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Dawn Of The Dead
Ving Rhames stars in Zack Snyder's gun-toting remake of Romero's zombie classic

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One minute, everything's normal. The next, the world is in the grip of an apocalyptic plague, which sees the dead rise from the grave and attack the living, in ever-increasing numbers. A group of disparate survivors gather in a large shopping mall to try to survive the onslaught, but soon realise that if they want to live, they’ll have to take on the army of the dead…

When the announcement was made that Universal were "re-envisioning" George A. Romero's zombie horror classic Dawn of the Dead, it seemed ill-advised (and faintly sacrilegious). After all, remakes quite frankly suck, right? Well, not always. In fact, against all the odds, this gruesome, dark, relentless flick can take its place alongside the likes of John Carpenter's The Thing and Scorsese's Cape Fear in the remakes hall of fame.

Plotwise, we're on familiar ground - a group of survivors hole up in a shopping mall and try not to get eaten by zombie hordes. However, apart from a few token nods to the original (the odd cameo here; a re-staging of a minor sequence there), this is a very different beast. It's shorter, leaner, and meaner than Romero's film, and it almost completely jettisons Romero's satirical attack on consumerism and capitalism in favour of a streamlined series of tense setpieces. And for once, that's no bad thing.

Yes, there are too many characters (none of whom appear to have seen a zombie film), but standouts include Polley, Rhames' hard-nut cop, Weber's stoic good guy, and Ty Burrell's sardonic coward, who manage to generate genuine feeling with limited material, so that when some inevitably fall by the wayside, it has more impact than the usual bland teen horror fodder.

Like Romero's pulpy progenitor, there's a fair share of laughs, including a sequence where zombies are picked off from long distance based purely on their spurious resemblance to celebrities. Most of all, though, this is about zombie-crunching action, from the initial, tense opening - including a stunning pre-credits sequence in which we follow Polley through the beginnings of the unexplained plague - to a final kick-ass third in which our heroes load up with weaponry and souped-up trucks and head out to face the zombie holocaust.

It's here that the controversial decision to eschew the lumbering zombies of lore and go for fast-moving vicious bastards really pays off, generating a genuine sense of fear and revealing this for what it really is: a pared-down homage to Aliens. And a damn good one, too. The lack of truly gut-churning gore may alienate Romero fans, but if this allows the master to have his shot at making his fourth and final Dead film, that's no bad thing.

Coming so soon after the dull Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, this is a welcome surprise, containing more bona fide scares than Romero's vision, while paying grand lip service to the old master. Truly worthy of that famous title.

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Average user rating for Dawn Of The Dead
Empire Star Rating

Dead Right

This is far superior to the slow, dated and hugely overrated Romero movie. Purists sniff that this one doesn't have the satire of Romero's film, well the so-called "satire" was a dragged-out joke that wasn't that clever or funny in the first place. Zack Snyder cuts out the crap, pares the story down to the bone and goes for the scares and it works brilliantly. Not only that, it stands up to repeated viewings unlike Romero's Dawn which I find boring with awful cheapo zombie make-up (did... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BenTramer at 16:00, 13 January 2013 | Report This Post

Dawn of the Dead (2004) Review

A kinetic, violent and surprisingly worthy remake of George Romero's horror classic that pays homage to the original while working on its own terms. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 21:44, 14 December 2011 | Report This Post

Exemplary Remake

Brilliant fun, gloriously entertaining, and superbly produced, Zack Snyder has crafted the perfect remake in this tongue-in-cheek thrill-packer that never fails to raise heartrates. And the occasional chuckle. Genuinely exciting stuff. ... More

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Posted by blaud at 02:59, 02 February 2011 | Report This Post

Better than the original!!

Much better than the original. The original was too fucking funny and not scary AT ALL. The remake is ace! ... More

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Posted by darkraven28 at 22:52, 26 May 2010 | Report This Post

Better than the original!!

Much better than the original. The original was too fucking funny and not scary AT ALL. The remake is ace! ... More

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Posted by darkraven28 at 22:52, 26 May 2010 | Report This Post

A remake that, if not captures the whole essence and horror of the original, doesn't insults (like most remakes) the original masterpiece. A 4-star deserving remake. Real good stuff. (But, again, not as great as the original.) ... More

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Posted by nc_jj at 04:16, 27 April 2010 | Report This Post

Not as good as the original, however its stupid fun.

The remake of Dawn is the fourth greatest zombie movie ever made. Romeros original DAWN was much better written and the characters were cool, The remake has paper thin cardboard characters with little if any satnd out characters, just switch your brain off and enjoy the ride. ... More

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Posted by Horrorguru at 15:02, 17 March 2010 | Report This Post

Not that scary ...but loads of fun!

Remakes are normally risky business ...but the phrase "horror remake" normally actually means "shoddily made cash-in" this quite a surprisingly fun movie. It's more of a "thrill-ride" than a "shock-fest" if you catch my meaning!? Unless your of a nervous disposition this probably won't scare you that much, but there is plenty of zombie carnage and desparate fleeing/fighting scenes to keep you entertained. ... More

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Posted by SkullKassidy at 12:13, 29 August 2008 | Report This Post

best ever

in my mind this really is the best zombie flick ever made, scary, with great gore, well acted, brillant direction, and a truely great soundtrack, kick ass action, love the zack! ... More

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Posted by anakin73 at 17:50, 18 July 2008 | Report This Post

a remake that respects the original masterpiece.

DAWN OF THE DEAD 04 is a respectful remake to George A Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD 78. im a huge fan of romeros original trilogy and really was expecting the remake of romeros original movie to be crap. oh how i was wrong. essentially its romeros original basic concept thrown into a action movie. its miles better than 28 DAYS LATER and it basically screams out admiration for romeros original vision. The original DAWN will always be far superior however this remake is a fitting tribute to a ... More

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Posted by Horrorguru at 23:16, 11 January 2008 | Report This Post

Proof that not all remakes are rubbish, Dawn of the Dead mark II is a tense, ambient and at times petrifying revisiting of the classic original. Bursting with malevolence and no little tongue in cheek, this is slick, hugely enjoyable entertainment that happily stands alone from its famous ancestor. ... More

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Posted by Eomer_King at 22:24, 28 January 2007 | Report This Post

Outstanding remake

This is a remake that stands with the hills have eyes as bieng the best horror remake. Still there is plenty of disgusting and stomach churning gore. However its lost it low budget feel and its more of a horror/action film. However there are only a few small holes to pick in this. Classisc. ... More

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Posted by solid snake at 22:23, 01 December 2006 | Report This Post

zombies, that run!!!

im a huge fan of the original george romero's films and was so worried that this film would totally mess up the whole zombie think. infact the film is really good, of course it aint as good as the original, but it still gives a cool twist on the story (zombies that run!) what also was really cool, was the credits, what other zombie flick credits have got johnny cash running over it? ... More

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Posted by {luke} at 21:27, 18 July 2006 | Report This Post

Dawn of the dead

Oooh Zombies!!!!!!!!!!! ... More

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Posted by premierbaron at 08:53, 15 April 2006 | Report This Post

Dawn of the Dead

An awesome film from start to finish - hope there is a sequel en route but I doubt it given the credits sequence - any thoughts? ... More

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Posted by Ed of the Dead at 15:09, 30 March 2006 | Report This Post

Good film but not a "Romero" film

To tell the truth this is as much a remake of Dawn as 28 Days later is. Many of the key aspects have changes the Zombies are fast "Rage style" zombies, there are loads of people in the mall. The get away in a large truck etc. Its a very different movie, and is an action movie rather than being a horror-end of the world movie. There are some fantastic additions the guy on the roof a distance away, the baby scene and the Dog. It sort of feels like a prequel to Land of the Dead, especaill... More

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Posted by jpmwright at 13:52, 10 January 2006 | Report This Post

Dawn Of The Dead

I absolutely love the original Romero Dead Trilogy and thought this may not live up to expectations. However whilst the title, and shopping mall remain the same this movie is a different re-imagining of the zombie holocaust. Perhaps imitating 28 Days Later the "Dead" are fast and this makes for some tense scenes. Highly gory - who says the original is more so? Great soundtrack. Great Film. ... More

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Posted by Andyhutch at 18:06, 03 January 2006 | Report This Post

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