I was looking forward to watching this, being a fan of apocalypse-type movies. With regards to other zombie movies, I enjoyed the remake of Dawn of the Dead, was disappointed with the original Night of the Living Dead (I think it's overrated), and was mildly entertained, yet also disappointed with 28 Days Later. So I was curious to see how Land of the Dead would rate.
Imagine what a world would be like months or even years after a zombie outbreak. This is what this movie is all about. Entire cities are abandoned and in ruin, completely overrun by the undead. The remaining human survivors band together in encampments protected by walls and electric fences, protecting them from the zombies.
A class society exists, with the more well-to-do humans staying together in a megaplex building, containing all sorts of luxuries and security. It is controlled by a shady businessman played by Dennis Hopper. Supplies and resources need to be gathered from the ruins of civilization - a dangerous task that is accomplished by mercenary teams led by Riley and Cholo (John Leguizamo). They have this super tank-like vehicle named 'Dead Reckoning' to protect them against the zombies.
Things go wrong when Hopper rejects Leguizamo's application to live in the megaplex complex, as it's supposed to be for the rich only. So Leguizamo decides to take Dead Reckoning for himself and threaten to destroy the megaplex.
You have the usual zombie/undead parts such as guy thinking the coast is clear, then out comes the zombie who gives a quick bite, and it's all over, with either his companions decide to shoot him before he turns into an undead himself, or him being eaten alive by zombies. These scenes are usually shocking and brutal, and there are lots of them in this movie.
However, the impact of the 'eaten alive' scenes don't have the shock value of similar scenes from the Dawn of the Dead remake. It's because no effort was made to build any emotional bond between the audience and the character. I think this was the intent on the part of director George Romero though, he probably wanted to keep the theme light and fast.
It's because of this that I feel that Dawn of the Dead is the superior movie of the two. The Dawn remake feels more realistic, and has more of the apocalypse feel. Land is more like a typical horror/action movie. In fact for some reason I couldn't help but think of Robocop while watching this, as you had your superhero-like characters in Riley and Cholo, and a supervehicle that had its own name.
An interesting plot line was the one which shows how the zombies evolved to become smarter. They were led by a somewhat more intelligent zombie named 'Big Daddy' who felt empathy toward his fellow undead, could communicate with them, and eventually lead them to take over the walled city. So while the humans adapted to life after the undead invasion, the zombies also did some adapting of their own.
Romero fans will enjoy this movie. It's mindless, the characters are shallow but fun, and there's plenty of gore, but done in a good way as to not upset anyone. Some may say there's some social commentary and message being communicated in this film, but naaah, it's just a fun zombie movie.
Rating: 3/5 * * *
Textbook undead film.