2005-06-25

The zombies aren't the only spoiled things around here

Sunday, June 25, 2005

 

Having recently seen George A. Romero's LAND OF THE DEAD, I thought I should weigh in with my opinions on it - but be warned, there will be spoilers popping out to eat your face so if you haven't seen the movie yet and don't want to have things ruined for you, leave now.

 

 

I mean, really, leave. Now.

 

 

Still here? Okay, you've been warned...

 

Unless you've been under a rock for a few decades you know who Romero is, you've heard of his zombie movies, you know how he always includes some societal commentary in them - and if you're a fan of the genre you're likely aware that his previous movie, DAY OF THE DEAD, was meant to be a lot richer but was severely cut due to pressure from his financiers. The DVD of DAY OF THE DEAD includes a copy of the original script which detailed a segregated city where drugs and sex were bought and sold, where the elite lived in luxury in a protected location while those who got on their bad side were sent to live in poverty.

Look familiar? If it does, odds are good you've seen LAND OF THE DEAD already.

There are a few problems with LotD, however, the biggest (in my not so humble opinion) being that not enough time was spent on the distinction between the "upper" and "lower" classes, as well as taking an interesting idea - what if the zombies start developing intelligence, no matter how rudimentary? - and not really following through with it.

Example the First: Cholo (played by John Leguizamo, a great actor/writer/comedian) has his heart set on earning enough money from his mercenary gig to purchase a spot in Fiddler's Green, where all the beautiful people live - but of course Kaufman, the guy who runs the place (played by Dennis Hopper) isn't about to let him in. Does Romero really expect us to believe that a hard-core merc like Cholo is so easily duped into believing that he'd be welcome among a bunch of WASPs? I know it's relevant to the plot because it sets up for the hijacking of DEAD RECKONING, but come on!

Example the Second: Okay, we understand that the zombie known as Big Daddy (played by Eugene Clark) is pissed that the mercs have invaded his town and are taking supplies for the folks back home at Fiddler's Green and Ghetto, and I can deal with his assault on the city...hell, I can even cope with Big Daddy teaching another zombie how to fire an automatic weapon! However, why is it that once the walls have been breached and the city has basically fallen, the remaining zombies shamble away? Hell, they've just found themselves a massive source of food - not to mention a source of new zombie recruits - so why would they leave? Were they going back to their "hometown" to "live" out their "lives" in peace? If so, why not at least take some snacks for the trip?

(Side note: I suppose that one of the advantages to traveling with zombies is that you'll never have to listen to the incessant cries of, "Are we there yet?")

Example the Third: As I mentioned earlier the city is divided into two sections, with some folks living in luxury and others just trying to survive; while it is true that the entire area is walled off and therefore (supposedly) safe from the zombies, the fact remains that there are Haves and Have Nots. We are given early hints that there is discontent amongst the rabble and at the end of the movie, when the walls are down and the zombies have moved on, we're told that some of them will stay behind and Try To Rebuild Civilization. Perhaps it's just me, but if I'd managed to barely survive a mass invasion by an army of zombies I'd sure as hell be gathering up ammo and preparing some defensive fortifications - or do they really believe the zombies won't be coming back? I'm not asking for much; I'd even settle for a throwaway line to that effect - but it comes across that everything is all sweetness and light, unicorns and bunnies will be pissing rainbows, and the zombie threat is OVAH!

(Knock knock) Hello, McFly!

Don't get me wrong, there's a lot to like about this movie...the effects are good, the overall plot is interesting - even with the holes I've mentioned - and the cameos are great (most notably Tom Savini reprising his role as the machete-wielding bad guy from the original DAWN OF THE DEAD, only this time he's also a zombie), but I wouldn't go as far as calling LotD a "masterpiece."

I'm hoping that there will be lots of extra footage on the inevitable DVD release that might help explain things, and I'll even go so far as to say that I think Romero could make one more movie to tie up some loose ends...I'm just not sure if he should.