Dawn of the Dead
- Director's Cut
Universal Studios Home Video
Date: October 26, 2004
Review posted: November 2, 2004
The survivors of a
worldwide plague that is producing the flesh-hungry undead take refuge
in a mega shopping mall. Thanks to
Despite being a remake, Dawn of the Dead manages to be original
on some levels. This update is a little more action-oriented than the
original, yet it offers both good-natured and somewhat sick humor
during moments; a little humor is good for stress relief and to
lighten the mood a bit. In terms of mood and style, first-time
director Zack Snyder does ad admirable job. The film is scary and very
well realized, that is, the cinematography and the special make-up
effects, as well some added CGI, look great. The first hour or so is
especially very good, and there isn't really a concern with pace or
running time, although the last twenty or so minutes go in a different
direction than I would've expected.
Dawn of the Dead is not just another horror-slash-zombie film. The
script shows a clear path in terms of the narrative and what the
characters must do to survive. Characterization is important for a
story like this, and screenwriter James Gunn, from an original
screenplay by George A. Romero, makes the characters realistic and
gives them some good dialogue. The actors playing the major characters
share good chemistry as the film progresses, they become involved in
interesting dialogue and react well to confrontations. Actors Sarah
Polley, who plays a nurse, Ving Rhames, who tries to keep the peace as
a police officer, and Jake Weber, who seems the most calm and
resourceful, stand out.
The director's cut of
the film runs approximately nine minutes longer than the version
screened in theaters. This expanded cut incorporates more gore and
zombies, but more importantly adds several character scenes, which
fleshes out the characters a bit more.
Universal presents Dawn of the Dead in 2.35:1 anamorphic
widescreen. Colors look very bright and absolutely clear. Detail and
sharpness are fine, and overall there are no issues to report. A solid
Universal presents Dawn of the Dead in English 5.1 Dolby
Digital Surround Sound. Dialogue is very clear and easy to understand,
while the sound effects are actively reinforced by the rear speakers.
The overall presentation of the music and sound effects makes this a
solid auditory experience.
The Dawn of the Dead Director’s Cut DVD features multiple
extras, but the added selling point is the addition of three
featurettes exclusive to this DVD edition (they are the last three
discussed in this review).
audio commentary by Zack Snyder and producer Eric Newman is
fairly good, it's informative here and there, sometimes a bit slow,
but overall an insightful track with stories from the production and
how things went on.
The deleted scenes for the film are actually pretty good. There
are about 6-7 scenes, and only two are not really that important to
the overall film. The others scenes consist more of the survivors
searching the mall for zombies, and more zombies appearing outside the
mall doors and scaring the people a bit more.
The Lost Tape: Andy’s Terrifying Last Days is kind of lame,
though it’s a nice addition to the whole experience of the movie.
However, this feature is a waste of time and was probably a waste of
film, or videotape. It is just plain boring, and is obviously staged.
And some things don’t add up. In the movie, Andy doesn’t turn into a
zombie until after the girl gets to his gun shop and bites him, but in
this feature he turns into one before she gets there. Oh, and Andy’s
last days aren't all that terrifying, whatever.
The Special Bulletin extra was pretty good. It is hosted by
Richard Biggs (RIP), from Baylon 5 fame, who plays the news
anchor in this broadcast. Another nice addition to the whole feel and
involvement to the film like ‘The Lost Tape,’ but this is actually
good. This feature has nothing to with the movie, it is what the
survivors in the mall would have seen on the news if they were
watching TV. The feature shows news-like clips, very real-looking and
convincing zombies taking over the streets of
Angeles and all over the world, such as
This featurette is also a bit long, which is nice because you feel
like this is really happening; as if this is the breaking news.
Raising the Dead is just like a behind-the-scenes look, but
more of a behind the make-up. All this feature shows is make-up
artists putting on makeup, masks, and wigs. It also has some
interviews and explanations of how they turn extras into zombies.
Structurally, it breaks down the stages of becoming a zombie: Stage 1
is still human, stage 2 adds decay and preliminary make-up, and stage
3 sees the zombies as really nasty looking creatures.
The Attack of the Living Dead extra focuses on the six most
memorable zombies in the film, which include the Chinese man with one
arm, the black janitor, the fat woman, Andre’s wife, and two others.
All this featurette does is show the stages the creators took to
create those zombies. They went into details with each zombie, showing
them in their original stage, and showing them being turned into
zombies and how they made them look so real, etc.
Finally the Splitting Headaches extra is nice. It focuses on
scenes where the zombies get their heads blown off, like when they
play the game of killing celebrity look-a-likes, the parking garage
scene, and basically scenes where the zombies get shot in the head;
heads explode, blood sprays, and so on.
director's cut of Dawn of the Dead works just as good as the
theatrical cut, although there are a few more character scenes. The
DVD offers very good video and audio quality, and the extras are
mostly good. If you're going to get this film on DVD, get the
Director's Cut in widescreen.
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