Land of the Dead Movie Review
The fourth picture in Romero's "Dead" series,it takes place in a decimated world where a handful of rich elitists livein a self-contained, weakly defended luxury skyscraper and a lower classof humanity scrapes by in the streets behind protective walls and electricfences. But unbeknownst to all of them, the zombies in the wasteland outsidehave begun to think and organize.
This sounds like a fantastic -- and wholly original --concept that could take the genre to a scarier new level. But "Landof the Dead" fails to exploit the refreshing plot point any furtherthan is necessary to bring the undead through the city's pathetic ramparts,led by the moaning-groaning influence of a single zombie who has developeda primitive ability to reason.
The movie has nothing new to offer, although it is madea tad more watchable by something old -- Romero's simple, straightforwardcinematography that makes all the action (especially the mediocre scares)much clearer and eerily more immediate than the shake-shake, chop-chopstyle applied to most modern horror flicks. Its other great asset is thebody-decay makeup on the legions of walking corpses and the dead staresand lumbering gaits of some of the key zombie actors.
But these pluses don't count for much when the human performanceshave less charisma than those lead zombies. Bland Simon Baker from "TheRing Two" plays the hero, a vanilla altruistdetermined to save the city, and even good actors like John Leguizamo (asa black marketeer) and Dennis Hopper (as the greedy self-anointed kingpinof the skyscraper snobs) are hamstringed in flat, hackneyed roles of littleinterest.
The biggest problem with "Land of the Dead" maybe that Romero didn't put much thought into creating the world in whichit takes place, which allows for many obvious questions to arise. What'shappened to the government and why is there no organized effort to ridthe world of zombies? After all these years, why aren't the human enclavesat least better equipped to fight them off?
Many critics and fans who know Romero's penchant for socialmetaphor will give the film too much credit, reading into it politicaland class-struggle allusions. But there are no themes here that can't befound in any badly acted low-budget dystopic-future action movie.
The best thing I can say about "Land of the Dead"is that it's not aggressively stupid like the "ResidentEvil" movies,which represent the genre's big-budget bottom of the barrel. But for amodern zombie flick with real entertainment value, this picture doesn'thold a candle to two from last year: the "Dawnof the Dead" remake and "Shaunof the Dead," an ingenious spoof with realscares. And for a butt-kicking zombie movie with socio-political undercurrents,it pales in comparison to 2003's "28Days Later."
The most noteworthy part of this film was the use of UniversalPictures' 1930s logo in the opening credits for no apparent reason.