By October 29, 2005

They should have stayed (un)dead

At long last Lady Jaye and I saw George Romero’s Land of the Dead last night. I was looking forward to seeing it in the the theater, and I think it came out around the time of the big layoff at work among other lifechanges, so we didn’t get a chance to see it.

I wish that we didn’t.

My biggest complaint with the movie is that it absolutely failed to engage me. Mostly because the film is a even less-thinly-guised social commentary than the previous three films, and the 1st grader approach at selling its message made us roll our eyes. The gas attendant black zombie who remembers how to reason and leads a rebellion against a white real estate developer tycoon who rules one of the remaining human outposts; the “mercy killing” the gas attendant enacts on a zombie caught on fire during an attack; the all-white occupants of the upper-class high rise fortress in the center of the outpost — all of these things and more were so cliche that they failed to make me give a shit about any of the characters. John Leguizamo’s character “Cholo,” which is a slang term for a Mexican gangster, tries to buy his way into the white kingdom of Fiddler’s Green by doing the city’s dirtywork and is of course told there is no room for his kind, as the membership committee is “very selective.” The ultimate eye-roller? The disaffected leaving for Canada, the real-life rallying cry of every whiny ass hyper lefty who shed crocodile tears after George W. Bush was re-elected. Give me a fucking break.

I didn’t mind that the previous Romero zombie movies had social commentary or political messages because they were zombie movies first, and commentaries second. Not so with Land of the Dead, which beats its chest so soundly that the traditional zombie gore and feast scenes seem out of place. Why not just film a Michael Moore’s style mockumentary that states simply, “all but the highest caste of American society lives like feral zombies?” It would have been a lot easier and we could have gotten our latest zombie chronicle from someone much more qualified to treat the genre, such as Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) orJames Gunn (Dawn of the Dead remake).

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