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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Like all the other zombie geeks out there, I had extremely high hopes
for this, George A. Romero's return to the genre that made him famous;
a genre that, even if he didn't necessarily create, he managed to
distill into a unique formula that inspired countless imitations. A
recent "surge in the popularity of zombie movies" (meaning major
studios learned there's money to be made in these types of films and
started greenlighting them again) allowed Romero to secure the budget
for this fourth entry in his "Living Dead" series.
Dennis Hopper is the prerequisite "corporate greed" character who has exploited the remains of civilization; in ways that are never quite made clear, he has created a walled-in safe zone inside the perimeter of Pittsburgh (although it's never named, that's where it's supposed to be set). Even though there are no real banks anymore, money must have some value because some people are "poor", while a select few are "wealthy" and live in a fortified luxury building, an unsubtle reference to gated communities. The living who are fortunate enough to be inside the walled-off city spend their lives eating the crumbs of the rich. The real danger is leaving the city to gather much-needed supplies, a hazardous mission carried out by a special forces team using a specially designed armored vehicle lovingly nicknamed Dead Reckoning. John Leguizamo is part of the team and imagines that Hopper will one day let him move into the exclusive luxury building. Hopper refuses, so Leguizamo steals Dead Reckoning and threatens to blow up Hopper's building unless he is paid $5 million.
But there's even more trouble; the zombies are demonstrating signs of being sentient, at least enough to remember their past lives. A zombie referred to in the credits as "Big Daddy" begins to get indignant about the way the living people come and mow down his kind with machine guns, and using grunts and groans, he riles up the other zombies and leads them in a march on the gated city.
Simon Baker is also on Leguizamo's foraging team, and although the movie suggests he's a badass, he's bland as toast and clearly the good guy. We know this because he keeps a friend with him who has been disfigured in a fire and whom everyone else refers to as a "retard". Into the mix comes Asia Argento, who plays a tough, impossibly gorgeous hooker named Slack. Together they are roped into a mission to retrieve the on-the-run Leguizamo, which conveniently places them out of harm's way when the living dead march on the city.
I liked the way Romero showed the way life continued even after the zombie crisis. In a way, the inspiration for this seems to have been drawn from the stories featured in Skipp & Spector's "Book of the Dead" series, which featured short stories by various authors about the world both during and after the rise of the living dead as depicted in Romero's films. The Dead Reckoning truck was a good idea--finally someone in a zombie movie realized you need an armored vehicle to ensure your own safety, although nobody has learned yet that you should probably cover all exposed skin to avoid bites from the living dead.
On the down side, the motivation of the characters is muddled on all counts. Why does Leguizamo want money? Wouldn't money be worthless in a world made up of the living dead? And if money is worthless, how does Hopper maintain his power? After a living dead apocalypse, how could anybody become a waiter in a restaurant (as depicted briefly inside Hopper's luxury tower)? Do we feel sympathy for the zombies, or not? In all the other "Living Dead" movies, the zombies were a constant, claustrophobic threat. Here we're invited to side with them, and they mostly look silly. Even worse, "Land of the Dead" has absolutely zero atmosphere. The pacing is so rapid that there's barely enough time to think about what's happening, let alone allow any suspense to build. I wanted to see more of the world oustide the perimeter of the city. Instead, we only get a glimpse of one small town where the zombies lurk. You know when zombies are going to attack, so it's never a jolt, and I can't remember a single shock in this movie, or even a moment when I cringed. The inevitable invasion of the safe zone should have been scary, but was rather unspectacular due to the editing. The social commentary is heavy-handed and has been overstated. The gore in the movie is R-rated, and the effects aren't as good as Tom Savini's makeup FX in "Day of the Dead".
The other weird thing I noticed about this film is that it has "TV syndrome". At times it is shot and edited like an episode of "ER", as if it's got to get a big story over and done with in an hour's time slot. I don't remember one single conversation in the film that was not underscored by a vague "ominous music" score that was completely unmemorable and didn't belong there at all. None of the conversations seemed real, it was more like an episode of "Buffy the Zombie Slayer".
I didn't like "Land of the Dead" all that much. The remake of "Dawn of the Dead" was a lot more enjoyable; even though it was super-dumb, at least it had some good suspense in it, and some electric action sequences. "Land of the Dead" isn't scary at all, and winds up being very dull. I'm suspecting that since this movie was made for a major studio, Romero was working within certain limitations that affected the outcome of the film. "Land of the Dead" should have been better, and ultimately the anticipation of it was a lot more exciting than the film itself.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Most other comments seems to be infected by a classic case of -Let's
read a plethora of theories and commentaries into this as an
after-construction-kinda deal. It's easy to sum this movie up in one
sentence: A violent story about a group of people in search for their
This has been praised as a stand against class-society and apparently it should contain a vast amount on social commentary. Where? Name one action movie who hasn't got a rich villain and a poor hero or some misfit trying to set things right based on his unbreakable social pathos.
And some of the huge plot holes:
Well the monatery system in this movie can't be explained. Why does currency still work in a world where there a so few people, and plenty of goods to go around for everybody.
The gated community is just a silly, awfully depicted place, instead of dealing with the situation they sit around drinking champagne and buying designer clothes. (Is this the huge social comment?!?)
Why build a stupid land train when you can loot every tank regiment on Earth?
After the three first (Night, Dawn and Day) Land... seems to be a world of it's own. It seems to be so far away from anything else, depicted in the first three, it could be a pilot for a TV-series.
Many may complain about the one dimensioned actors but, be fair, how would ANY actor act in such a humourless, wafer thin story like this. The direction seems more to be inspired by army boot camp than any sort film-making. It follows the same concept over and over and over again: "Run-Shoot-Swear-Run-Shoot-Swear" And by God do not under any circumstances show any emotion except anger.
I was almost breastfed with zombie movies and for almost 20 years it's been a great inspirational source. It pains me to see this movie and I hate to admit that not even me, one of the greatest fans on the genre, can protect Romero from this failure.
Mr. Romero, get back to the drawing board, and better luck next time.
I still have hope!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Just got back from the "industry screening" of Land, with GAR in
attendance (5 rows ahead of me).
Not to give out any spoilers, because I won't...but this film rocked. Does it have a different feel than Night, Dawn, and Day? Of course it does...why? Because of the fact that it's 2005, and movie making has changed over the course of the years. And also, this wasn't an independent film in the same way the other three were.
BUT, what they got away with, gore-wise, was absolutely incredible. My buddy and I were laughing with glee through the entire flick at all of the violence. Let me put all doubts to rest: This IS a George A Romero zombie film. This is NOT a rip-off...it's the real deal. Head shots, decapitations, zombie biting people with the typical fleshy ripping...intestines...the works. I was SHOCKED at the amount of gore they managed to get into the film. I spoke with the Production Manager after wards, and he assured me that the gore in the film is NOTHING compared to what's going to be on the DVD. Oh, and on the way out, I got to shake GAR's hand and tell him that this is an incredible film. Honestly, it's this generation's "Dawn". (And yes, that means it's more fast paced etc etc, which some purists might be ticked off about). And when I say this is this generation's "Dawn", I mean THIS is the zombie movie people will remember years from now. It totally blows the other recently released zombie flicks (including the Dawn remake) out of the water.
The acting was excellent all around...and I mean all around. There were no bad performances. Even Dennis Hopper and John Leguizamo, who both were put down on the message board for being in the film, were amazing. Hell, even the zombies kicked ass.
Anyway, that's all I'll say. You guys will either love it or hate it. I loved it.
Final word: Watch for the priest zombie. You'll know what I mean when you see it...hilarious. And watch for the arm scene...a hand upheld in a foggy mist...you'll understand when you see that too. Also, watch for the hilarious departure of two of Dennis Hopper's assistants...his personal assistant and his butler. LOL funny.
I was able to catch an advance screening with friends last night, and
maybe it was just the mood we were in, but we had a blast. It took me a
few minutes to get the direction George was going with this one, but
once I did, it cranked on almost every cylinder.
The first thing to note is this is not a serious, somber, scare you out of your pants zombie movie. What it actually plays out as instead is a social commentary on class, politics, and stereo types, while having a good time doing it. Think more Evil Dead meets Mad Max meets Night of the Living Dead, and you'll get a clearer picture of the movie George has made here.
Yes, it is very violent, and yes, there are plenty of "feedings." Highly recommended for those whose take zombie movies as seriously as they should.
Land of the Dead - The 4th part of George A. Romero's zombie
quadrillogy. It's been decades since the dead began to walk the Earth,
and now they practically own it (except for Canada for some reason).
There is one last little mega-city that is surrounded by electric
fences, armed patrols and barbed wire on one side, and nothing but
water on all other four sides, because the dead supposedly don't like
water. Despite the fact that the surrounding lands are rife with
zombies, this metropolis is incredibly corrupt. All thanks to evil
bureaucrat Kaufman (Dennis Hooper, who I had a ball watching) who makes
all but a select few rich folks (who have never seen or fought a real
zombie) live in slums. There you can get your picture taken with
zombies, or watch zombie fights (they fight over animals and the
occasional human). There are a few mercenaries paid to make runs in a
giant tank truck for precious commodities in the outside world.
Now I like George and could thank him endlessly for starting the zombie franchise, but he has always favored gore just a little more over character development, and has always liked his zombies just a LOT more than his humans. Heck in this movie, the zombies are practically the good-guys! They're just like you and me, except they rip people's arms in two (and I do mean length-wise) and tear belly button rings out of people. They are actually pretty intelligent and moderately fast at walking. By far the biggest threats in Romero's movies (most notably "Big Daddy" (Eugene Clark). For the most part though, it works, and it's good gory fun. Except the character development thingy. While I don't begrudge Romero for having fun with his zombies, I wasn't too sympathetic to Riley (Simon Baker) or Slack (Asia Argento). Riley, like Romero it seems, is just tired of character development as he has Riley say "I'm fed up with back-stories". But Riley dear boy, that's how the audience grows to care about you. Slack almost kills several of her fellow team-mates and does not grow at all, but that's the script's fault. Both of these characters, however are played well for what the actors are given.
Surprisingly the secondary characters are far more endearing. Cholo (John Leguizamo) was not only believable as a merc, but I was quite sympathetic to him as he realized that he was a pon. "Pilsbury" (Pedro Miguel Arce) and Charlie (Robert Joy) are endearing and funny.
So the effects are good. The story is iffy. The acting is good. The character development is iffy. The ending is really lame. This gets an overall B
George Romero returns to the genre he had perfected with his "dead" trilogy (Night of, Dawn of, and Day of), with a fourth installment, LAND OF THE DEAD. Fans of the first three films will no doubt be lining up in droves to see this film regardless of what the critics say. Regardless, die hard zombie fans and critics alike should be pleasantly surprised. The sneak peak I saw had fans hooting and hollering and received a standing ovation at the end of the film. The film, while not perfect, is still a achievement in bringing a once dead genre back to life. And who better to do it than the master himself, George A ROmero. Land of the Dead, most closely resembles the dark comedy of Day of the Dead than the other two films, and manages to blend the classic elements of Dawn of the Dead with the modern expectations of films like 28 days Later. Romero fans will love it, and modern horror seekers should hopefully be exposed to a great time. Great special effects, plenty of gore, and great performances all around especially from John Legiozomo, Dennis Hopper, and Asia Argento. Do yourself a favor, and GO SEE THIS MOVIE on the big screen!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie was terrible! The storyline - can't use the word plot as
that would give it too much credit - was tedious! Some say it was a
great perspective on class? Are you kidding me!!! From the HORRIBLE
acting to the complete and utter Lack of dialog, characters changed
motives, desires and allegiances so quickly without any second
thoughts. Plus, a lot of scenes just plain didn't make Any Sense!
*SPOILER* I realize that the two troops were sent up to keep an eye on our main characters but why in the world did the big guy suddenly knock out that woman?!?! What was with that? The gratuitous female-on-female scene? What purpose did that serve? Only the one zombie guy seemed to be learning anything and leading the troops yet was able to avoid huge blasts from explosives while zombies around him exploded? These characters have such amazing aim at such strange points but then they can't kill this One Zombie? And everyone in the van just blindly follows Choro but then immediately switches alliances? And what was with the girl who was ready to nuke the entire city but then, when asked to fire on a bunch of zombies and half-eaten civilians all of a sudden she has a heart? Plus, even after Choro turned into a zombie he was able to carry out his revenge? Not only was he able to remember to kill that CEO guy but also he was able to find him that easily? And what was with the horribly, cheesy ending where they just want a place to live?!? Uh, hello, have we forgotten that THEY ARE DEAD!!!! Kinda the Premise of the movie!!!
Oh I just was SO disappointed - and I gotta say, I didn't have high expectations or anything, I just couldn't believe how bad it really was. My boyfriend and I looked at each other after the movie and were so angry - he had been particularly excited about this one and I thought the idea that the zombies would possibly be learning something well that was neat. OH SO SAD when a Great series like this jumps the shark!
I went in to this movie expecting the worst and couldn't have been more wrong. Romero did a good job keeping to what he does best- zombie and social commentary. The special effects and gore were really good and "Dead Reckoning" doesn't look as much like a DAWN OF THE DEAD (remake) parking shuttle, as it does in the trailers. I did feel that they introduced "Big Daddy" way to early in the film and overused him. I would have enjoyed the movie more if he was just another zombie. Cameo's by Simon Pegg, Tom Savini, and Edgar Wright were barely noticeable. I would have liked to see more "daytime" scenes but I don't think that is what Romero had in mind. Overall, it was a fun movie that had a few sudden scares and some good humor.
I saw this film at a preview screening here. I thought it was great fun and a return to what Romero does well - zombies. It does not pretend to be anything but what it is and that's why I think it's better than one of the earlier reviewers on this site did. I thought the characters were well drawn - I'd especially like to see Charlie's back story - and the set-up for a possible sequel (and a possible show-down between Riley and the Big Daddy zombie) intriguing. Dennis Hopper was a fairly clichéd villain but I always like seeing him on screen. The movie may be seen by some to have way too few shocks (I only jumped and clutched my companion a couple of times but then I may be jaded) and too many "merely amusing" moments. The audience I saw it with all seemed to enjoy it, applauding at the end.
I've just arrived from CineVegas at The Palms where Romero got a vanguard award. I've never seen a zombie movie, so I thought I'd check this one out. Anyway I'm a bit tired, but all I can say is WOW. This film rocked! The gore was awesome. There was some cringe-worthy stuff, one instance I remember is there's this chick with a belly button ring who gets attacked,and yeah... imagine what happens next. Also, this film was FUNNY! The audience just gobbled up all the violence and gore. As the previous poster mention Dennis Hopper was just excellent and the way he handled getting rid of one of his assistants was the funniest part in the movie. All in all, this movie exceeded my expectations and was money well spent.
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