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 by Mike Smith

"Dawn of the Dead" review....H.G. Wells "Things to Come" (1936) on OBC....Goodbye J.J.
 by Andy Lalino

Whitewolf Games....Wizards of the Coast
 by Joshua Montgomery

The Great Battle of "We the People of the US" and Free Speech
 by Dylan Jones

Dating Sims
 by Clayton Smith

Collecting in he New Millenium - Part 2: Sports Cards
 by Brandon Jones

Scooby Doo 2....WizKids/Hero Clix
 by John Lewis

We Must End This Now!...Going Ape....Passing On....Meet The Beatles, Part 11
 by Mike Smith

Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2003!
    Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our fifth calendar year!
    Number 210  (Vol. 5, No. 14). This edition is for the week of March 29--April 4, 2004.

   At long last: "Dawn of the Dead"
   Also, looking forward to "Hellboy"

The comedy of errors that preceeded my finally being able to see the new Dawn of the Dead could fill a book. It averaged a disaster a day for the last two weeks. Then I thought last Sunday would be perfect for a noon showtime. Unfortunately, Sunday morning as I was clocking out, an old genetic defect acted up, and I dislocated my left kneecap. S' OK, it's happened before but it's very painful and cripples me anywhere from a few hours to several weeks. This one was only going to suck for a few hours. I was recovered enough by 1:30pm to contemplate going for the 2:30 show of DOTD at Britton Plaza. I called for a cab over a half hour before showtime, but he never showed. I cancelled. Will Moriaty and I went out to Hooters that night and I asked him to drop me off afterwards at the same theater for the 9:50pm show. Imagine my horror when I see all the young employees sitting in lawn chairs out in front of the theater announcing that due to lack of ticket sales, the theater had closed early for the night!!

Corey Castellano returned from his Bahamas movie shoot over the weekend and called me early Monday morning. After catching up on news, we agreed to try another crack at Britton Plaza's DOTD afternoon show for Tuesday (Brandon Jones and I had a firm tentative for Wednesday if all else failed -- Thanks, Bran). WE MADE IT! Stroke of luck one of the kids recognized me from this website and my odious night job (equal parts) and gave Corey and me substantial discounts. OK, things were starting to look up.

We got in just in time to see the last few trailers, among which was "Hellboy". But..on with the show.

I am possibly going to disappoint some folks, but I didn't hate it. I didn't LOVE it. But I didn't hate it. On the PCR scale I am somewhere around the Lalino mark (his first account on the CF message board. His current Oddservations is more exhaustive and somewhat more negative). So, around 2 and a half stars.

That said, I certainly understand more what everyone is talking about. I see what Mike Smith (PCR 209) and Joshua Montgomery (CF message board as "Black Dog") liked so much, and what Drew Reiber (message board) and ED Tucker (PCR 209) hated so much. So rather than rehash the points of movie which has been exhausted by my esteemed colleagues, I'd rather address their concerns.

For openers, I loved the zombie make-ups, flat out. I love that weird sound the zombies make, that screech--it's unearthly and animalisic. The first attack by the little girl is the same girl who greeted our heroine, Ana, out by the road just minutes before she pulled into the driveway (that's how I perceived it). When the kid enters the house, shrieks and dive bombs for hubby's neck, it is genuinely gruesome and chilling. That chunk she tears out of him reminds me of the opening scene of either the original "Dawn" or "Day" where that that black zombie takes a bite out of that tenement 'ho.

The flying shots of Milwaukee in flames and at war are great. Running hordes of zombies are enough to creep anyone out.

The much-ballyhooed over-cranked action and athletically-fit zombies have been overstated in the press in my opinion. I don't think the cameras are over-cranking, I think it's that same shutter trick Spielberg used on "Saving Private Ryan" --- it makes high-octane action scenes weird-looking with that strobing effect, so you get this flash-card feel to very fast action scenes. I will admit in DOTD it's a trifle overdone. The zombies running and jumping all over the place is a side-effect of their violent animalisitc nature, brought on by the "virus"(?). (I think it's commendable that through ALL the "Dead" movies, the supernatural is played down in favor of biological warfare or whatever.) Their twitching, spastic nature is more in tune with vampires at "feeding frenzy".

Now I have to agree with Drew and Edward that the shopping mall scenes are where he whole thing tends to break down dramatically. It's as if the producers and director wanted to stage it there as the whole point of doing a "Dead" remake, but a lot of things just really don't make sense. At one point the cast seems to actually be enjoying themselves and having parties.

The deal with "Andy", the gun dealer trapped across the street is handled pretty well. The performances from the cast overall were fine, I thought, particularly "Kenneth" the big black cop (every "Dead" movie must revolve around a central black character--there's obviously social commentary going on with that, but I've always been too dim to get it).

Ken Foree and Tom Savini both have great cameos. Both seen on TV news segents, Savini coins the "twitcher" term. Foree's charcter seems more spiritual and finally declares the infamous "When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth" line from the notorious original poster.

The zombie baby's birth and revelation is pretty cool, seen soon after the zombified mother dies and is resurrected, very much pregnant. This scene approaches tragedy if you've been following these characters, and does make you think what you'd do in a similar situation (not that it'll ever happen.....right?).

The "musack" in the mall always seems to be playing something funny or ironic. While everyone else loves this kind of gag so very much, it's been done to death and calls attention to itself. I laugh at it, but kind of in a more embarrassed way.

The screenplay ends on an action-packed but predictable down note (well, that's consistent), and the whole Blair Witch video thing over the end credits is a bit contrived (altho it does afford us some more marvelous "flash card" zombie close-ups).

George Romero's social commentary about consumer America is not what the remake revolves around despite the similarities in the set-up. This is more about a sudden out-of-the-blue Armageddon scenario. Cut out the silly scenes in the mall and you might have something.

Like I said, Two and a half stars.

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"Mike's Rant" is ©2004 by Michael A. Smith    "Matt's Rail" is ©2004 by Matthew Drinnenberg     "La Floridiana" is ©2004 by William Moriaty     "This Week's Movie Review" is ©2004 by Michael A. Smith    "Oddservations" is ©2004 by Andy Lalino    "Splash Page" is ©2004 by Brandon Jones    "The Black Dog Bites Back" is ©2004 by Joshua Montgomery    "The Drow" is ©2004 by Dylan Jones    "Nicholas Rex" is ©2004 by Nick King    "The Ogre" is ©2004 by Clayton Smith      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova    
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