Saturday, October 28, 2006

Land of the Dead

wr. George Romero

A zombie movie that is less tense than Romero's other 'Dead' movies. At the start of the film, the survivors have reached an equilibrium with the zombies. They're not under immediate threat, and civilisation is being re-established - we've moved from Day of the Dead (where there was stability and protection for a small group) to Land where a city has been taken back from the zombies. At the same time, the zombies are also beginning to form a society.

I find it hard to talk about this film without referencing the three that preceded it. Land is a movie with less threat, and more fun & toys. The zombie carnage is kinda ... perfunctory. It feels like it's there because we expect the zombies to breach into civilisation when we watch a Romero zombie movie. Hell, I'm not sure what other story you can in the zombie genre other than the threat to & dissolution of a fragile civilisation. Even The Walking Dead plays with those beats.

The heroes in Land feel like they have Hollywood hero immunity; the threats to them aren't played for keeps. However, by the end of the film, I feel that they've lost their immunity & from here on, things are going to get rough for them. And this really does feel like the first in a trilogy - like these characters have just been set up & will go through hell in following films.

Land feels way more ... coherent and conventional that the first three. Which I like, because it's not repetitive. But not a lot happens, the story is actually mostly set up, with a little bit of Die Hard and a little bit of zombie carnage thrown in.

Because of the more Hollywood-style, I don't *care* as much about the characters as in previous Dead movies. I don't feel the deaths as much (maybe because there are more people dying?). But I do love the performances. All of them are grounded (even Dennis Hopper isn't playing it camp), they're wry, and just world-weary and shocked enough without being too downbeat. There's a lot of life and professionalism to these characters and I'd like to see more of them.
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