Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Land of the Dead

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: Zombies have taken over the world, and the remaining human beings have formulated ways of dealing with them on a daily basis. Many have holed themselves up in a protected area of the city where the zombies are kept at bay. But for how long? These zombies have started to develop reasoning capabilities and are slowly figuring out how to get what they want without being destroyed.

Scariness factor: I don't think there was one moment in the movie where I found myself tense or scared for anyone. As I will discuss momentarily, this movie was way too seamless and slick, and it took away from the scary grittiness that it could've possibly had.

Gross-Out Factor: Fairly high, but in that zombie kind of way.

Complaints: The slickness of certain new movies is starting to take a toll on their scariness. Land of the Dead is one such movie. Not to say that a slick MTV-feel in a horror movie NECESSARILY means it will be bad--the remake of Dawn of the Dead is as slick as a lubed up jar of lotion in a pool of Jello (yes--worst simile ever) but it has a sense of humor about itself that makes this slickness a fun-filled success. Land of the Dead does not. It is too smooth and not gritty enough, especially for a zombie movie. The special fx are yawn-perfect. I never once squinched my eyes up out of disgust or squeamishness, and there's a lot of gore. But all of it was so slick that I kept being reminded that, yes, it was in fact a movie and not real. I also found the notion of zombies starting to acquire "emotions" (which is presumably what Romero was trying to imply when one zombie shot another zombie that was on fire, apparently to "put him out of his misery") to be a silly one--what's creepy about the idea of zombies is that they are emotionless automatons who function only to destroy and eat human flesh. If they start to acquire emotions, then really what distinguishes them from humans really (other than the whole cannibalism thang)? And finally, Romero has made some kick-ass zombie flicks: Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. Both are fun and interesting zombie flicks. And both are interesting reflections and commentaries on the social climates of the time. The end of Night of the Living Dead is a horrifying twist, one that offers up a shocking look at the racial climate of the '60's. And Dawn of the Dead offers an entertaining look at American consumerism. Land of the Dead seemed to want to veer into some kind of social commentary as well--little remarks on terrorism, the downfalls of capitalism, etc. etc. But unlike the other two movies, it tries too hard to make something out of nothing, falling flat instead.

High Points: I like zombie movies, so that sheer fact makes a zombie flick entertaining to me. But more specifically to this movie, the notion of a long-term zombie epidemic is a fun one. Romero came up with a clever twist on the over-used zombie motif with this idea--I mean, what WOULD our daily life become like if we were confronted with an apocalyptic land where sheer survival was at the foreground of daily existence, where we could be torn apart at any wrong move? Granted, his exploration of this idea is not a very interesting one--for example, why does everyone always dress like silly renegades in apocalyptic movies? I mean, if I were in a land of zombies, I don't think my first concern would be to track down leather jackets and gritty army boots... The movie itself does not do the idea behind it justice--it could've been much bleaker and much more thoughtful. But at least the idea was an interesting one.

Overall: Eh. I could take or leave this movie. There are many better zombie flicks though, so if you're in the mood for one, I'd say to check out Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead or even the Dawn of the Dead remake. If you've seen all those, then yeah, Land of the Dead is an ok, if humdrum, last resort.

Grade: C/C-



At 12:35 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

What, no mention of 'Day of the Dead'? (which was one of my favorites of the series)

At 1:50 PM, Blogger Lindy Loo said...

I've actually not seen it yet! I was gonna mention it, but then thought I'd better not since I haven't seen it to comment on it...

At 10:56 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

you should see it. it's cheesy, but the zombies are among the best.

At 10:42 AM, Blogger Lindy Loo said...

i shall order it from the library promptly after leaving you this response.

oh, and AT TO DEATH.

At 10:50 AM, Blogger Lindy Loo said...

Dammit. Well, nix that idea until I suck it up and buy another vcr--they only have it on video at my library. =P

At 6:42 AM, Blogger John said...

I agree with you on Land of the Dead,nothin' special.The leather jackets,and boots are getting corny,although I wanted to be a renegade at one time in my life.Could never get the leather Jacket right... Dennis Hopper in the movie was...hmm,interesting and strange.But overall,the movie could have been something better.

At 12:12 PM, Blogger The Retropolitan said...

I agree with your Land assessment. This movie has an awful lot of defenders, and although I liked it, it was too shiny. His other movies looked kind of 'sloppy' and ugly, which made them all the more real somehow. This one... well, at least there were zombies.

I liked Day of the Dead better, but I had to watch it about a dozen times before I really got into it. The opening for Day is pretty damned creepy.


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