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June 26, 2005

Land of the Dead: Kinda Sucky, Says Dave

The sort of review that puts me off of a movie.

You know how some reviewers trash a movie, but in a way that makes you distrust them? Or else their criticisms are of the sort that you don't sweat?

This isn't one of those pans. The stuff he talks about makes me hesitant about seeing this, except maybe on DVD or Pay Per View.

Not happy about the central premise-- that zombies have begun to form a rudimentary intelligence, engaging in primitive communication and basic military strategy.

I didn't mind the "fast zombie" alteration to the basic zombie rules. But I'm afraid I must draw the line at semi-intelligent zombies.

Guilding the lily ruins it sometimes.

And the obligatory social commentary? Class is stratified between the haves and have-nots and gated communities are bad and the people who smugly live in them are bad, etc.

Um, isn't that bit of social commentary better suited for a film coming out in 1991 or so? And didn't they already make the movie, under the title "They Live"?

Why not do a biting satire about the Eisenhower Administration instead? That would be equally topical and "edgy."

Oh, well. The master of zombie survival horror seems to be a master no more.

(Actually, his color remake of Night of the Living Dead was pretty sucky, too. Let's face it, he peaked with Dawn of the Dead, and that was from the early eighties.)

Allah Says It's Even Worse Than That: Apparently George A. Romero casts the film as an America vs. terrorists analogy, and, of course, he's not quite with the WoT program:

His zombie sagas, which also include the critically lauded 1979 masterpiece "Dawn of the Dead" (the remake of which was a hit last year), are splatter-happy and sweat-inducing survival dramas, but, as Romero says modestly, he likes "to throw in some observations about what's going on in the world."

"Night" evoked Vietnam-era bloodshed and, with its black male lead trapped in a farmhouse, echoed civil rights hysteria. "Dawn" poked fun at soul-deadening consumerism. And "Day" addressed ethics in science. With "Land," Romero tackles issues of safety and boundaries, showing a community fortifying itself against a murderous horde while its wealthiest keep alive class divisions separating them from the powerless.

"It's the folly of saying, 'Everything's OK, don't worry about it,' " says Romero, who wrote "Land" before the events of Sept. 11. Its focus then was about "ignoring social ills, setting up a synthetic sense of comfort."

He says he didn't have to tweak it much to reflect new fears of terrorism. When told that it's hard not to think of Iraq watching an armored car of trigger-happy humans roll through a zombiefied suburb shooting anything they see, Romero smiles. "That's one of the things I put in there afterward."

One of the mistakes these dopes keep making is that they set up a film with an inarguably real threat but then attempt to suggest the threat is fictitious-- a dramatized version of Michael Moore's famous "fictitious war" Oscar screed.

But... see, guys? Even if that's what you believe is going on in the real world, in the fantasy world you've set up, the threat is genuine. So the political point you're making is in direct contradiction of the dramatic situation you've constructed.

Was there a real threat in the Star Wars sequels? Well, there ought to have been; Lucas never really seems to be able to decide if the menace is a phantom one (his political take on the real world) or a genuine one (which is what the movies require if we're to care about who wins or who dies at all).

It's pretty tough to make an anti-war fantasy war movie. It's much easier to make an anti-war movie about real war, because there's obviously so much horror in war.

But these sci-fi/fantasy guys really ought to give up trying to make "complex" points in movies with rayguns and flesh-eating shambling dead.

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posted by Ace at 02:27 PM

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