Film Review: Land of the Dead (2005)

Written and directed by George A. Romero, and starring Simon Baker, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento, Robert Joy, and Eugene Clark.

"In a near future, the zombies are all around the world, and the human society is restructured and adapted for the new reality. In a protected city ruled by the powerful Kaufman (Dennis Hopper), the upper class has the usual privileges living in a fancy well-supplied building, while the poor people live on the streets. Riley (Simon Baker) and Cholo (John Leguizamo) belong to a team that bring supplies (food, medicine etc.) to the city using a heavy truck called Dead Reckoning and designed by Riley. When Cholo is betrayed by Kaufman, he steals the Dead Reckoning and threatens Kaufman, who requests Riley to retrieve the vehicle, with the support of his friend Charlie (Robert Joy) and Slack (Asia Argento). But the dead are smarter and more organized under the leadership of Big Daddy (Eugene Clark)."

Having since viewed Day of the Dead (1985) again after so long, I have to say that it gave me a different perspective and newfound appreciation for Land of the Dead. Land marks exactly twenty years since Romero has touch his Dead series. Now, one could view George Romero's Land of the Dead as a mirror for America's war in Iraq, because it certainly seems that way. As is his niche, Land is rooted deep in social commentary on his outlook of our times. You also have to wonder if he respects mankind at all, as each of his Dead movies grow darker and darker in nature. Romero, opting for the first time to use digital effects, created his first big-budget film for the horror-loving masses. I didn't find the film's score (by Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek) quite as engaging this time around compared to the last two efforts. But horror legend Tom Savini, who did make-up on Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead, is seen once again making a cameo as the biker leader zombie in Dawn of the Dead. So there's a plus. Also, the film co-stars Asia Argento, "the daughter of noted Italian horror filmmaker Dario Argento, who was the co-producer and co-composer of one of the previous entries in George Romero's zombie series, Dawn of the Dead." Dario Argento has given us some fantastic horror but he also gave us one hell of a hottie for a daughter. Yeah. I just wrote that.
You can also spot Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright (of Shaun of the Dead fame) in the film as photo-booth zombies in the carnival, and on the DVD cover. I thought that was a nice touch, putting Romero above other directors' disdain for mockery, however well-intentioned. Unfortunately, gone is all of the great dialog George used to write. In its place is clich├ęd, monotonous easy-speak that makes you wonder if the zombies are any more intelligent (trust me, I see the irony). I miss the long-winded monologues, but that's just me. And I'm still not completely sold on the idea of the undead in decay learning to use weapons and engage in problem-solving courses of action, but the end did tie it up nicely. I personally found more subliminal meaning in the event following the subversive attacks than I did in the rest of the movie as a whole. So I can say that Romero had a plan. I'm just worried that he was focused more on the goal itself than the road to his destination.

One major plot hole is Cholo's desire for money, leading to a major turning point in the movie, when Cholo holds the city ransom with the armored truck, Dead Reckoning. What use would millions of dollars have in a post-apocalyptic world where towns are completely void of life? Even Kaufman packs bags of money as he plans to abandon the city. Rabid fans have all tried to give their own explanations online, but they're really all just reaching, because no reason could ever explain something so ignorant. But it's really a small matter in the end. Overall, the move makes for a decent action flick, and less horror, and even though I consider it below Romero's average, it's still leagues better than most zombie movies out there today. Critics found the film with positive ratings, and even though it's Romero's highest grossing movie to date, fans' feelings on the movie seem to be half and half. But did anyone else notice the bit of irony in using music from the first Resident Evil movie in a Romero trailer? One more Romero review left (Diary of the Dead), and then I get to take a little break from his work. For now.

Best quote: "How many times have I told you, Riley? Stop banging chicks with more problems than you."


viagra prescription said...

i love the Gothic girl in this movie !! she is so sexy ! seriously, I have a crush!

cheap cialis said...

Thanks mate... just dropped by. Will look for BIKE STN when we get to Seattle. Still in Buenos Airies.