Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Jayne Eastwood, Matt Frewer
Directed by Zack Snyder
Distributed by Universal Home Video
Remakes. Most times they end up eating a copious amount of ass. However, there are those rare occasions when a young filmmaker will come along and do some justice to the history of the film he is putting his stamp on. Such is the case with Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead. When news broke about this flick getting the redux treatment, fans were on fire with anger — and rightly so. This was sacred ground, man. Still, droves of us went to see it, and the end result was way better than anyone could have expected.
Everyone knows the story by now: zombie outbreak, mall, violence, yadda yadda, so let’s not waste time going there. Instead let’s focus on why this version of Dawn, one that had every right to suck, ended up working.
The main reason for this minor miracle is that Snyder and company played it smart. Instead of trying to out-Romero Romero (and who could possibly do that?), they opted to bring their own take of what happened on the day of the outbreak. Essentially Snyder gave us more Dawn of the Dead with some skillfully placed homages along the way that offer a wonderful nod to the source material. Cameos are given to original Dawn alumni Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger, and Tom Savini; the WGON traffic copter makes an appearance; some of the trucks outside the mall are from the same company, B.P. Trucking, that loaned them to the production of Romero’s original film; and one of the stores in the mall was even named Gaylen Ross! The best part? None of these ins is ever slammed over your head or is even remotely distracting. They’re just there as part of the movie. That’s how you honor the past. Bravo.
Now then! On to the hi-def re-release info. We all know that the major selling point of Blu-ray technology is superior picture and sound quality. While the sound here is fantastic, the picture, while better than that which was found on the DVD, at times can be really, and I mean really, grainy and dusty. Pretty weird all things considered.
Another problem is that the only full special feature to make the cut from the original DVD release is the commentary track with producer Eric Newman and director Zack Snyder. There are, however, random bits from the original supplemental material that appear here as part of Universal’s U-Control Blu-ray option. U-Control features can be accessed pop-up video style at any time while the film is in progress. Once it’s activated, a small picture-in-picture graphic appears, and the viewer is treated to various enhancements or behind-the-scenes footage. That’s nice, but the deleted scenes and most of the featurettes are gone. The biggest travesty? Andy’s video diary has been omitted as well. Would it have been so hard to release these extras as they were? Unbelievable.
Whether or not to upgrade to the Blu-ray version with better sound and at times way better picture quality is a decision you’re going to have to make. All in all, despite the lack of hi-def anything, the original DVD is far superior to this, if only because of all the extra goodies we got. What we have here is one dropped ball that could easily have been caught. It’s a damned shame.
4 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5 each
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