Land of the Dead Review
Written by: Steve Lewis
I still think George is a genious. This is my third time watching the film from 2 theatrical viewings and finally on the unrated DVD. I have not lost respect for George just because some ungrateful punks thinks this movie is a stinker compared to the rest. No, it's nothing like that. It has the social community aspects integrated within his film like all the others, has the impressive dialogue that unifies the film brilliantly, and enough gore to choke on.
It's Riley last night working for Mr. Kaufman and the Fiddlers Green high society of greed and power. In trying to get out of town, he is pulled right back in when Cholo, his second in command, decides to steal the Dead Reckoning in spite of Kaufman's answer to Cholo's request to stay in his building. Now Riley and his friends, Charlie and Slack must do battle on two fronts; Cholo and his gang on the verge of making rubble of Fiddler's Green and the unrentless zombies wandering about always hungry for more flesh.
I really want to stress the society implements George intergrates into his films. Night dealt with the movements of the time such as the women's movement and with the integration movements so we had a black hero which was uncommon in that time. Dawn came with people going to the mall. This made a gag on the fashion that we humans like to go to the mall because that's where we waste most of our time. Then Day came along and it showed us the problems we have with the military. How we can not trust them and how we don't get along with them. Now Land shows us the slums and the high society where money and power means everything yet it's worthless in a ruined world full of the living dead. George makes little hints that reflects on the ongoing war of today against terrorism and Iraq. Such lines as "Im going to pull Jihad on his ass" or "We don't negotiate with Terrorist" poke fun at the war instead of making it a too serious of a notion. Plus the social uprising I didn't notice till I watched it a third time. Big Daddy, lead zombie, just being a gas station attendant in the past life had the brains! Who would have thought! And it's him that helms an uprising to Fiddlers Green and along the way teaching his other dead heads the little things.
The effects of Greg Nicotero were outstanding and well comparable to Savini's work. Being a long time fan of Romero's work and having worked with him before on Day, Nicotero gets the chance to work on Land of the Dead and delivers 110%. The zombies absolutely were detailed to the very crease of their bodies. With the older zombies having a overly slender look and milky white eyes we can establish that these zombies have been dead for quite awhile. The more recent deceased has the blueist tint with red on the sides. I'm glad to see animatronics in a modern day horror film. Crap like Boogeyman really disappointments me because the monster is all CGI. Though only in a few places in Land where CGI was touched on, I really think it was done tastefully. The only scene I really had a problem with was the preacher zombie and his head flinging technique to take a bite out of the bull fighter, Manolete. The facial features on the face and the frenzy biting was really too cartoonish but that seemed to be the only disliking as far as CGI goes. The unrated editions featured a ton of more than I had imagined! I thought it would have shown two or three scenes of oridinary boring cut material but I was dead wrong. Mouse's getting ripped to shreds scene, the aristocrat who hangs himself and then comes back only to take a chunk out of his son, and the scene where a zombie rips a guys skin over his head from his mouth really had me excited, almost beyond nostalgic.
The main characters were really mysterious but what main characters are revealed in any Romero dead movie? None that I can recall. I found we knew alot more about Riley and Charlie than we did anyone else. We know Riley had a little brother who was bit and he had to put a bullet in his head. We know that Charlie was in a fire and Riley saved him. Everyone else's background is a myth. Slack reveals nothing as she takes us in circles around her life, same with Cholo. I wanted to know more about this characters plus Pillsbury, Pretty Boy, and Foxy. Motown and Manotele I didn't care for and I'm glad their butts got wasted. We also really don't know how Kaufman obtained the building and were he got his riches from. We know that he randomly kills peasants and sends Cholo out to take out "the trash." Interesting concept in almost the fact that Kaufman portreys a Saddam Huesan (sp?). Torture and murder, plus the hooking? See, I'm still critically thinking about it while typing and this just now occured to me. If I had to pick one character in film who I enjoyed the most, it would have been Charlie. Robert Joy's performance was outstanding. We really feel sorry for Charlie from his not so self-confident statements which he repetively repeats. I'm dumb just look at me, look at me I could use a drink and etc... Though he might be down on himself, he brings himself to be quite useful as an expert with a Carbine Rifle instead an Automatic rifle which simplifies him as simple but definately effective.
The ending seems to be the most controversial in the sense that people are indifferent whether they like it or not. Some say it's cheesy and some say it fits perfectly for another film. We'll from sources I've read, George plans to make two more sequels and though that's not in stone yet it still leaves the film open for more. I thought it compared similar to Dawn's ending but I could be critized on that opinion as well. The ending works for me because we finally see an understanding between the two groups; or better yet Big Daddy and the Dead Reckoning crew.
The DVD is very nice with more extra features than you could have ever asked for. Commentary by: Director George Romero, Producer Peter Grunwald and Editor Michael DohertyUnknown Format, Undead Again: The Making of Land of the Dead, A Day with the Living Dead, Bringing the Dead to Life, The Remaining Bits, When Shaun Met George, Scenes of Carnage, Zombie Effects: From Green Screen to Finished Scene, Bringing the Storyboards to Life, and Scream Tests: Zombie Casting Call are all included. The transfer though was slightly grainy unless it's my tv acting up. I swear I could see grain in the dark areas of the film and sometimes on faces and my TV isn't that big so it doesn't stretch.