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Land of the Dead

Director: George A. Romero
Cast: Simon Baker, Asia Argento, Dennis Hopper
Running time: 92 minutes
Rating: Un-rated

Story: The world is so overrun with the living dead that the survivors have barricaded themselves in a city. The upper class are living the good life while the poor rule the streets and fight off the zombies, who keep evolving.

Review: For years there had been talk of a fourth film in George Romero's 'Dead' series, but nothing materialized. Every once in a while rumors would start up, including one stating the working title was 'Twilight of the Dead.' It's not like it was completely necessary though. I mean the previous sequel, 'Day of the Dead,' didn't exactly leave the door wide open, yet it was left all the way closed either. Whether it was rights, budgetary, and/or time issues or not, the event finally came about two decades after the last one. Fans all over were thrilled and expectations seemed high.

Sadly the film didn't exactly hit a homerun at the box office. Also, the reaction was somewhat mixed. True it may not be the great comeback we were hoping for from Romero, but it's far from an embarrassment. One thing's for sure, it's a bit different than it's predecessors. It's obvious that it was backed by a major studio and while there is plenty of practical effects there's some CGI work as well. Is that a bad thing? You be the judge, but in this case it's ok in my book.

Whereas the other three films had very simple opening title sequences, this one's is a combination of stop motion, montage, and fog and it's really pretty neat. Both the set design and decoration are really well done. The set-up for Fiddler's Green is especially perfect. The make-up, gore, and most of the CGI are all some of the best in recent memory. Plus there's quite a bit of the gore. Out of the four films this one is the most fast-paced. It starts quick and almost never lets up.

All the actors do an excellent job and create some pretty unforgettable characters. One thing that has become a trademark of the series is the social commentary in Romero's writing. Though it may not be as strong here, there's still quite a bit to be found. One really good thing this one has in common with 'Day' is it's gloomy, dread-filled look and feel. The streets of the city are dirty and desolate and the weather is cloudy and chilly. The zombies themselves are scarier than they've been in quite some time.

Lastly, the musical score is pretty good. Not on par with those in 'Dawn' or 'Day,' but it holds it's own. Now the biggest problem I see here is that it feels like a lot was crammed into the short running time. Had the film been longer, like say by 20 minutes the characters and plot could have been more fleshed out. And as I said earlier, some of the CGI didn't turn out so well, like when you see that zombie swing by a hole in a fence.

It really is a shame that great directors like George Romero don't get the same recognition that others like Stephen Spielberg and James Cameron do. Don't get me wrong, I love their work as well, but it's like they have gotten to make far more films and TV projects. But hey at least George is still in the game and still producing quality material that we love him for.

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