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Overall Rating
3.82

Awesome: 27.37%
Worth A Look49.16%
Average: 9.5%
Pretty Bad: 6.15%
Total Crap: 7.82%

15 reviews, 89 user ratings


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Land of the Dead
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Romero is back with a vengeance."
5 stars

The key to George A. Romero's Dead films is that, movie by movie, the flesh-eating zombies become more and more sympathetic -- animalistic, but pure and sincere, compared with corrupt human survivors -- until, in the fourth entry 'Land of the Dead,' they emerge as something like heroes.

Breathes there a moviegoer with soul so dead who won't cheer on the zombies as they tuck into a refreshing midnight snack of rich people? Romero has always used his zombie films as vehicles for social commentary, and here, several years after the dead began to rise and eat the living, the city is separated into two segments: those who are wealthy and white enough to afford a safe skyscraper existence far away from the moaning undead; and everyone else. What's more, the zombies have grown tired of being used for target practice. Through instinct, or perhaps through trial and error, they have begun to learn.

For many horror fans, Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1979) are the gold standard of independently financed fearmaking. His Day of the Dead (1985) was by necessity truncated -- Romero simply didn't have the budget to realize his initial concept -- and it was a bitter and frustrated movie, yet still offered some pleasures. Two decades have passed since Romero has put a zombie in front of a camera, and the danger is that some fans will bring to Land of the Dead twenty years of anticipation, dreams of the epic Romero should have been free to make for all these years in limbo. Forget all that. The film cannot and will not meet such expectations; no film could. What it does, and does tightly and with a finely wrought sense of purpose I haven't seen from Romero in a very long while, is to tell a ripping good zombie yarn.

The hero, of a sort, is Riley (Simon Baker), a weary veteran of warfare with the "stenches." He has built an impenetrable transport rig called Dead Reckoning, and in it he and his men travel to hot spots in the zombie-laden areas of the city, scavenging for supplies. (This saga may have begun in 1968 in our time, but in the movies' timeline we're probably only talking about a span of a few years, which would explain why there are still places that can be scavenged from.) One of Riley's men, Cholo (John Leguizamo), has other ideas; his scheme is to hijack Dead Reckoning and threaten to blow up the rich-people sector of Fiddler's Green unless the boss of everything, Mr. Kaufman (Dennis Hopper), gives Cholo a large amount of money. Meanwhile, a band of zombies, gradually growing in number, line up behind a vengeful zombie (Eugene Clark) who, like "Bub" in Day of the Dead, is a rather quick study.

The movie is fast but never rushed; with a master's control, Romero sets his characters in motion and against each other. Special-effects guru Tom Savini isn't in charge of the gore this time (he does reprise his role from Dawn, though, a brutal machete-wielding biker now turned shambling zombie), but Savini's loss is Greg Nicotero's gain; Nicotero's zombie make-up is, dare I say, subtly crafted, and the splattery bits are suggested more often than shown, just as in Night of the Living Dead. I'd also say that, with a cast including Asia Argento as an ex-hooker Riley rescues and Robert Joy as a sort of Lennie to Riley's George, not to mention dependable veterans Leguizamo and Hopper, Land of the Dead boasts the best acting since Night. The movie successfully brings this series full circle, or perhaps begins (dare we hope?) another trilogy. Hey, if George Lucas could do it, why not this much more visionary George?

Land of the Dead quieted my misgivings early on, when we see zombies chained up for cheap entertainment at some punk-goth dive frequented by the scummy dilettantes of the city. You ache for one of those poor zombies to break loose and gnaw some meat, and soon enough they do. In the Dead films, Romero shows us humanity at its most callous, against which the guileless hunger of the zombies seems innocent. Supposedly soulless, the flesh-eaters have more soul than those trying to eradicate them.

Romero understands his genre from top to bottom: The subject is not humans but monsters, and how they reflect each other, and how, as Nietzsche put it, humanity consists mainly of battling monsters without becoming one. It's a message that has been uniquely relevant in every decade Romero has advanced it, and it is ultra-relevant now.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12288&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/03/07 08:18:37
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2005 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/13/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess Through numerous sequels and rip-offs, Romero manages to keep the corpses fresh. 4 stars
12/27/09 art THE 1932 film WHITE ZOMBIE was the best walking dead FILM! 2 stars
10/18/09 PAUL SHORTT FURTHER EVIDENCE THAT YOU CAN REANIMATE THE DEAD ONLY SO MANY TIMES 1 stars
8/31/09 Chad Dillon Cooper Better than Diary, not as good as the first three. 4 stars
12/19/08 Craig D. There's a lot more here than a political subtext, Danny. Go watch your Transformers DVD. 4 stars
8/13/08 Shaun Wallner Bloody Awesome!!! 5 stars
6/11/07 Danny.G Ignore the Romero grovelling reviews, this is TV movie stuff.."oh wow, a political subtext" 1 stars
6/07/07 fools♫gold I loved "28 Days Later" much greater (a film I underrated), but this is cool. 5 stars
12/12/06 Angela Saunders Surprisingly better than expected. I actually loved it! 4 stars
11/24/06 David Pollastrini good gore with a little irony. 5 stars
8/25/06 havthat You'll never look at belly button piercings the same way. 4 stars
8/09/06 Dragon The Artist One of the best zombie films since Night of the Living Dead!!!!! 5 stars
7/17/06 mark fun to watch-romero needs to complete this, however, this seems like a build-up 5 stars
7/15/06 drydock54321 lots of gore 4 stars
5/08/06 omar it was ok. the violence was awesome though 4 stars
3/18/06 MP Bartley Lack of doomy finality (unlike the others) makes this seem like a very good tv movie. 4 stars
3/07/06 matt mediocre, the ending was a huge letdown 3 stars
2/25/06 ali profasion 5 stars
2/21/06 Agent Sands Not scary at all. It is action-packed, though, and Dennis Hopper is fucking hilarious. 4 stars
1/14/06 ALDO Feel incomplete....bad character development. 2 stars
1/05/06 Indrid Cold The complete waste of Dennis Hopper is one of this stinker's less eggregious crimes. 2 stars
12/29/05 chris f a very good film 4 stars
12/21/05 JJ now i know how star wars fans felt when they saw phantom menace. romero should be ashamed 1 stars
12/16/05 JeromeBosch P.S. all that money and they couldn’t buy a helicopter? 3 stars
12/13/05 Jeanne Pittsburgh it really kind of sucks 1 stars
12/12/05 gray could have been better 4 stars
11/29/05 JeromeBosch Prompted me to take another look at 'DAWN' and appreciate that film even more. 3 stars
11/27/05 Lord Durvok II Romero + big, ostentatious budget = crap 2 stars
11/23/05 Guy Pretty lame all around. 1 stars
11/19/05 Sam Justus A super enjoyable zombie flick by George A. Romero, the man that started it all. 5 stars
11/15/05 Danny Disappointment. Gore for the sake of gore. Disgusting and not EVEN scary. 1 stars
11/05/05 MAttIFUL Painfully stupid! Dawn of the Dead was so much better... god that was awful 1 stars
10/30/05 K. Sear I don't know, maybe I expectected too much? 3 stars
10/27/05 deadwiz Gotta love zombies. Not romeros best, but it will do. 4 stars
10/26/05 Richard Brandt Who can see zombies being tortured without being reminded of Abu Ghraib? 4 stars
10/26/05 Linda Richardson "Zombies, man they creep me out" sums it up for me. 5 stars
10/25/05 chris fox (the god) good movie worth watching 4 stars
10/20/05 tatum Quite the unpleasant little gore FX resume film, twenty years too late 1 stars
10/19/05 othree sucksallass, Dawn of the Dead 2004 was better, Resident Evil2 was even better, *bleh* 1 stars
10/17/05 Vince Very enjoyable zombie flick by the man who started it all 4 stars
10/14/05 conker_99 Land of the dead was one of the best movies i have ever seen. But it was a little to short. 5 stars
10/14/05 carmen fratto He never explained how the zomie's got there in the first place . 3 stars
10/01/05 Phil Interesting idea........ but no! 3 stars
9/28/05 alvin crap***great effect make up, but the story is borng n no excitement at all, sucks*** 2 stars
9/22/05 Fritz Romero's brand of zombie-ism is old and tired. 2 stars
8/25/05 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne A fairly ineffectual and banal-retentive effort at making a horror flick 2 stars
8/19/05 ES An ok movie, cool premise, but the zombies are as unscary as can be 3 stars
8/17/05 alice very average, never suprised me 3 stars
8/13/05 Mark Louis Baumgart So-so FX & make-up. A heavy-handed, illogical & pretentious social message movie. *Yawn* 1 stars
8/10/05 John excellent. anyone who disagrees is wrong. 5 stars
8/06/05 Pierre Masterpiece! 5 stars
8/02/05 Ric Good cinematography, but that's about it. 1 stars
7/21/05 Shena Johnson It was an okay movie, but I think it can be better.Use your heart. 3 stars
7/11/05 the untrained eye sorry guys, disappointed 3 stars
7/10/05 asina better than any of that wes craven crap. 5 stars
7/09/05 ROY L. CAIN Nobody scares the hell out of you like Mr. Romero ! 5 stars
7/08/05 KingNeutron Some good "jump" moments, good FX, and good acting all around. 4 stars
7/08/05 lucas completely reinvents the genre of horror movies 5 stars
7/07/05 Dave Pretty Good movie even if its not up to par with Dawn or Night. 4 stars
7/07/05 Cedric It's AMAZING, go see it! 5 stars
7/06/05 Ole Man Bourbon Completely and utterly asinine. Looks like it was written by a 4th grader. 1 stars
7/04/05 ajay not really a gore fan, so this movie was laugh-out-loud bad. 2 stars
7/04/05 ART This film has the underlying theme of class struggle. 4 stars
7/03/05 Joe This movie sucks trust me, dont trust the high ratings on this movie 1 stars
7/03/05 Malcolm this was whack 2 stars
7/02/05 Eric Rollins Glossy revisionism - totally unnecessary 2 stars
7/01/05 eleni the unrated dvd will be the REAL version. still good, though. 4 stars
6/30/05 Caiphn Disappointed, pretty crazy gore however. The last bit of dialogue extreme cheese. 3 stars
6/30/05 John Gruber Social Commentary on political situation in USA... with zombies! 5 stars
6/30/05 Gray Could have been better 4 stars
6/30/05 John A Zombie film done right - great! 5 stars
6/29/05 dolemite Pretty sweet gore. I'd give it 5 just for that 5 stars
6/29/05 phillip boyd I WANTED TO EAT MY OWN FLESH WHILE BEING FORCED TO VIEW THIS MOVIE. 1 stars
6/28/05 Kankasaur Zombie films satirizing social decay have been reborn in an era of ivory tower arrogance 5 stars
6/27/05 carlos r guzman Romero still has it(1978's Dawn still best), a bit hurried; still great - DVD maybe better 4 stars
6/27/05 Agent Sands The best American movie I've seen in the theater in 2005. No gratuitous formulaic subplots. 5 stars
6/26/05 vagile Better than worth a look if not really quite awesome. 5 stars
6/26/05 Sarah Reece I really did love this film. It's a shame that the movie did go by in a hurry. 5 stars
6/26/05 Lord Jiggy Swiftian satire it is not...easy shots at Bush...oh, so original (NOT). 2 stars
6/26/05 Darren Shea Satisfying, if a bit obvious and heavy-handed. Better acting than usual for a Romero flick. 4 stars
6/26/05 malcolm everything a zombie movie is supposed to be. take a lesson copycats. 4 stars
6/26/05 Uncle Phucker Would like to see MORE of the good stuff. Hopefully a DVD will reveal this. Worst of the 4. 4 stars
6/26/05 DennyRoss Zombie fans (like me) rejoice in spite of the cliche dialogue from the main characters. 4 stars
6/26/05 asina romero's swan song is also his masterpiece. 5 stars
6/25/05 K. Sear The weakest one yet, but still not a terrible film. 4 stars
6/25/05 maysin willie aames It's no DAWN, it's not even DAY but it's still better than the imitators... 4 stars
6/24/05 Trenchtown Awesome, Except Dennis Hopper Did his Water World Character all over again 4 stars
6/23/05 David Hollands Note quite Dawn, but well-acted, with excellent tonal balance, and wonderful direction. 5 stars
6/19/05 payback Finally, this is how you make a zombie flick 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  24-Jun-2005 (R)
  DVD: 18-Oct-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  04-Aug-2005




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