Dawn Of The Dead: Unrated Director's Cut [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Universal Pictures
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (7th October 2008).
The Film

If you've read my reviews especially those in regards to remakes you'll know that I'm not a freverent supporter of them, however once in a while a remake comes along that actually defies expectations, Zack Snyder's "Dawn of the Dead" was one such film. I recall sitting in the theater thinking 'this better be good' before the film started, as I exited the theater, I had a nice big smile on my face. It's not easy to please die hard fans of the original, and I'm one such fan. "Dawn of the Dead" (1978) is among, if not the best, zombie film ever made. It's a masterpiece of the genre, so for many people including myself it's held fairly sacred. Luckily for us fanboys, director Snyder is just as much a fanboy as the viewers of his films. As a result did an admirable job in making this film and in doing so launched his career as comic-book-guy-extraordinaire having made "300" (2006) and also the Shangri-la of graphic novel adaptations "Watchmen" (2009).

"Dawn of the Dead" follows a series of survivors of a zombie outbreak, the survivors include a nurse Ana (Sarah Polley), a cop Kenneth (Ving Rhames) a trio of security guards and a some civilians that share an empty mall for refuge. As each day goes by the zombie hordes get larger and larger and their hopes for rescue diminish. They must find a way out to safety, take out some zombies and also rescue a gun shop owner who's across the street.

From the outset this remake is largely similar to the original, although it only just glosses over the government mistake that caused the zombies, and focuses more on the drama happening inside the mall with the characters grouped together. What we get a dissection of society concentrated in a confined area, the results are an entertaining, almost voyeuristic look at how people act and react during these times of crisis. This statement is probably more intelligent than the film leads you to believe, because at the end of the day it's an entertaining action-zombie-yarn with some very likeable and some unlikeable characters thrown into the mix.

What's great about this film is that there's a character here that anyone can relate to whether you're a good person or a douche bag, there's someone here for you. The mixtures helps create a series of really fun scenes that stand out, among them is the numerous interactions with Steve (Ty Burrell) doing his best Bruce Campbell impression and generally being funny in that sarcastic way. The Celebrity-look-a-like snipering was fun, and every time a zombie is killed makes for a great drinking game!

Speaking of zombies, Snyder updated the traditional slow-brain-eating zombies into vicious and fast moving monsters that make them feel all the more scarier and really threatening. The problem with zombies from older films is that you could probably outrun them easily, Snyder's zombies seem like they can catch you... easily! The make-up effects are also gruesome and very cool, realistic and creepy so the effects crew did a freaking good job here. Overall these zombies are truly horrific.

I must say that although I'm a huge fan of the original and I was partly against this remake at first, I was actually entertained by it and believe that it's actually a worthy remake. Snyder had a lot going against him but managed to pull a rabbit out the hat and deliver a truly decent horror flick with some horrific zombies to boot. Definitely give this one a spin.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 and delivered to fans on Blu-ray in high-definition 1080p 24/fps and has been mastered in VC-1 compression. This is the same image transfer used to create the previous HD-DVD edition. The image is nicely sharp, detailed and colors look good. There's a bit of grain and the bump to HD has somewhat magnified the inherent grain from the film source but it adds to the texture if the film and heightens the look of the picture. There's some noise amid the blacks, which is about the only thing I have to complain about. The film's color palette is accurately rendered here although some skin tones can lean towards the purple (check out people's lips in some shots). Otherwise this is a decent HD image that should please most people.

Audio

Three audio tracks are included in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 as well as DTS 5.1 tracks in both French and Spanish. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its DTS-HD track, and this is another good example of an aggressive and brilliant lossless track from Universal. The sound is ferocious especially all of the excellent action scenes (just check out the last act of the film for an incredible sound experience). Dialogue is clear and distortion free, ambient sound is well rendered and makes excellent use of the 5.1 sound space (you really do feel like you're in a mall for the majority of the film, with cheesy ambient music to fill the halls!). The film’s score is a combination of heavy metal and some scored moments and it works well together to provide a rock 'n' roll tone to the film.
Optional subtitles are included in English for the hearing impaired, French and Spanish.

Extras

Universal has released this film with an audio commentary and a U-control picture-in-picture commentary. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up is a feature-length audio commentary by director Zack Snyder and producer Eric Newman. Remaining mostly screen-specific this is a very enjoyable track to listen to as we get a general understanding of the making of the film, from Snyder's experience as a first time feature filmmaker. He takes time to explain his choices and also the aspects of the film he doesn't like, or what he would have done differently now that he's had the experience. The producer adds some interesting information here for fans but Snyder takes over the show for the most part. He's got a laid back but passionate attitude, which makes this such an enjoyable listen.

Next up is the Blu-ray exclusive U-Control features, which is in the form of a picture-in-picture commentary. This feature requires a profile 1.1 player. At this time this extras goes unreviewed as this reviewer currently has a profile 1.0 player only. The commentary basically recycles some of the featurettes from the previous DVD and HD-DVD release featuring: "The Lost Tape: Andy's Terrifying Last Days Revealed" which runs for 16 minutes 23 seconds, "Special Bulletin: We Interrupt This Program!" complete news coverage of the attacks which runs for 21 minutes 4 seconds, "Raising the Dead: turning actors into undead killers" which runs for 7 minutes 54 seconds, "Attack of the Living Dead" a look at the most memorable zombie kills which runs for 7 minutes 25 seconds and "Splitting Headaches: Anatomy of Exploding Heads" which runs for 5 minutes 37 seconds.

Overall

The Film: A Video: A- Audio: A+ Extras: C+ Overall: B+

 


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