April 30, 2006 -- Zombie movies have made a comeback in recent years with such updated installments as 28 Days Later and Land of the Dead and less elegant installments such as the “Resident Evil” series. This 2004 remake of the original “Dawn of the Dead” movie is solid with good production values, good acting and a compelling story. I can't really compare it to the original 1978 film, since I don't recall seeing it, but I have seen lots of other zombie movies, including George Romero's original, “Night of the Living Dead” and the English comedy Shaun of the Dead.
This film, like most others in this sub-genre, makes no attempt to explain why the dead have arisen to eat the flesh of the living, except to say that maybe Hell is overflowing. Unlike most zombie movies, however, the zombies in this installment are not slow, lurching creatures, but can run fast. That changes the dynamic slightly. After a big outbreak of zombies, a small band of survivors lock themselves into a shopping mall and wait for rescue, not knowing exactly what they are up against. Slowly, they learn that anyone who is bitten by a zombie soon becomes a zombie (sort of like vampire and werewolf bites). This means that even harmless-looking people are doomed if bitten. The survivors devise a plan to escape.
Much of the effectiveness of this movie is that it concentrates on the survivors, not on the zombies. The survivors behave in believable ways, ranging from panic to calm resolve. Led by the best-known actor in the troupe, Ving Rhames of the “Mission Impossible” movies, who plays Kenneth, a police officer, the actors do a fine job with the material. The dissension among the survivors is believable, and the characters aren't static, they even evolve over time. This is a notch above what you expect from a Zombie movie. It rates a B.
I saw this originally on DVD and it has some good extras, including a mini-movie called “The Lost Tapes” about Andy, the guy on the gun shop roof. There is another extra feature, “Special Report” about a TV news anchorman and various news reports about the zombies. Then there's the standard “making of” documentary called “Surviving the Dawn.” There are also deleted scenes and a director's commentary audio track.
Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.