Land of the Dead Review
Written by: The Dude
I HAVE SEEN IT!! "But Dude," you may ask, "Is it any good?" There's no right way to answer it. So, being as incredibly vague as I can, I will tell you why I absolutely enjoyed the living hell out of this movie, but still wanted more. I'll try to be as spoiler free for you folks out there, mainly because my buddy "The Big" hasn't seen it yet, and he threatened castration. (See? Moviesonline isn't the only group that threatens castration on me. And The Big is from Jersey. He'll really do it!!) Ok, onto the flick. Land of the Dead. It has the greatest opening shot, setting the tone right away. It tracks the zombies as they now roam, essentially as the dominating species on the planet. They're beginning to remember things.
One zombie (Known as "Big Daddy" in the credits) hears the bell at his gas station and instinctively comes to fill the tank. There's a lot of dark humor like this throughout the flick. Then the peaceful zombie town is overrun by "DEAD RECKONING," the RV from hell. It provides cover and safety for a group of survivors essentially looting the town for supplies to bring back to the big city. The city is protected by an army, an electrified fence, and rivers. It's lorded over by Dennis Hopper, who lives in "Franklin Greens" (I'm pretty sure that's what it was called, I was too into the flick and forgot to take notes.) Anyway, "Franklin Greens" is the massive sky scraper where the rich and powerful live. The rest of the working class schmoes live on the streets, and are generally forgotten about by those in the crystal tower. As always, Romero manages to throw in the social satire/commentary into his gore fest.
When Cholo, one of the scavengers (he's the one played by John Leguizamo) returns from the opening mission with the intention of finally getting an apartment in Franklin Greens, (With all the money he's saved from working hard) he is denied by Hopper. This sets the plot in mission. He steals Dead Reckoning, and threatens to destroy the city from afar. It's up to Riley, his commander, to stop him. Then the zombies come. That's all the story I'm gonna give you. Let's talk about the film itself. I'm just gonna say this: I want to turn my car into Dead Reckoning. I have a mini van, so it won't look that silly. In fact it'll turn it super bad-ass this way. I want heavy armor, and lots of machine guns and rockets. Make people think twice before they cut me off. Soccer-mom, my ass. EAT THIS!! Right. Movie. What did I think of it? In relation to the other Romero zombie flicks, I rank it right after Dawn, and before Night. (I bet you all that the next time I see it, I'll rank it highest). The reasoning is the acting.
The acting was always adequate in the previous films, with the grossest overacting belonging to Day. The four survivors in Dawn were good enough, but the story and the effects overshadow it. In Land, it's a whole new ball game. Hopper doesn't go over the top, which he easily could have given how evil his character is. (He's essentially a Bush-like leader, concerned with money, himself, then his rich and powerful friends). Leguizamo is a lot of fun, as the desperate man driven to his actions. Simon Baker plays Riley, basically our hero. He's adequate. He's a handsome actor, and he delivers his lines. He was good, but not exactly memorable, as I try to remember almost anything he said. It's gone. Oh wait, he plays the "I just want to get out of here" role. Now it's coming back. He was good, don;t get me wrong. And Asia Argento: this women is beautiful. She is much better here than in XXX.
She's not given all that much to do, but damn she looks good doing it. So why the ambiguous opening, Dude? Because i think I over-hyped the film in my mind. I heard Romero's making a new zombie movie flick, I thought this would be the zombie "Braveheart". An epic three hour plus flick of zombie fighting. Sadly, it was about 90 minutes long. I could have watched so much more. There could have been more gore. More satire. More of Dead Reckoning just decimating the landscape. More zombie evolution. Just more of everything. I get the feeling that Romero wants this too, but had to pare it down a bit, either to appease the studio or because the budget wouldn't allow. I also realize that man is the more dangerous threat (as is greed and illusion of power), but I felt that the whole stealing the Dead Reckoning storyline took away from good zombie flesh eating action. Hopper does make a good bad guy though, and he's nowhere near as over the top as the guy from Day of the Dead. I didn't feel cheated in any way at all, though.
The film was fast paced, and delivered plenty of scares. Seriously, I rarely jump, but I jumped like three or four times in this. Shock grabs mostly, but damn they freaked me out. Also, the images of a zombie army picking up shovels and axes and even rifles and attacking the city are chilling. Loved the overhead shots of the zombies in the streets. It's nice to see George given a budget, and he put it to good use. Here's hoping the movie's a hit, and they're gonna give him more money, to make the Braveheart zombie epic. So yes, I highly recommend this movie to all, not just fans of the series. It is in no way bad. It kicks major arse. I totally had a blast. (spotting "Shaun" was my favorite part, mainly because I didn't look at the MoviesOnline scoop that showed the picture.) It's got good acting, good story, and great zombie gore. And damn, that Dead Reckoning is one bad mofo. Rejoice, for the master IS truly back. Thank you George for another trip into your worlds. Now let's get cracking on the next ones! (I get story credit if you actually have the "Braveheart" esque zombie battle scenes.)