3 out of 5
Before we get to the review I think it is necessary to point out that this is NOT a sequel to Dawn of the Dead. Ving Rhames does not reprise his role from Dawn of the Dead The director was aware of the confusion this might cause. Some dialogue pokes fun at the first film. That is about all they have to do with one another.
The US Military is called in to quarantine residents of a small Colorado. The local hospital is overflowing with patients. All of them appear to be infected with a flu like virus. Ving Rhames plays the military official in charge. For Cpl. Sarah Bowman (Mena Suvari) this is more than an assignment. It is her hometown. Concerned for her family Sarah takes Pvt. Crain with her to her mother’s home. Sarah’s mother is showing symptoms of the illness so Sarah and Crain take her to the emergency room. Unfortunately for them all the infected in the waiting room transform into zombies. The interesting thing is that they all transform at the same time. Where they all infected at the same time? What happened to an incubation period? Sarah, Pvt. Crain, and Pvt. Salazar locate a vehicle and head out of dodge. Too easy, right?
Sarah hears her brother, Trevor, on the radio and heads off to save him and his girlfriend, Nina. Along the way Pvt. Crain is bitten and becomes a zombie. In life he was a vegetarian so he does not want to eat humans. Add to that a crush on his superior, Sarah and we have our own zombie body guard. The group heads off to an old factory to try and hold off the horde. They are unaware that the factory is actually the very lab the virus was created in. Nothing like holing up at ground zero. Lots of zombies and flames later our final survivors ride off into the sunset. More than likely they ride into the next town that is infected and have to start all over.
Day of the Dead broke several zombie commandments.
1. Thou shalt not make the zombies smart.
Dead people with reanimated cells do not have a lot to think about. Zombies have basic needs. All they want is something to eat. If it is alive and moving, it is lunch. Basic needs only require basic abilities. Run, jump, grab, with the occasional groan. Problems solving is not allowed. The power that zombies possess is sheer numbers and the uncanny ability to smell you from far away. Problem solving is for the survivors. It is all they get if they cannot find weapons and fire power. When zombies start figuring things out, survivors can just throw in the towel.
2. Thou shalt not humanize the zombie.
Some one you know has been bitten. With all the infected running around it had to happen sooner or later. It doesn’t matter who it is. Once bitten you no longer classify as a person. Of course we cry and mourn for you but quickly remove your head from your shoulders. Retaining any semblance of who you were before is a zombie movie taboo. Pvt. Crane, I am talking to you!
3. Thou shalt not turn the zombies into gymnasts.
Back to the basic needs equals basic abilities commandments. They might be stronger or run faster than you, but hurtling over six foot objects like it was nothing is wrong. A zombie that can jump onto the ceiling and run across it upside down like a ninja hamster is in the wrong movie.
Another problem was how rushed the plot felt. That is a theme with movies these days. "Oh no we all have the flu! No wait, not the flu we're zombies! Yay, we're saved!" I do not think it even took a full day out of their schedules. When the credits rolled I actually said, “Well, that was quick. What are they whining about? The people in Dawn of the Dead were stuck in the mall forever and a day.”
A good thing about this movie is that they did try and give some explanation as to why the outbreak happened. It was not original or inspired but it was at least explained. If you remember we never got a how or why in Dawn of the Dead remake. Just a suggestion though, If you cannot think of something better than "military bio weapon whoopsie" skip it and leave me wondering.There was plenty of comic relief. I never got so scared that I needed relief. I love to laugh though so it was okay. Watch the alternate ending on the DVD to get another chuckle at Salazar.