The Sinister Horror Movie Review: Land of the Dead
As begun with the first movie in the series Night of the Living Dead there's a Zombie Apocalypse that has overtaken the world (at least the United States; it is NEVER mentioned in any of the movies that this is a world wide epidemic, but one would assume it is, else all those nasty countries with their Weapons of Mass Destruction would surely have found a way to take advantage of the downfall of our capitalist system.) and there's a walled in city named Fiddler's Green where the rich live in palatial skyscrapers and the not-so-well-off make do on the streets. Beyond these walls, the Dead wait for any chance of invading this new paradise and it finally comes in the form of a Zombie that is at least on an intelligence level with Bub from the last installment. Big Daddy, he's called, and something snaps inside him when a force comprised of merc's invade dead domain with a war machine called The Dead Reckoning to raid the stores outside the gates for supplies. Big D has a sort of rapport with the other dead and after becoming enraged with the invaders, leads his undead comrades in an assault on Fiddler's Green.
Meanwhile, Cholo (John Leguizamo) who has been secretly working for the city's big wig Kaufman (Dennis Hopper) doing his dirty work only to have his "boss" turn on him decides to steal The Dead Reckoning and hold Fiddlers Green for a ransom of 5 million dollars. Cholo's leader of the mercenaries, Riley (Simon Baker) along with the only good thing to come from Dario Argento, his daughter Asia, is sent by the despotic Kaufman to retrieve The Dead Reckoning and bring it back. Riley has plans of his own for the machine, and they aren't in Kaufman's best interest; couple that with a rampaging army of Zombies and you have all the ingredients for utter mayhem.
It was good to see another "Dead" film from the master of the genre, George Romero, once again, but in all fairness, this wasn't what we all hoped for. During this movie something seemed to be missing for me and I was scratching the brain to figure out just exactly what that was, then after about mid-way of the film I had it: Every single one of the characters had little to no characterization to them. When someone was offed you weren't thinking, "Why the fuck did they do that?! He/ she was my favorite character!" Hopper, though playing the type of character he portrays best looked as if he were just waiting around looking for someone to read him his next line. Leguizamo was the only one whose character was somewhat established, but not so anymore than some of the minor players in Romero's former entries into the Zombie film. Don't get me wrong, I liked the film, but I believe Land of the Dead suffered an overage of characters and so little development that I had very little sympathy for the resident's of Fiddlers Green's populace. In "Night," "Dawn" and "Day" there were at least a few of them you could connect and relate to, but not so in "Land." You know a film is in trouble when the standout character can't utter a single line of dialogue and the supposed lead makes illogical decisions and says stupid things. When you see this movie, nothing makes this last I've written more clear than the last few scenes when The Dead Reckoning has the Undead at a clear, decisive Checkmate.
Overall, there were some pretty fair gore effects, but nothing by the bucket full and a cool cameo by Tom Savini reprising his role as "Blades" but in another light, and Shaun of the Dead geniuses, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright as "Photo Booth Zombies."
An okay film and made better in some ways by the definite advance in special effects this time around. If you're looking for something that's comparable to the first three films, then I guess you'll have to wait to see if they let George do another, because this one just sort of falls flat. See it in matinee if you go to see it in the theater, because I just don't believe it's worth the full price of admission. I'll get it when it comes out, sure but much like Blade: Trinity or Alien 3, it's mainly to complete a collection. Not bad, but a disappointment when compared to G.A.R's first three films in the series and Zack Snyder's modern classic re-telling of Dawn of the Dead.
Rating: 3 (Just barely) out of 5 possible stars.
"I am Death. Vengeance is mine."-Ulrich, Black Death