The plan is you drink a nice tall glass of shut the fuck up.– CJ
Yesterday I was having a chat with a friend of mine, Rich (you should buy his book). Somehow or other we got on the subject of Zack Snyder and Rich reminded me of the existence of Snyder’s 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead. Since I hadn’t seen it in some time, I decided to give it a re-watch for Day 14 of the Fright Festival.
Up front, I have to admit that I don’t enjoy this one as much as Romero’s original. I feel that the emphasis on action set-pieces comes at the cost of the characters, none of whom are particularly well developed, despite the best efforts of the cast. Everything in the film feels too crowded. One of the elements I enjoyed about the original was the silence and the emptiness that Romero evoked as his characters journey to the mall – it’s as if they’re the last living things in the world. Its something he uses to even greater effect in his follow-up, Day of the Dead, depicting a world turned into a tomb.
But in Snyder’s film, the world is anything but empty. In the background of every exterior shot, smoke boils towards the sky and gunfire crackles in the distance. Everywhere there is noise and motion, and the apocalypse is ongoing. Despite this, the film somehow lacks all sense of life – at times it feels like watching a cut scene from a video game. Characters quip rather than conversate and their decisions often seem to come out of left field, with little build-up. They are caricatures rather than flesh and blood, in service to a plot that alternates between meandering aimlessly and dashing forward.
Though it may sound as if I don’t care for the film, the truth is I don’t actively dislike it – instead, I am largely ambivalent. As a piece of media I find it so ephemeral, so lacking in substance, that I can watch it any number of times as I never retain anything about it. Its something to have on in the background while I’m doing something else.
There’s a sort of value in that, I suppose.