Directed by Zack Snyder, starring Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer, Michael Kelly and Ty Burrell.
How do you improve on B-Movie perfection? That's the question fans kept asking when it was revealed that George A Romero's classic zombie film 'Dawn of the Dead' was to be remade/worked/envisioned. 26 years on, its mix of horror and action, guns and gore remains as exciting as ever with Romero's satirising of consumerism getting sharper by the Christmas. At best, then, a curiosity and at worst pointless, director Zack Snyder had his work cut out for his debut - especially when the 1990 version of Romero's 'Night of the Living Dead' wasn't a patch on the original.
The set-up is largely faithful to Romero's storyline. Civilisation has broken down, the dead walk the earth feasting on the living, and a group of survivors are hiding out in a shopping mall. This time, however, there are more of them. Whereas Romero's film had four protagonists (two SWAT team members, a helicopter pilot and his pregnant girlfriend), Snyder and scriptwriter James Gunn swell out the ranks to include a nurse (Polley), a cop (Rhames), a streetwise guy (Phifer), his pregnant girlfriend, an electronics salesman (Weber) and three security guards who reckon the mall is theirs. There are enough characters there to last the movie but Snyder loses the plot when they are joined by another group of survivors.
What was fascinating about Romero's film was that with only four characters in such a massive mall, the feeling of isolation and identification with the quartet kept on growing. Here, there's little depth and too many people to care about. This is a leaner, faster-paced movie but it fails to pull the maximum tension out of the storyline and dips seriously in the middle. Snyder does do many things right - especially the opening which shows civilisation breaking down to the tune of Johnny Cash's 'The Man Comes Around' - but this film needed more time (Romero's ran over 135 minutes) and imagination to really make the grade.
Fans should expect some good action sequences, neat cameos from the 1978 cast, 'souped-up' zombies a la '28 Days Later' and every possibility that a sequel is on the way. They can also look forward to going home and sticking on the original.