Eye For Film >> Movies >> George A Romero's Land Of The Dead (2005) Film Review
We all know that George A Romero created the zombie genre. Excluding his own work, it's been used to great effect in some bone-chilling films, as well as the Resident Evil video games and the brilliant 2004 remake of Dawn Of The Dead. However, there are some unforgivable atrocities, such as Resident Evil: Apocalypse, 28 Days Later (yes, I know it's not strictly a zombie film) and the mind-bogglingly bad House Of The Dead, too. Land Of ]The Dead is far from great, but, at least, it is better than these films and returns some competence and skill to the genre.
Set in an implacable time and city, the survivors of a worldwide undead plague have made a new home for themselves in a "secured" city, where only the seriously well off and advantaged can live in a skyscraper called Fiddlers Green that preserves society as it once was.
Naturally, this society has its beggars, choosers, corrupt, wicked and indulgent citizens. The city is run by the evil Kaufman (Dennis Hopper, phoning it in) who cares, not for the people living the rough life outside of his zone, but only what they can do for him.
The zombies (actually becoming quite emotional and likeable) are slowly gaining intelligence and no longer up for just standing around. They want to go places and have what we have. But we just go about killing them to maintain our way of life and freedom. The whole film is a rather unsubtle allegory of living with terrorism and the West's oppression of the Middle East.
There's nothing remotely scary about it. No constant sense of dread, or the threat of losing one's humanity. Blood-splattered heads and brain mush are what come first. After a while, it desensitises and you don't really care who lives or dies, or even react to someone getting their spine pulled out. And what kind of idiot stands guard in a dark, obviously zombie infested area while wearing headphones that blare loud music? And what kind of idiot secures a city filled with lots of fleshy, tasty humans with a crappy wire mesh fence with less durability than Lego Duplo?
Simon Baker (Thomas Jane's long lost twin brother) is rather mundane in the lead. I like him and he has a good presence but he's got nowt to do or work with here apart from the usual "action hero" crap. His pal Charlie (Robert Joy), a horribly burned dunderhead, is the only good character in the whole film.
Lacking the raw edge of Night, the subliminal effect of the epic Dawn and the fun of Day, Land Of The Dead is too little (a mere 93 minutes) too late. There's nothing here we haven't seen already and despite all the technical efficiency it's shot and lit far too much like Resident Evil: Apocalypse. In all the slickness of a higher budget production, Romero has lost his hard-hitting nerve and given us a tepid shoot-em-up that is certainly not worth the 20-year wait.
The cameo from Tom Savini is cool, though.Reviewed on: 19 Aug 2005
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