‘Dawn of the Dead (2004)’ Blu-ray Review
This is zombie week on Blu-ray with Universal releasing two films on the same day that were previously available in High Definition via HD DVD. When I first heard that there was going to be a remake of George A. Romero’s classic ‘Dawn of the Dead’, I cringed in total fear. As we know, remakes are either done right or they lack some of the components that made the original so great. ‘Dawn of the Dead’ is my favorite out of all 5 ‘Dead’ Romero films, so this one holds dear to my heart. How does Zack Snyder, director of the remake learn from the master and does he present us with a well done remake? This is the ‘Unrated Cut’ of ‘Dawn of the Dead’ on Blu-ray that adds additional footage to the film.
Snyder does something that not many other directors and scriptwriters follow with remakes, that is take what worked well with the original ‘Dawn of the Dead’ and infuse his own likeness. Taking this approach it really made the remake ‘Dawn of the Dead’ successful at the box office and a fairly good zombie film. Things start out differently for our characters than the original, where we are in a hospital setting with our main character Ana (Sarah Polley) finishing off her shift and heading home. Once Ana is home with her husband, this is when all hell breaks loose with a 7 year old zombie that finds her way into their home. It becomes a struggle for Ana to get out of the house alive, but as she drives away, the way the zombie infection occurs on her block is amazing to watch. Snyder even takes a page out of ‘Night of the Living Dead’ with the gas tanker running into the gas station, which was the news incident from the original ‘Night’. This was a very nice way to tie-in both films.
As Sarah is trying to get away, she crashes, and ends up meeting police officer Kenneth (Ving Rhames) with his shotgun in her face as she tries to get out of her car. He has a plan to head to the mall, but he is unsure about Ana. Ving Rhames was right for the part; he has that look about him, which makes him a badass. As they head towards the mall, they run into three survivors, Michael (Jake Weber), Andre (Mekhi Phifer), and his pregnant wife Luda (Inna Korobkina) who is also heading towards the mall as they are running from the zombies. Once at the mall, the five survivors run into mall security lead by CJ (Michael Kelly) who is a lunatic. To add to that, another set of survivors find themselves to the mall, which ends up turning into the survivors against CJ and his security for most of the film. Instead of three survivors vs. a motorcycle gang as they fend off the zombies, we have a group of survivors that are at odds with each other fending off the zombie invasion.
The zombies in Snyder’s version follow the trend started by ’28 Days’ where the zombies are energetic, rabid wolverines, and run like they are in a marathon. I wasn’t a fan of this new generation zombie as I prefer Romero’s zombie better, but the concept has grown on me. If I have one negative about this film, it really lacks that character development from the original. In the original, you grew to love and feel for the characters and when it was all said and done you would have wished a direct sequel was made of the film to find out what happened once they got away from the mall. I will give Snyder a pat on the back, for the ending to ‘Dawn’ as they get to the island with Disturbed’s ‘Down with the Sickness’ playing. The ending sent some chills down my spine because of the style and what happens next.
This is the second outing for ‘Dawn of the Dead’ on high definition as it was previously released on HD DVD. The print is presented on a 1080p/VC-1 transfer with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The same transfer is brought over from HD DVD and this is on a BD25. I found the colors to be vibrant and really pop which is good for a film like ‘Dawn of the Dead’. Since I have seen ‘Dawn of the Dead’ in theaters, DVD, and HD DVD numerous of times, there is grain throughout the film. The grain is intentional to the film, so there shouldn’t really be any complaints there. The Blu-ray receives a DTS-MA HD 5.1 mix, which is an upgrade over the HD DVD Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 audio mix. The DTS-HD really shines during the action sequences and shows how far audio can be taken with the right mix. At times it felt as if I was being chased by a horde of zombies from the mix as my rears were getting a good workout. The dialogue is very clear and crisp; the great part is that it is well balanced with the soundfield mix.
• Blu-ray Exclusive U-Control – cast and crew interviews, behind the scenes footage
• Feature Commentary with Director Zack Snyder and Producer Eric Newman
This remake of ‘Dawn of the Dead’ by Zack Snyder will not disappoint fans of Romero’s original and it is a great action/horror movie for new fans of the genre to really enjoy. I would highly recommend upgrading over the DVD and HD DVD versions due to the superior addition of DTS-MA HD. My biggest complaint, why did they have to deface the cover box with the “From The Director Of 300” logo?
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