Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

27Jun/05Off

The Series Ends…

We finally saw Land of the Dead tonight. I say 'finally' like it opened any more than two days ago but in some senses this is a film that I've waited most of my adult life for. I'm not sure that my opinion has solidified quite yet. It's as heavy handed as you'd expect from George Romero but still breathtaking when compared with the embarrassing crap that he's lent his name to over the past decade or so. I'm just going to make a list as it's easier.

The good:

1. Big Daddy, the head zombie, is a great character. He might go a little overboard on emoting at times but generally he's used pretty well. I like that he is both scary as fuck and evokes sympathy at the same time. All of the lead zombies are great including the Butcher character played by the same fella that played Tucker in the Dawn of the Dead remake last year -- Yoon actually noticed that before I did. There also seems to be more balance in this film between the zombies with actual character and the faceless masses in the background.

2. The budget. Almost everything in the movie looks amazing and the zombie make up also looks great for the most part. There are a couple of apparent editing woopsies that made it into the final cut where zombies that should probably be on the periphery of a shot are in sharp focus. The grey faced hordes should have stayed with Dawn of the Dead.

3. Dennis Hopper. I fucking hate Dennis Hopper and he owns just enough screen time to make his character convincingly annoying. Actually, that's the case for most of the characters including the bigger names in the movie. I have to give Romero credit for consistency -- he's never leaned on star power for anything. It is interesting to see how he handles having the names and the money. Generally it's tasteful.

The kinda bad:

1. Asia Argento's character could've been much more interesting with a little extra work. She's some kind of junkie but one ride in the Thunderdome-mobile turns her around? Really?

2. The included answer to that age old question of whether someone can actually make a sentimental zombie movie that gives a nudge-wink to some kind of human/zombie "can't we all just get along?" vibe? Yes. It can and has been done. That is not a good thing. Do we expect "There's A Place For Us" to begin playing in the final scenes of the movie? Yes, god help us, yes. The fireworks almost cracked me up. I'm supposed to be laughing with Romero not at him.

3. The darkness. The beginning of the film has one of those comic book-like melt downs of greasy/gritty animation that is supposed to be an introduction of sorts for those unfamiliar with the Romero universe. It looks good and sets the tone. The problem is that the cartoonish darkness never quite recedes. Len Barnhart nails it in his review when he says that it looks like a Tim Burton film. I'm thinking Beetlejuice. It doesn't mar the movie really but some subtlety, any subtlety or movement in color would be wonderful.

All of the good and the bad said, it's a George Romero zombie movie. I expect the moon and no matter what the guy does I'm going to find fault with it. It's a great film and I'll probably grow to adore it and overlook all of its shortcomings once I can watch it in my living room a few dozen times.

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