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Film
One ordinary night, very attractive nurse Ana (Sarah Polley) and her disposable husband go to bed. The next not so ordinary morning they wake up with Vivian, the little girl from next door standing in their doorway. After rushing to help, the hubbie bites the dust when little Vivian bites into his jugular. The problem is, he doesn’t stay dead. He gets up and savagely attacks Ana, who escapes to her car. As she drives through her quaint little neighbourhood, she sees what seems to be the apocalypse, people returning from the dead to attack the living. After crashing her car she meets up with policeman Kenneth (Ving Rhames) and couple of other survivors. The small group takes refuge in a mall where they meet up with even more survivors. They now have the choice of either waiting in the mall and hope for a rescue, or fight the hordes of undead cannibals that surround the mall and save themselves.

Dawn of the Dead: Director's Cut
First off, this is bloody good fun. When I say bloody, I mean bloody. It is not surprising considering it is a remake over the even more bloody film by zombie legend George A. Romero. However, it never does the disservice, like so many horror films (I’m looking at you Freddy vs. Jason), of being so gory it lacks enjoyment. There is serious gore here, mostly head shots and bullet hits, which means bloody good fun. There are also some extra gore scenes (mostly new head shots) in this Director’s Cut.

There is a perfect balance here between the action and the horror. There is enough action to call it an action flick, but it’s also scary enough to be called horror. The comic relief also works well. The two genres blend well together and it creates a very scary and exciting experience. There are plenty of terrific shootouts, suspenseful chases, and some truly brilliant and atmospheric scares; for instance, a very gothic scene in a parking garage. There are also plenty of surprises. I won’t ruin them but I will say this is never predictable. The opening credits sequence is also worth a mention. It is a video with newscasts and footage to show the apocalyptic effect of the undead army over Johnny Cash’s ‘When the Man Comes Around’—really good stuff.

Dawn of the Dead: Director's Cut
Part of the film’s success is the dedicated performances of the cast, who know exactly what this movie is all about and obviously have loads of fun, but still bring believability to their characters, which to the script’s credit, are very well developed. Especially in this Directors Cut, which mainly centres on further development of some of the smaller characters. It’s nice to see Sarah Polley move into the after a series of Arthouse and Indie flicks, she look great here and plays the part of Ana with real humanity and compassion. Ving Rhames is also great to watch and is having lots of fun as hard-faced copper Kenneth. It was also good to see Jake Weber having a little fun as Michael, who is really just like a big teenager. Performances are generally good and the actors really do seem to care about how their character comes across. Also worth a mention is Lindy Booth, who was very cute as Nicole, the artistic teen. I hope to see more of her in future movies.

I also really enjoyed the music. For the most part, the music is folk, jazz (including a humorous cover of the metal song ‘Down with the Sickness’), country and rock. It was really unusual for this sort of movie and worked quite well. It was complimented by an intense score by Tyler Bates. This is a really good soundtrack that may actually be worth a purchase.

Dawn is a really good night in if you are into either action or horror. It is scary and exciting and wickedly funny at times. The great cast give it their all and have a blast. The film is well paced and is very unpredictable. This Director’s Cut adds to what we saw in cinemas as we learn more of the characters and get those extra few kick-ass bullet hits. This is a perfect movie to watch with fiends, nachos and beer. It is a great violent fun movie a la Starship Troopers and 28 Days Later… and is totally full of surprises (which is why you should watch all the way through the credits – hint hint!)

Dawn of the Dead: Director's Cut
Video
Presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, Dawn looks pretty good. There is some very nice work with colours in the film and these are well saturated for this DVD which is good. The nicely worked shots are also not disturbed by grain for the most part and the colour contrasts come across very nicely. The only problem I had was at a scene in a children’s store involving dark greens and blacks. Although the colours were fine the shadows were just too overbearing. There is also some very heavy edge enhancement, but it’s hardly anything to worry about. A good transfer all up.

Audio
Call me crazy, but I found the Dolby 5.1 track to be a bit flat. The tiger-like zombie cries sound very frightening indeed, but other than that, it seemed to be lacking. This could have been an overly explosive track, but the surrounds sound almost desperate, like they want so hard to be used well, but end up sounding inconsistent. Although the subwoofer gets a bit of a thumping sometimes, it is also inconsistent. Other than that it’s not too bad. Dialogue is fine; it’s all in synch, with no clicks or dropouts. But still, maybe I’m just yearning for a DTS track.

Extras
The film can be viewed with an optional introduction by director Zack Snyder. It’s only 90 seconds but he explains that there is more character development and gore in this cut. He also lends his voice to a commentary alongside producer Eric Newman. This is a decent commentary that flows well and is very relaxed. It’s good to hear some of the background information as well.

Dawn of the Dead: Director's Cut
The disc comes with two very cheap looking extra short films based on the film. First is ‘Andy’s Lost Tape’ which is the tape made by gun-store owner Andy through the events of the film. At almost seventeen minutes, it’s a little long, but humorous at times. The other is the emergency bulletin feature which shows some footage shown on the televisions in the film, as well as plenty more. Again, at twenty minutes it’s overlong, but a watchable feature.

We then get three making of featurettes. ‘Raising the Dead,’ ‘Attack of the Dead,’ and ‘Splitting Headaches’. These three featurettes are about seven minutes each and all go over different types of make-up and effects displayed throughout the movie. They are all interesting and worth a look as some of the effects in the film are almost seamless considering they were mostly done with dummies.

Finishing the package is a collection of deleted and alternate scenes with optional commentary by Snyder, all of which are pretty inconsequential, and a trailer for Shaun of the Dead, the English movie that parodies the title. Looks like a bit of fun.  

A decent set of extras, but the ‘Lost Tape’ and ‘Emergency Bulletin’ would have been gladly sacrificed for an in-depth making of. Oh well, you can’t have everything.

Dawn of the Dead: Director's Cut
Overall
Not much to say here. Dawn is a fun movie which gets fair treatment on DVD. Already we get more already with an extended Directors Cut and a good video transfer to go with it. It is just a shame the audio track is a letdown. It could have been so much more intense. The extras are pretty good, but some more about actually shooting and behind the scenes would have been good for those who want to know more than just gore effects. But overall, it’s a nice package that’s worth picking up.


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