtrack and is genuinely scary.

From it's brilliant realised and scary opening, Dawn of the Dead holds you by the throat and doesn't let go. The action is pretty much non stop and at times it becomes unbearably tense. As well as a huge amount of gory scenes to keep bloodhounds satisfied it throws in a number of human interest sub plots as the survivors come to terms with their predicament. This stops this being just another one dimensional gore-fest.

What elevates it above most of is that it has characters are not only interesting but totally believable. All the cast do a good job in particular Michael Kelly as the power crazy CJ and Sarah Polley, Jake Webber and Ving Rhames as the main survivors.

This is an incredibly entertaining film packed full of memorable scenes. Most films are let down by their ending but this one is highly satisfactory if a little bleak. Anyone that likes Zombie movies is almost certain to like it. In my opinion it is pretty much the perfect Zombie movie. Highly recommended.
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a brilliant remake that is a lot better than it has any right to be
daworldismine23 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
i am a huge fan of the original 'dawn of the dead' so i wasen't mega happy when they announced the remake, it took me a while to watch it, and when i did i loved it, what a brilliant zombie movie, that wasn't exactly the same as the original, but was always faithful, backed by a strong cast, some amazing gore, plus a cameo by tom savini, and you have one of the best zombie movies of the past decade, it's not quite as good as romero's own 'land of the dead' released not long after, it is however a fine companion to it. the only version i have seen is the directors cut. so i don't really know the differences between the two, bottom line is this is a must see movie, don't judge it as just some remake, because this is a brilliant zombie movie period
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Best Zombie Flick Ever!
elhombremagnifico12 December 2008
I have to admit, the Zombie genre isn't my favourite, but Dawn of the Dead (2004) is a brilliant film for so many different reasons. In my view, it's the best zombie movie ever made.

The actors are likable, which makes you empathetic to their cause. You want them to succeed, you feel sorrow when things go bad. My main complaint with so many other zombie movies is I couldn't care less about the actors. Also, in Dawn of the Dead, the quality of acting is good, much better than most other films of it's type.

The film has plenty of action, but it doesn't detract from being a horror film. There's plenty of gore and quite frankly, the zombies scare the bejesus out of me (and I don't scare easily). I think one think I particularly like about this film is that the zombies are really nasty, fast, aggressive, in-your-face intimidating monsters who would really scare you in real life. I've just never been that keen with slow moving, sinister, but gormless, zombies. The zombies in Dawn of the Dead are truly terrifying.

The pace of the film is excellent too. It moves quickly from scene to scene but at a good pace and covers many different things which keeps the film as a whole interesting.

I really can't recommend this film enough. I really love it, and that's coming from a guy who's never been really in to zombie movies.

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In my opinion not as good as the '78 original, nowhere near.
Paul Andrews29 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Dawn of the Dead starts just like any other ordinary day for nurse Ana (Sarah Polley) as she goes home after another long shift, she & her husband Luis (Justin Louis) go to bed & have a good nights sleep. The next morning Luis is woken by Vivian (Hannah Lochner), their next door neighbours young girl, who proceeds to bite Luis on the neck. Ana manages to push Vivian out of the room & locks the door, Luis dies in front of her but suddenly comes back to life & attacks Ana in the same frenzied way Vivian attacked him. Ana climbs out of the bathroom window & sees complete pandemonium outside as the dead are returning to life & attacking the living, Ana gets into her car & speeds off but ends up crashing. She is found by a cop named Kenneth (Ving Rhames) who in turn find a guy named Michael (Jake Weber) along with Andre (Mekhi Phifer) & his pregnant wife Luda (Inna Korobkina) who all decide to head to the local shopping mall to find safety. They break in & watch in horror as the streets outside become overrun by flesh eating zombies while the TV news broadcasts offer little hope, if any...

Directed by first timer Zack Snyder Dawn of the Dead was apparently described as a 'reimagining' of George A. Romero's utterly brilliant Dawn of the Dead (1978) which itself was a sequel to his groundbreaking Night of the Living Dead (1968) which already has already been remade so I guess Dawn of the Dead was next in line & I personally think the result is less than inspiring. There are two versions available, the theatrical cut & a longer director's cut, unfortunately I watched the shorter theatrical version because that's the one they showed on TV even though I have the director's cut on DVD but just hadn't got round to watching it before it aired on TV, I wish I had because I don't really feel like watching it again despite the promise of some extra gore but I suppose that's irrelevant... The script by James Gunn is actually quite different from the original except the title & the fact that some of it is set in a shopping mall, I think that almost everything that made the '78 original so brilliant is lost or diluted here. The start of the film is completely different & in my opinion the best part of this 'reimagining' as it's rather effective & well built up, once the film gets to the mall not that much actually happens to be honest as straight away it's empty with only two zombies inside, there's no running around shooting zombies, there's no hiding out, there's no locking or blocking the doors off, there's no raid by the bikers & it all seems rather stale, static & predictable. Then there's the character's, there's just too many of them & there's no real connection between them unlike the original which had a tight group of four close friends this time around they are a bunch of unlikeable underdeveloped clichés like the self serving yuppie, the 'strong' female, the big cop, the middle class hero & the antagonistic redneck. I was also disappointed with the lack of social satire, unlike Romero's original which had meaning this is a shallow film where the mall is used as a place to hide & nothing more. When Dawn of the Dead '04 does do something different like the zombie baby or the fact the zombies actually run it goes nowhere & they seem like afterthoughts just for the hell of it. Having said that Dawn of the Dead '04 is far from a bad film, it moves along at nice pace, it has some decent if unspectacular set-pieces & action scenes, I must admit I really liked the ending with the video taped footage during the closing credits, it's very sleek & it certainly passes 100 odd minutes entertainingly enough but it had an almost impossible task to better the original which it most definitely doesn't in any way.

Director Snyder does OK & there's plenty of homages to the original including cameo's from Ken Foree, Scott Reiniger & the ever watchable Tom Savini along with the BP trucks from the original turning up as does the WGON traffic helicopter also from the original. Gore wise I thought Dawn of the Dead '04 was very disappointing, there's no big gore scenes unlike the original, there's nothing in here to rival the screwdriver in the ear or the zombie having the top of his head sliced off by helicopter blades or zombies having machetes shoved into their faces or the gruesome cannibalistic scenes at the end. All this new version has to offer are better looking zombies, some gunshot wounds to the head, a spike through a zombies head, a poker through a zombies eye & after that I'm actually struggling, there's nothing here that memorable that will have people talking unlike Dawn of the Dead '78.

With a supposed budget of about $28,000,000 Dawn of the Dead '04 obviously is better made than the original with that big budget Hollywood polish about it, it's well made & has good special effects. Apparently the budget for Dawn of the Dead '04 was 'significantly slashed' by Universal after the critical & commercial failure of House of the Dead (2003). The acting is forgettable, I must admit I disliked most of the character's in this.

Dawn of the Dead is a perfectly watchable & entertaining horror film that is certainly worth a watch but I think it pales into insignificance when compared to Dawn of the Dead '78, it seems to have a good reputation but it just didn't for much for me. However if you like shallow story lines, poor character's & no stand out set-pieces then you too might like it. Good but not brilliant & overall pretty disappointing.
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Absolutely STUNNING remake!
Shawn Watson29 April 2004
I really knew nothing of Dawn of the Dead 2004 until I saw the preview. No trailers, no TV spots, no hype. So I was quite surprised at how breathtaking it is, moving at a neck-breaking pace and not letting up on the gut-wrenching tension for the entire running time. The critics and majority of the audience agreed, something damn rare for a remake.

While many remakes are easy, pointless cash-ins on previous success and a quick way to mooch a few dollars off fans, DOTD 2004 is something quite different. Both Dawn of the Dead movies are great for their own reasons. And while most will judge this a remake only and do nothing but compare it with its 1978 counterpart, it's really best to watch them a two separate stories happening at the same time.

Young Nurse Ana (Sarah Polley) is living the suburban dream: perfect house, loving husband, well-manicured cul-de-sac. All that is about to change. As she drives home after a long shift dozens of clues surrounding the brewing trouble literally fall on deaf ears as Ana is too tired to notice. Overnight, her life is changed forever (as anyone's life can) when a lethal virus, that causes the dead to come back to life, spreads with alarming speed all over the world. Utterly, completely, hopelessly outnumbered, Ana flees her perfect life and hooks up with a bunch of other survivors who take refuge in a huge shopping mall.

I will not pretend that the satire of the original is something of my own discovery (as so many, many other reviewers have) and complain that it's pretty much absent in the remake because DOTD 2004 has so many other levels to it.

First of all, the zombies (the word is never mentioned in the film) can be seen as the perfect society. There is no conflict between them, no hate, no prejudice, and no grudges. They exist only to create more, as humans invariably do. The survivors barricaded in the shopping mall are rebels. They are refusing to conform and fight for their life, for their right to be different. And with this right to be different comes conflict and turmoil. The barricade between inside the mall and outside the mall is the line between the western world and the third world. Indulgent, ignorant and wasteful on one side and starving masses grabbing for whatever food they can on the other.

DOTD 2004 offers a wider range of characters (more zombie nosh!) boarded up in the mall: cop, nurse, hoodlum, survivalist old lady, pregnant woman, security guards, gay guy, arrogant playboy millionaire, pretty girl and average Joe. It could be argued that they're a far more PC assortment of characters than the original (DOTD 1978 had 2 SWAT cops and 2 reporters-the very people we rely on to protect and inform us in times of crises-chickening out of their utterly futile duties to fend for themselves) but it ends up with character arcs and a sense of sticking together to survive, despite differences, that the original didn't have.

The cast is well chosen and all act their parts brilliantly. Horror films have severely declined in recent years with most being turned into 20-something teen soap-opera trash. In DOTD 2004 you'll see a realistic group of people dealing enormous pressure with sense and reason. However, there is one particular moment in which a complete idiot character jeopardises the security for everyone else for the dumbest and stupidest of reasons. It really bugs me that this device is in the film and it damages DOTD 2004 and prevents it from having any everlasting integrity.

There are a few references to the original (I'd hate to call them 'in-jokes' as that term would be kind of inappropriate for a film of this nature) that fans will have fun picking up on. But mostly the characters and situations featured in DOTD 2004 are completely new. The most interesting of which is the gun store owner across the street from the mall who communicates with Ving Rhames with his whiteboard and marker pen.

Writer James Gunn (Scooby Doo, Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed) unleashes an entirely new monster this time. Many people have strongly complained at the 'fast zombie' type seen in this movie and (the absolutely awful) 28 Days Later. But they are far, far, FAR more terrifying than the slow, sluggish, rigger-mortis stricken corpses in the original. They'd be on you, ripping you're throat out before you can say 'crikey!' Yes, the 'turning times' vary wildly in the movie, but it all depends on the bite and how bad it is.

I had never heard of Zack Snyder before seeing this movie, but for a debut feature he sure has impressed me. Every scene in this film is shot and lit from an identifiable point of view. This could be YOUR shopping mall in YOUR town. Not some fantasy happening far away. It's these kind of qualities that make DOTD 2004 stay with you longer than Darkness Falls or Scream 86. I'm glad that Hollywood can still make horror films as bloody and relentless as this, though there were several cuts made to the theatrical version.

This new Directors Cut DVD runs 110 minutes and features more gore, bridging scenes, more character development, more violence and the odd restored shot here and there. It really is the definitive cut of the film to have and I urge you to buy this version.

Filmed in Super-35 the DVD presents the film in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby/DTS 5.1 sound. A truckload of extras include Commentary by director Zack Snyder and Producer Eric Newman, The Lost Tape: Andy's Terrifying Last Days Revealed, Special Bulletin: We Interrupt This Program!-complete news coverage of the attacks, deleted scenes, Raising the Dead and Attack of the Living Dead featurettes and Splitting Headaches: Anatomy of Exploding Heads.
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was shaking my head through the entire film.
T85020 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I LOVE horror films. And zombie films have a place in my heart, especially George Romero's zombie films. And when I heard of a remake of Dawn of Dead with Romero having a hand in it, I was excited. Finally a decent budget and modern day effects along with Romero's touch. Unfortinately I felt betrayed and very unsatisfied after the first 10 minutes of the movie. And sadly the rest of the movie followed suit. The only good thing if any in this film was thankfully the gore wasn't restrained, But that's the only decent thing about this film.

What makes this film so bad? Well it follows the trend of movie 'remakes' which in reality are a totally different movie and using an existing title to get fans to watch. And unfortunately this was no different. The director simply had no respect for the original masterpiece of it's older namesake. It lacked everything that made the original so memorable and replaced them with cheap thrills, action sequences and annoying characters. I understand that it was Mr.Snyder's first time, But jeez he already had a base to go on and plenty of reference material. The Mall seemed to be there in name only, and the zombies where laughable rather scary.

There's not enough space and time for me to explain every reason why this film was beyond disappointing. So I'll just summarize instead.

First 'And foremost' the zombies. They ran, they climbed, they hissed and they made threatening faces at you. Wrong, very wrong and shouldn't even be called zombies. Romero understood what made the zombies so scary in the original 'Dead' movies. They were believable, and that's what made them scary. Because he realistically portrayed what a reanimated dead corpse would do. Their muscles where too rotted and stiff to move fast or do complicated movement, if at any. They were too stupid to speak or make facial threats at you. And they were relentless and numerous. They simply wouldn't stop and they were simply so many it was overwhelming. These aspects are what made Romero's zombies so scary, the 'remake' is completely devoid of all of that.

Secondly was the overwhelming stupidity of all the characters, It's expect that a few of the characters in films such as these are supposed to be stupid. But in this case they all are and none of them give you a sense of loss, (infact quite the opposite) when they are finally dispatched. The only character I felt sorry for was the lone gun-shop owner, But his demise was all but predictable and on the whole, irrelevant. The rest of cast, you feel rather gratified when they meet their doom. In this film, The characters and the zombies have something in common, their IQ.

Films like 28 days later and Return of the Living Dead I enjoyed, even though they feature what I described as (the first part at least) as Dawn 'remake''s failings. But neither of these films boasts or pretends to be on the same level of Romero's work. 28 Days Later is not a Zombie film per se, as the people weren't undead but diseased, so them running and screaming wasn't as far fetched. And 'Return' was more comedic and satirical in nature as well as it took a totally different path from Romero's 'Dead' movies, Dan O'Bannon made it abundantly clear that his movie had nothing to do with Romero's work or story lines. The 'Remake' however boasts about remaking a classic that carries the same name, this is where it becomes inexcusable.

If at all possible, watch Romero's 1979 version of Dawn of the Dead. It's a classic, And avoid the 'remake' travesty of a film.
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Yawn of the Dud.
digimatic29 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I just paused the movie to write this, that's how lame it is, rent the original, it's a classic, this is not a good movie, and as far as contemporary zombies movies go, this one has a bit of catching up to do.

Hey! let's send the dog with some food, ooops, that didn't work so well, hey, lets use the sewer connection to rescue the dumb ass chick who drove over to get the dog, yah! great idea, duh, so why didn't they just use the friggin sewer in the first place if it was that easy all along? Just one of the dumb ass things that happens in this film, it's lame, it's tame, it's a down right bloody shame they didn't do the original justice.
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OK remake if you're in the mood for a brainless action picture -- but little else.
MovieAddict20165 September 2004
The 2004 Dawn of the Dead is sort of a poor man's version of the 1978 original by George A. Romero, which isn't to say it doesn't deliver the goods in terms of gore, but it has little going on upstairs. It's the equivalent of choosing Paycheck over Total Recall – both films are based on short stories by late sci-fi author Philip K. Dick, but only the latter of the two movies actually amounted to anything memorable and thought-provoking.

Then again, I'm in a minority when it comes to the first Dawn – although I liked it enough to purchase the DVD, I didn't love it, and felt a lot of it was silly and not very funny at all. Many critics call it an attack on consumer America (zombies flocking to the mall = us), and while I admire the message and the obvious passion behind Romero's project, I've always admired Night of the Living Dead (1968) – the first installment in the original 'Dead Trilogy' – the best, and think its allegories about racism are even more subtle than the consumer attack in Dead (which is about as blunt as being hit over the head with a hammer).

The remake of Dead boasts a better cast but a lot of the dialogue is just as stiff as its predecessor. Also, it often stoops down to the level of sheer stupidity – for instance, when one of the film's characters, stuck in a mall surrounded by zombies, decides to make a mad dash across a street (flooded with the undead) in order to rescue a trapped…dog? This makes those 'Don't go in the basement!' moments in other horror films look like brilliant ideas.

The zombies in this re-imagining of Romero's tale are faster than the slow-walking numbskulls in the original, which begs the question: If they can run as fast as a car, how come they can't manage to outrun humans carrying heavy weapons, and can't manage to figure out how to break into a mall, when all the humans did was throw a toilet seat through a window? And how come, if they're so strong, the scrawny female heroine can manage to fend one off and shoot it on the head? And yet Ving Rhames can't manage to win a fist-fight with one? Please.

IBrains are not required for this film. At all. For that reason it is a solid 'mindless action blockbuster' – but don't expect anything substantial. You could have the IQ of a zombie and still enjoy this.

Yes, I was entertained by this movie, and that's why I recommend it as a well-made action flick, but I don't feel the need to see it again anytime soon, whereas the inferiority of this version has just made me appreciate the Romero version even more.
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pretty good though not up to the original
Roland E. Zwick12 March 2005
"Dawn of the Dead" is a remake of the George Romero film from 1978, which was itself a sequel to his 1968 classic, "Night of the Living Dead." This new version, written by James Gunn and directed by Zack Snyder, follows the original storyline fairly closely, centering on a group of people who are holed up in a local shopping mall while flesh-eating zombies wreak havoc on the world outside.

The original, in addition to being a horror film, was also a playful little satire on the consumerism in modern society. This version shucks this dimension entirely in favor of a straight-ahead horror approach. It may seem impossible for someone to actually "dumb down" a horror film, but Gunn and Snyder have managed to do that here. For this reason, the most famous and imaginative images from the first film - that of the undead wandering through the mall, vacantly interacting with the clothing and other paraphernalia contained therein, just as they did in their previous lives - are nowhere to be found in this edition. The other major difference between this and the original is that the zombies themselves are no longer restricted to a lumbering pace but can actually outrun the people they are pursuing. Although, theoretically, this should increase their terror potential, it actually winds up diminishing it somewhat because it robs them of that otherworldly creepiness that made them so scary in the earlier movie.

Nevertheless, this remake turns out to be a fairly effective cannibal zombie movie even if it doesn't rise to the level of the original. There's a nice apocalyptic feel to much of the earlier portions of the film, and the screenplay allows for a reasonable bit of character development within the rather limited framework of the genre. There's even a very subtle homage to the great "Carnival of Souls," the far more gentle precursor to all these over-the-top zombie pictures, when a character describes himself as a church organist who sees his "calling" as "just a job." Although the film isn't really all that scary, "Dawn of the Dead" provides just enough tension and chills to make it worth seeing for any true horror film aficionado.
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"Updated" in more ways than one
guru_monk14 August 2005
George Romero's original "Dawn of the Dead" is a classic, hands down. It is a fine, thoughtful movie. The characters are carefully meshed out and developed over the course of the narrative, beyond that, Romero's dramatic decisions make sense, he only uses four main characters to propel his story. The remake, on the other hand (one can only hope that Romero made some money from this, which would be the only justification), is a stock 00s Hollywood product: utterly soulless and moronic from the first frame to the last. The characters are stereotypes and at times bizarre (armed security guards in a mall?), the action perfunctory and essentially pornographic in its lack of relation to the story itself. The screenwriter decides to toss in some smarmy, obnoxious characters straight out of a bad 1980s teen sex romp. Annoying, smart ass yuppie? Check. Hard ass rent a cop security guards/morons? Check. Useless characters who stand around for ten minutes acting surprised that the zombies that have been attacking them for the last few days are, in fact, attacking once again? Check. Characters are uniformly good shots (none of the tension in the first film from SWAT members vs. the macho but inexperienced helicopter pilot) able to adjust their aim and "shoot 'em in the head". In the first film the characters planned and executed schemes to the best of their abilities, in this one a bunch of idiots run around like headless chickens flailing about wildly from one ill conceived plan to another. Thank you again, Hollywood, for doing your part to spoil a movie for young movie goers who will now make no attempt to see the original, since this remake is so "totally awesome 'cause like a zombie like gets totally stabbed in the head". Its as if serious film goers have committed some grievous collective sin and are all being punished in some massive, communal private hell. At least Ken Foree, Scott Reiniger and Tom Savini made a few bucks appearing in it.
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When there'll be no more ideas in Hollywood, the remakes will walk the earth. This one shouldn't!
marcus_stokes200018 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
*Dawn Of The SPOILERS*

A group of people, including the why-didn't-she-die Ana (Sarah Polley), who is WASP to the DNA but has a Hispanic name (first WTF), the black burly cop Kenneth (Ving Rhames) who is a stereotype who could as well say 'I'm tired of these mother----ing zombies out of this mother----ing mall!', given that it's the same character, and a lot of other characters who you can't care for (except for Michael (Jake Weber)) are in a mall and attacked by zombies.

Who will survive? And the most important question: will anyone CARE? I really, REALLY don't understand what to make of this movie; it isn't scary, it isn't suspenseful, it has characters I don't give a damn whether they live or die (and in some cases, like Ana's, really hope to see them die), it has way too much gore and is riddled with clichés.

It's a movie to give to Joel, Mike and the 'bots.

What I'm happy of, is that while the original will always stand tall, this remake has already been forgotten after two years of it being out.

The only saving grace (and reason why I didn't sell my DVD) is the mock-newscast; I felt more for that newscaster than how I felt for the entire cast of this crap movie.

So, in short; there are good remakes, after all.

But this one is not.

Dawn Of The Dead (2004): 1/10.
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