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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

So, I went this weekend (along with a 1/3 of the world's population apparently) to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I am a huge Star Wars fan, but I approached this with some trepidation. I "like" the prequels in theory, but not in execution. There are great ideas behind the prequels, such as a "manufactured" war, the decay that set into the Old Republic, the Sith's machinations, the Balance of the Force, etc. Unfortunately, they were not well realized on screen. The prequels suffered from poor writing, lack of drama or tension, virtually no (funny) humor, basically all the things that the OT had. And there was the opposite dilemma- there was NO WAY the new movie could live up to the OT. Anyone thinking this film could even come close to those heights were fools. I certainly wouldn't be. I was excited, but guarded.


So- I don't want to do a piece by piece review just now. I will say that the movie is an absolute blast. It is a ton of fun to watch- it gets SO much right that it is in fact a miracle. The actors, the special effects, the humor, the uncertainty (missing from the Prequels by their very nature), the energy- all of it is here. This is the sequel you have been waiting for in so many ways. Now- it is not perfect. It makes a few missteps, and it tries to "copy" parts of A New Hope a bit too much- and yet, despite the flaws, I feel the film works beyond all measure. You, of course, need to see the film for yourself if you are a Star Wars fan. I know at least one fan who disliked it, but just about everyone I have spoken with since have had nothing but enthusiastic praise for it- and some of these guys and gals despised the prequels and had pretty much sworn off Star Wars. Rating this, I'd give it 4 Marks of Chaos- flaws and all. After all- how do you measure "perfection"? If in film a measure is enjoying a movie then I enjoyed the hell out of this, hence the 4 Marks of Chaos. 

In this post I want to discuss a few issues and ideas that I have been mashing around in my head. However, these naturally involve a TON of spoilers. So- I will leave a gap so scroll on down. Go see the damn movie then come back- I ain't going nowhere.

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Final Spoiler Warning!! Beware.


A Start of a New Legend / Trilogy / Adventure

My friend and I  were debating the film after seeing it- he disliked it a great deal while I loved it (as did my wife). One of his chief complaints was that there were so many questions, so many things not explained, that it frustrated him. Immensely. What is the difference between the Republic and the Resistance? What happened between Han and Leia? Who the hell is Snoke? Why does Ren hate Solo so bad? What's Rey's deal? Brian argued that the film left so many things open that he felt it was incomplete and poorly done.



I believe that this "mystery" quality is essential to Star Wars. Look at the OT- they didn't give you EVERY SINGLE DETAIL. The story developed, with twists and turns, over 3 films! They didn't tell you EVERYTHING in A New Hope! Hell, they don't even mention Yoda! Yoda!! Let that sink in for a second... A New Hope left a ton of things open. You had to... dear lord... use your imagination. Like a book, YOU filled in the blanks- conjecture, rumor, friends arguing "what do you think Vader looks like" or "Why is Chewie with Han"... ANH lets you romp around in this universe in the midst of these events. It just goes full ahead- it doesn't spoon feed you all this micro (or even marco) details. I mean- listen to Kenobi "explain" who Vader is in ANH- its so brief and lacking all detail, and yet it works to get you interested.

The Force Awakens gets this. The Prequels tried to "explain" everything- Anakin's fall, the Emperor's ascension, the destruction of the Jedi, Trade Federations, etc. But the prequels went overboard on this- trade deals and taxes and a magical clone army that no one questions... But TFA doesn't fall for that trap. Like the OT, it drops you in the middle of the action- the opening crawl tells you all you need to know (compare TFA crawl with TPM- you can see the difference). The details- the background- are left open to YOUR imagination. That is a huge part of the fun.

But the lack of certain details also gives the next films latitude to maneuver. After all, you didn't learn that Vader was Luke's father till ESB. You didn't learn the identity of "another" till ROTJ. Characters like Han and Leia developed over the trilogy. ANH didn't lay all the cards on the table, and neither should TFA. They were wise in this instance- the mystery and blanks MAKE me want to know more. And that is essential to enjoying Star Wars.


Rey's Quick Guide to the Force

One of the criticisms I keep hearing is that Rey was able to use the Force way too quickly. At first I agreed with that, but then I paused a bit. I had to "unlearn" what I had learned- mostly from the Prequels. In those, it took YEARS to train Jedi in the Force. The Jedi believed in training infants- so that they could be brought up without attachment or other problems. It took decades for a child to become a Jedi.


But... that IS NOT what it was in the OT. Indeed, look at the facts. In ANH Luke meets Obi Wan. They talk about the Force. Obi Wan lets Luke use a lightsaber on a practice drone for 5 minutes. Before you know it, Luke is turning off his targeting computer and using the Force to guide his hand in destroying the Death Star. How long did he study with Obi Wan? A day or two? By ESB, some time has passed (but not THAT much), and you see Luke's skills are getting stronger (he pulls the lightsaber to him), without ANY training from Obi Wan- he has an intuitive feel for the Force (or, perhaps, it has "chosen" him). In ESB he trains with Yoda- but again, for how long? Even if you want to say the Falcon hid in the asteroid field for a week- or even a month (pushing it, but still)- that means Luke was training with Yoda for a short time as well. And yet, by ROTJ, Yoda says that Luke "knows that which" he needs... and surely Luke does things in Jabba's that Yoda didn't teach him.

In other words, one needs to forget the prequels a little bit. Luke, already older, learned things quite quickly. So Rey- similarly chosen by the Force- is able to wield it quickly as well. Now- I suspect Rey is either Luke or Leia's child, and hence is naturally gifted with the Force (again, a mystery). The Force gave her the power necessary to defeat Kylo Ren, as it gave Luke the ability to destroy the Death Star. Using the OT as the guide, you can see that it is very possible.

Snoke Spoke?

Another of the issues that some have had is that Supreme Commander Snoke is a huge mystery that is NOT at all answered in the film. He is obviously a user of the Dark Side, as well as the leader of the First Order (new empire). He appears to be 50 feet tall and is one of the few CGI characters in the film.


Now- who is he? Snoke is portrayed via motion capture by Andy Serkis- right there you should have some confidence. He is quite nasty sounding as he growls orders to his flunkies, such as General Hux. He appears to be huge- but they show you quickly that it is a hologram. Just as Palpatine appeared huge to Vader in ESB, so too does Snoke look enormous. But it is only a hologram image.

But- who is he? The character is evil, but with no background. This is on purpose, as it will no doubt be explored in the next films- you don't get Andy Serkis just to do a throwaway guy. So- here is where we go theorizing- I believe Snoke is none other than Darth Plagueis the Wise. This Sith Lord is mentioned by Palpatine as he tries to lure Anakin to the Dark Side in Episode 3 (the best of the Prequels). According to Palpatine, Darth Plagueis found a way to "create life" and "keep those he cared about from dying"- basically, he could "cheat death". It is HEAVILY implied that Plagueis was Sidious' master, and Sidious murdered him to become the main Sith Lord. It is also implied that Sidious did not know ALL of Plagueis' secrets. Suppose- Plagueis is like Yoda/Obi Wan- they have found a way to merge with the force upon death, becoming the so called "force ghosts". Spirits. But- let's say Plagueis did something similar- but instead of being spiritual, his rebirth was corporeal. He cheated death- AND the natural order of things- as Sith are wont to do.


In film terms, who can possibly be a bigger threat than Emperor Palpatine? Answer- the Sith who TRAINED Palpatine. Where's the evidence? First, Ren's line that his master is "very wise" (Darth Plagueis the Wise is what Paplatine called him). Then, there is the music. It is VERY reminiscent of the music in the Opera Scene- where Paplatine talks of Plagueis. It is VERY similar in tone. It isn't the same, but damn its close. In a meta way- if he is Plagueis, one of the few things they are going to take from the Prequels- what better way than to present him as CGI? That last one may be a stretch, but the other factors are just screaming that this is the solution. Now- I bet you have a different theory. Isn't this speculating a huge part of the fun?

The Heart and Soul of The Force Awakens

Now, I want to get to the "nitty gritty". Forget the action. Forget Starkiller Base. Forget the politics. All Star Wars films are about individuals (not all are Skywalkers) being confronted by these galactic problems. These characters are forced to make decisions on what to do when faced with the Galactic Civil War. Luke, Han, Leia, Lando- they all make choices and these decisions impact them personally, but also with wider implications for others. This is what gives Star Wars its real punch- not the space ships, but the drama. The inter (and intra) personal conflict. This is where TFA succeeds the most.


Han Solo and Kylo Ren are the heart and soul of the film (one could argue Rey- but hang on to that for a bit). When we left Han Solo in ROTJ, he was a rebel hero ("respectable"), and it seemed that he and Leia would live happily ever after. However, when we see him in TFA, he is back to his rouge-ish ways, and he and Leia aren't together anymore. Some grumbled about that- but heck, that's life. It takes twists and turns we don't expect. Life gives us happiness and tragedy at random sometimes. Who can say that Han and Leia would be exempt from that? Indeed, TFA wisely makes Han and Leia more human as a result- they are not the fairy tale couple. It's not "wonderful",  but it is more real.

Now, they were always bouncing off each other in the best of times- there was friction in their relationship from the beginning. But- what really broke them up as tragedy; a crisis of incredible magnitude. Their son, Ben Solo- known to the galaxy as Kylo Ren- has fallen from the light and is now the dark warrior of the First Order.


The film handles this brilliantly. Rather than reveal it at the last minute a la ESB, they tell you, almost off-handedly, that Han is Ren's father (it seems that it was only a secret to the audience). They reveal this about 1/3 of the way into the film, give or take. This is a great decision. They are not cribbing ESB with a "climactic" revelation. Rather, they have introduced an element of ongoing dread and tension. Will Han and Kylo meet? What will happen? What will Han do? The revelation early on allows it to breathe and permeate the whole film.

They make it clear that Ren was being taught by Luke, but was seduced to the Dark Side by Snoke. The details are sketchy, but I guess Snoke appealed to Ren's desire for "glory" (such as his grandfather had achieved). As a result, Ren turned, and did bad things- killing Luke's other students it seems. Han and Leia make it clear- once this happened, Luke blamed himself and vanished. Leia and Han's relationship fractured, and they broke up. The fall of Ben Solo to the Dark Side broke up the "trinity" of Han, Leia, and Luke.  It certainly wrecked Han and Leia's relationship. Han suggests that whenever Leia sees Han, she thinks of their lost son. Take the natural friction between these two (they always had a tumultous relationship), and add this sad loss of a son to evil, and their relationship breaks down. Han leaves and goes back to smuggling, and Leia buries herself in her work as leader of the Resistance. Frankly, this is a very realistic response to such a tragic event, and I give the creative team props for handling it so well.

One of the questions that many have asked is "Why does Ren hate his father so much"? In this respect I think they have it wrong. It isn't that Ren hates his father, though he does make a snide remark to Rey about it not "living up" to expectations. I would wager that Han was probably a pretty "cool" dad, but not as "successful" as a parent. Could you imagine growing up the son of Leia and Han? Lol

But seriously, those looking for the answer to the "hate" question have it backwards. In fact, Ren LOVES his father. Indeed, THAT is the conflict for Ren. On the one hand, he wants power, glory- to live up to the Skywalker heritage. But for Ren, the only way to achieve that power and strength is to turn fully to the Dark Side. Yet- how can one give oneself to the Dark Side if there is still love in your heart?


No- Kylo Ren / Ben Solo kills his father BECAUSE Ren loves him still. Ren wants to purge himself of the last vestiges of light. The only way to do this is to kill Han. To toss him aside totally and utterly. Ren struggles with that- even Snoke mocks him for it. On the bridge, the anguish isn't a ploy- the tears are real. He loves his father, but wants to be stronger than anyone. To achieve that level of power, he must strike down Han. Only then will be one with the Dark Side. Indeed, it is very telling that, after Ren fails to kill Rey and is defeated, Snoke says he wants to finish Ren's training. Snoke couldn't FULLY indoctrinate Ren until the last vestiges of light were extinguished. Killing Han accomplished that. Kylo Ren, I suspect, will undergo Sith training and will become Darth Something Something by the end of the next film.

There are a few things I love about this, and to me make up for any shortcomings with the rest of the film. First, it is an inversion of the Luke/Vader dynamic. Luke won't kill Vader because he is his father. Ren WILL kill Han because, well, he is his father. The killing of Han will cast a shadow over the rest of this trilogy. We (the audience) loved Han. How can we forgive his killer? Kylo Ren's completed fall has more resonance than Anakin's in the prequels, because, frankly, we didn't care enough about any of them. Here, it is different. This should be fun and moving to watch play out. Who would want to redeem Ren now?! Is he irredimable? What will his psyche be like as he grows stronger with the Dark Side, knowing that the cost of his ascension was so high?

The best part is how to complete's Han and Leia's arc. In ANH, Han is a criminal. A smuggler with very grey morals. However, as the OT goes on, Leia (and Luke to an extant) show Han a better, more noble path. People sometimes complain that Han was "softer" by ROTJ, but I felt that was a product of him loving Leia and thus, making him want to be a better man. I suppose that after ROTJ he tried his best, though Leia's "royal" attitude didn't make it easy for him. But, once Ben goes bad, and Han and Leia's relationship breaks down irretrivably, Han leaves. He goes back to his smuggler ways. Time passes- then he gets the Falcon back with Rey and the others desprately needing his help. At first, he rejects them (he offers to put them in pods and send them to the nearest planet). Then he tries to get Maz to help- but she chides him for it. Han is reluctant to get involved again. However, that changes when he sees his son take Rey. At that point he feels bound to go back to Leia and help.

Talking with Leia, Han suggests that their son is too far gone; as Han says, Ben has "too much Vader in him". Han thinks its hopeless. But Leia rejects that, stating that there is still light within their son. Han demurs, saying that if Luke failed, how could he succeed? Leia replies "You're his FATHER". As Han prepares to leave, Leia asks (begs) him to return home with their son.


So- now the bridge scene. Han sees Ren walking- he seems not to realize Han is there (is he too focused on finding Rey?). Han could have slipped past him, or maybe even shot at him. Instead, Han calls him by his birth name (that made my blood run cold). Han tries to bring his son back to the light. When Ren asks for his father's help- Han, looking encouraged, says "Anything". Ren stabs him then, but Han doesn't yell or fight back-he simply touches his son's face.

The irony is that Han did what Leia would have wanted him to do, and he died for it. Perhaps his first instinct was correct- Ren is too far gone. Yet, he still loves Leia on some level (that they never kiss is a sure sign of that, actually), and he still loves his son. So he tries, and he fails. However, in a different view, Han is redeemed once again, leaving his rouge ways behind and trying to fight for his family and the galaxy. A fitting but sad end for Han Solo.


Conclusion

I could go on and on- there are so many things in this film that deserve examination- Finn's transition from drone to hero. Luke's activities. Rey's background. The film has brought new life to Star Wars. The best praise I could give is that it felt like the OT and I can't wait to see where it goes next. The Force Awakens is fun, energetic, and exciting, but with a heart and soul (which the Prequels and many many other big movies lack). It was just a blast from start to finish. I plan on seeing it again (and again) in the coming weeks.

Until Next Time...




Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Mechanicus Trial Run and Apocalypse

Hey there denizens of the warp! Old Man Chaos is back with another update. I am super stoked for Star Wars- I just can not wait for that! Of course, I am still playing Fallout as well as doing some modelling. I even got in a few games the past few weeks too.


First, lets talk about the big Apocalypse game I played a couple of weekends ago. My friend Nick (whom I met at a tournament at our local over the summer) posted on Facebook that he was trying to get an Apoc game off the ground. I have fought Nick before, and he is an old school player in his technique. He has no interest in formations or anything wild. He is also a fun opponent, as he takes the game seriously but not THAT seriously. He is a cunning one, that is for sure, and I was eager to play him again. As it turned out the timing was perfect for me- I was available.


Nick asked if I could bring anyone else- and it turns out my Padawan learner Brian was also available. In the end, the game was to be 3 on 3- the forces of the Imperium against the forces of Chaos (as nature intended). No one could say how much to bring- so Brian and I were at 5K a piece, this way no matter what we would have plenty, and the others could bring what they wanted.




All, told, it was about a 20K point game (give or take). There were Baneblades, Knights, and my Lord of Skulls sallied forth. Man- the game was a ton of fun! Things were dying all over the place. Sadly, the Lord of Skulls only managed a few kills before being destroyed- he is a great model but NOT worth 888 points!! The best moment came when a single Maulerfiend destroyed an Imperial Knight in close combat. Brian was pissed! And I laughed, and then got a blood token!



The game was a lot of back and forth, and we played for hours! In the end, we decided to pull the plug- and the forces of Chaos were victorious! The win was so very sweet. But, win or lose, the game was just a complete blast. We posted pics on Facebook, and a bunch of people want to play next time. We are aiming for another Apoc game in January.



 I also managed to play my first game with my Mechanicus forces. The battle was against my old friend Joe. He hasn't played in quite some time (life getting in the way, as it does). However, things have settled for him a bit and he wants to give it another go. Sadly, his basement flooded and ruined most of his old stuff, so he had to start over. He decided to focus on his Dark Angels, and he has been busy assembling them and reading the new rules.


At any rate, as I prepared for our 1K point game, I decided to make 2 lists. One would be my standby Khorne Daemonkin. He hasn't faced them (obviously) and Imperiam versus Chaos just makes sense (again, as nature intended). But, looking at my Mechanicum, I saw that I had enough mostly painted to play, so I made that list (for the record, I consider Skitaii and Mechanicus ONE force, so I refer to it as such).


On the day of our game, I gave Joe the option- I basically let him chose. He decided to go with the Mechanicus, wanting to see something totally new to him. The game was held on 2 Realm of Battle boards (enough for our 1K point game). I couldn't help but smile at all the Terminators he was fielding- knowing that the Kataphron Destroyers would Grav them to death. But- should they survive, they would mop the floor with my servitors.


The game was fairly quick. The Destroyers (1x Grav, 1x Plasma) did SEVERE damage to his terminators, pretty much demolishing them. It was painful to see Joe wiped out like that. On the other side of the board, his units shot at my Kastellan Robots. They didn't fare as well, but I think I placed them poorly, and I had one CC and one shooty- I think they have to be all one thing in order to be used effectively. My Skitarii Rangers held against a lot of bolter shots. Finally, my Dragoons (a squad of 2) made short work of a Space Marine squad, and later his Chaplain. Yikes. +3 S on the charge is fairly nasty.



As i said, it was over fast. Joe swore revenge, saying next time he'd deep strike right by my Destroyers and take them down first. That is a real threat. And yet, I just can't get over how effective those Destroyers were. That many Grav and Plasma shots are just vicious. If I could make a whole solid gun line of them, they could take on any power armor / elite foe (not sure how they'd work on hordes like Orks or Nids).

Still, I cannot deny the effectiveness of the Mechanicus units. It plays VERY differently from what I'm used to (Chaos, at heart, is close combat oriented, and the Dark Eldar are all speed). I am looking forward to finishing more of my Mech stuff and using it in larger games.

Well, hope you have enjoyed the pics and "mini" battle report. If possible, I will post a review of Star Wars once I've seen it.

Until Next Time!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Star Wars Mania- Can One "Defend" the Prequels?

Hey there. I know its been a long time. I haven't posted in quite a while. It has been a confluence of events that have conspired against it. Work. Fallout 4. Family stuff. It has just kept me away from the interwebs. I have been painting my 40K stuff, and soon I'll be taking pics and posting them.


For my return to the Chaos Corner, I thought I'd have a little fun with a little film series called Star Wars. You may have heard that a new Star Wars is about to be released in a few theaters (LOL). But in all seriousness, I was introduced to SW at a young age. I wasn't born in time for the first, but I keenly recall seeing Return of the Jedi in theaters. I naturally had all the Kenner toys, and I dreamed of being a Jedi like Luke Skywalker. Or, in my darker moments...

Like Star Trek, Star Wars has been a huge part of my childhood, and my life as a whole. My heroes were Han Solo. Indiana Jones. Kirk. Luke. Yoda. Batman. GI Joe. Ghostbusters. And others. This was MY childhood, and Star Wars was a tremendous part of that. My family watched all 3 on VHS religiously. I clearly remember, in my college years, the excitement when they released the special editions in theaters- it was my first opportunity to see all 3 on the big screen. I remember frantically playing the N64 Shadows of the Empire game. Then- the anticipation of the prequels. Cinescape magazine had an army of Boba Fetts on the cover (looking back, they weren't that far off). The trailer. Darth Maul. Oh my...

Sadly, we all know what happens next. The prequels were, let's say, LACKLUSTER. Understatement? Hahaha. It seemed that George Lucas went off the rails. The films were filled with wooden acting, some weak dialogue, a forced romance between leads that had ZERO chemistry. I could go on, but as I said- we all know what happened. The prequels have cast a pall over the Star Wars universe (and franchise). Can the new film dispel those clouds? Is it fair to even suggest that it can? Perhaps no movie can live up to that.

However, are there any redeeming parts of the prequels? Are they, perhaps, not as bad as originally thought? Or maybe there are elements of the prequels that transcend the weaknesses of the whole?
Ha. The prequels are a mixed bag indeed, and there are some redeeming features to the prequels. I thought I'd discuss them a little bit, in no particular order:


Qui-Gon Jinn- As played by Liam Neeson, Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn is the very nearly ideal Jedi. He is exactly what you would expect (and want) them to be. Neeson belies Jinn's force powers with a warm, gentle personality. Neeson plays Jinn as an empathetic warrior. It is clear that Jinn cares about all life forms- big or small. In that respect he is like Yoda from ESB. Unlike Yoda though, Jinn showed the martial prowess of you would associate with a Jedi as well- a true guardian of the old republic. Neeson's performance is practically pitch perfect. He is the epitome of what you would like the Jedi to be.


For better or worse though, Lucas wanted to show the Jedi in the last stages of creeping decay. All of the Jedi come off as callous, aloof, uncaring at one point or another in the prequels. They basically have their heads up their asses. Even Yoda is neither wise nor particularly likable in much of the prequels because of this (though he and Obi-Wan do improve as the prequels wear on). While I get the idea of Lucas' intention, it made the Jedi practically unsympathetic. Lucas portrays them as a monastic order rather than knights, and it hurts.

I know I disagree with making Anakin a boy in TPM, but Neeson does a great job acting with the kid, never condescending or talking down to him, Neeson treats Anakin as he treats all others. Neeson also does well bouncing off McGregor's Obi-Wan. It would have been nice to see them on other adventures... but alas.

Throughout the prequels, Jinn was the only representative of what we all dreamed a Jedi would be. A hero who fought to protect the weak from the forces of evil. Someone with such power, but also very humane (and frankly, human). When he dies by Maul's hand, the pain is double. Plot-wise, you realize the Jedi and Anakin have lost something important and special. As a viewer of all 3 prequels, no Jedi will measure up to Jinn, and no actor will be as fantastic as Neeson.




Darth Sidious/Palpatine- If Jinn was the ideal hero, Palpatine was the perfect villain. By turns innocent, calculating, manipulative, honest, power-hungry, humble... The role required actor Ian McDiarmid to really run the gauntlet, and he does it very well- making what was a 2 dimensional bad guy in ROTJ into a malice-filled master villain that, ironically, you can't help but agree with (or perhaps slyly chuckle at) in the messy prequels.


In TPM, Ian McDiarmid plays the dual role to utter perfection. When he first appears as Darth Sidious, McDiarmid gives him just the right amount of evil- his voice and tone are not only perfect for the puppet master, he also makes damn sure that you KNOW he will be the Emperor- his manner is basically that of a younger Emperor from ROTJ. Later, when we meet him as Senator Palpatine, he seems perfectly proper and innocent.


Of course, so many of his lines have double meanings, and the actor just makes the most of it. McDiarmid nails the manipulation of the Queen to a tee. Forget Anakin- it is really Padme who gives him the literal keys to the galaxy with her "No Confidence" vote. His knowing look says it all.


While his role in Attack of the Clones is quite small (so he makes less of an impact due to the reduced role), he once again makes the most of the double meanings of his lines. However, it is in Revenge of the Sith that McDiarmid finally gets to let loose and chew all the scenery. At first Palpatine is just the brave Chancellor who is trying to save the Republic and a good friend to Anakin. But we know its a ruse, and little by little we see him twist the knife. His soliloquy in the Opera House is fantastic (what is true and what is a lie?)- the Jedi suck, they are powerless and selfish, unworthy of Anakin. His playing possum at a critical moment (the only scene where Sam Jackson's abilities are used properly).


By the time the Jedi are falling, McDiarmid really puts his foot on the gas and makes the new Emperor a cackling, homicidal maniac. But is this  only due to a flush of victory? Or is this what he truly is, freed of all masks and pretense? His battle with Yoda is one for the books, and McDiarmid's performance seals that deal too. He epitomizes evil for evils sake.



Order 66- the purge of the Jedi really should have happened in Episode 2, and it deserved time to be really developed. However, Lucas did give us an incredible montage of the Jedi being shot in the back by their erstwhile allies, the clone troopers. The montage shows several Jedi being taken out, some quite brutally.


The scene is too good for the prequels. It feels like it could have come out of the Godfather (the end "purges" in Godfather 1 and/or 2 are phenomenal and fitting climaxes). The music is mournful, the action is kept tight. There is no superfluous Dewbacks or Jar Jars. This is down and dirty political assassination. The purge is very well executed, worthy of ESB as a matter of fact. One wonders why Lucas could not have had that energy, emotion, and inventiveness throughout the prequels...



Lightsaber Battles- The Prequels really do blow the lid off of lightsaber duels and then some. Of course, everyone looks at the epic Maul / Jinn & Kenobi showdown. It is as epic as you can imagine, and stuntman/actor Ray Park is just legendary. The battle is frantic, hard hitting, and thrilling. The track "Duel of the Fates" just elevates the scene. The only problem is, since there is on history between the antagonists, the fight is just a fight. All other duels have an emotional core to them- the characters are connected in some way, making the duel MORE important. Here, it looks awesome, but is slightly hollow.


In Attack of the Clones, Yoda finally gets to show his skills in a battle against Darth Tyranus / Dooku. The new Sith is played by Christoper Lee-  a fantastic actor and in his day he fought a lot with swords on film; he was woefully underused by Lucas in the prequels. However, there is something thrilling in the tall and coldly proper Lee go against the whirling dervish that is Yoda. The scene had audiences on their feet in 2002. The duel had some emotional weight as it was revealed that Dooku was Jinn's teacher, and Yoda had taught Dooku! Wow- awesome stuff.


In Revenge of the Sith, the 2 duels at the end- Yoda vs. Sidious and Anakin vs Obi Wan are both fantastic, fitting climaxes. In the Senate Chamber, you can see Yoda's fear and frustration- how could the Jedi have not realized Palpatine was a Sith?!? And Palpatine- his plan has worked, he is king of all, he just has to defeat Yoda to take his crown. The battle is fantastic, with the Senate being crushed as both part of the action and as metaphor. Meanwhile, Anakin and Obi-Wan's battle in the midst of an inferno is also fitting, and there is plenty of blame, anger, and recrimination to go around. Obi-Wan winning at the end due to one of the most FUNDAMENTAL concepts in duelling is very proper- Anakin's power drunk attack showed that he lost something important (besides the battle), and he fell. Far. These fights provided a great way to end the sub-par prequels.


Conclusion- Unfortunately, the prequels never quite gel. It is frustrating, as Lucas does get some things right, but loses so much due to bad ideas and decisions. I personally enjoy the prequels, but I KNOW they are deeply flawed. Bad dialogue, humor that falls flat, bad acting, uneven special effects, etc. all combine to weaken the effort. Now, perhaps NOTHING could have lived up to expectations, but that doesn't account for it. I wish that Lucas had let someone else direct based on his ideas- such collaboration could have ameliorated the problems. Again, I can watch and enjoy the films, but they pale in comparison to the Original Trilogy. In the prequels, the Republic is a sham, the Jedi are arrogant fools, and Anakin is a whinny stalker. Now, I don't mind Lucas subverting expectations, but this just doesn't jibe with what he set up in the OT. That is the true nail through the coffin, as it were.


At any rate, we are less than a week away from The Force Awakens. I'll be seeing it Saturday evening with my wife, brother, and friends. I am keeping my expectations in check as much as I can. However, my hope is that it fits with the OT better than the Prequels did. Of course, if they are able to recapture the spirit of OT that would be perfect. And I still wonder if Snoke is Darth Plagueis? Lol

Until Next Time... May the Force Be With You.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Examining a Movie: Dawn of the Dead

Since Halloween is just around the corner, I figured I'd continue what I started in the previous blog. Last time we took a look at the horror classic, Night of the Living Dead. This time, we can take a gander at its sequel, Dawn of the Dead. So, away we go...



It wasn't long after I saw NotLD for the first time in my sophomore year at college that I naturally sought out George Romero's sequel, Dawn of the Dead. I got it on VHS- a 2 tape set. (Sadly, I got rid of it when I got the deluxe DVD version- wish I hadn't). And, if I thought NotLD was a masterpiece, well, let's just say I was just floored by DotD, and then some.

First, some disclaimers, once again. Like last time, you have to accept a few things going in if you're going to enjoy the movie. Once again, this is an independent film (one of the most successful of all time as a matter of fact). As a result, there are still some wonkiness to it, though nothing like NotLD. Further, Romero gives himself some free reign to put in a little bit of weirdness- some odd dialogue choices and such. To me, they only add to the "Our world has gone to hell" idea. Finally, the special effects- they were revolutionary for their time, but as compared to more modern fare they are lacking. Again- consider the time and how this was pioneering work. Last, you should know there are multiple versions/cuts of the film- the extended cut is the best one, and my review is based on that.

The same rules also apply- you should watch it alone or with a significant other (though this does work better than NotLD in having a fun group to watch it with- but still). It should be watched late at night and in the dark. Again- you want all the atmosphere that you can get. You won't regret it.

Spoilers below, FYI

So with that, let us now turn to my review:

Building on NotLD:

The first thing to recognize about Dawn is how it increases the stakes and the scale. This movie takes the ideas presented in Night and just expands upon them enormously, taking them to their logical conclusion. The zombie menace continues to grow. No one is safe, and the fight against them is taking its toll on both individuals and society. Things are starting to fall apart, as the zombies just keep coming. The movie shows this to great effect several times. The cops and National Guard raid a project in Philadelphia and chaos ensues. You don't see the rest of the city, but you just know this is what is going on everywhere. Many of the cops and lawmen are scared and can see they are fighting a losing battle. One goes crazy, shooting at everyone (zombie or not). Another commits suicide rather than face the hell that the world has become.


We are witnessing a world in it's death throes. Via what our 4 main characters see and what we see on the television, little by little we see the zombies taking over. When our heroes fly out of Philly, one of the bigger building has its lights still on, but they start going out quickly floor by floor- ominous. Once at the mall, where our 4 believe they are safe- we just see more and more zombies appearing. By the end, no one is airing anything on the TV, and there are more (ever more) zombies outside. It is very clear that there is almost nothing left. It truly is the Dawn of a dead world. The scale of this film is nothing short of epic.


The plot is once again straightforward, but is deceptive in its simplicity. Steven and Fran are a couple (not married but together) who work for a TV news station. They are seeing firsthand that the world is vanishing right before their eyes. Steven decides that they are going to "run". They plan to steal a traffic report helicopter and escape- to anywhere. But Steve knows that this is dangerous, and could use some help/protection. His friend Roger is just such a person. Roger is in the National Guard, equipped with a rifle and trained. Roger isn't sure he wants to "run", but after the horrors he sees in the projects, he decides to bolt. Before he does, he meets another guardsman, Peter. He offers Peter the chance to leave with him. The four then take off on the helicopter. It seems everyone is either dead or running out now.

Along the way, our heroes see the end of the world going down in flames, and they get into some tough spots, etc. Finally, just as their fuel is running low, they spot a shopping mall. They could stop, resupply if possible, rest, etc. But once in the mall, the group begins to think- what if they could stay? The mall has everything that they could ever need after all. If the world is a ruin, at least they can live out their last days in comfort and relative abundance. They just have to secure the mall from the zombies- a task easier said than done, naturally. What follows is a struggle to survive in the worst horror imaginable- a world of the dead, with no hope at all.


History:

Like Night, Dawn is very much a reflection of its times. If Night was a mirror showing how anxious Americans were afraid of the social changes of the 1960s, then Dawn does the same for the 1970s- showing America's growing cynicism, selfishness and detachment from the world's problems.

Let us start with the rather cynical attitude that was forming in the American consciousness in the 1970s. The decade starts off with a continuation of the problems of the sixties, though some of these problems have receded (not solved, just no longer at the forefront).  However, any chance that America might find some social peace falls apart with the Watergate scandal. Watergate, a word now synonymous with government corruption, rocked the United States to its core. President Nixon, who was elected by saying he would restore law and order, was basically caught doing many illegal things, and using his power to cover them up. The scandal lasted for over a year, till Nixon finally resigned. But the damage was done. Americans now believed the very worst of their elected leaders. To make matters worse, we seemed to be losing the Cold War. The Soviet Union was resurgent, and the Middle East was spiraling out of control. Oh- and of course the United States lost Vietnam ("When the dead walk... we must stop the killing, or we lose the war" is obviously a reference). It seemed we were powerless, and our leaders had failed us utterly. As a result, Americans treated their government with a cynical attitude (and, to varying degrees, have ever since).


America has long been known as the land of opportunity and the land of plenty. America generally had anything and everything a person could want or need- and in almost wasteful abundance. 2 cars in every garage? A suburban house with a pool? A color TV? Video computer games? You name it- Americans had it. Since the end of World War II, Americans were far more prosperous than just about any nation on earth. America's got it all. But by the 1970s, this was starting to change. The economy was starting to go downhill. It was known as stagflation- wages were stagnant but prices were inflating rapidly. People had no choice but to buy LESS because everything was going up. Further, gasoline became a major problem as on a few occasions in the 70s, the Middle East reduced oil production (the Oil Shocks). This hurt America even further. Americans wanted consumer goods, even as they couldn't afford them as they had in the past. This made Americans anxious and even selfish. Each American would scramble to "get theirs", and to hell with everyone else.


As these economic and political problems mounted, social issues remained unsolved as well. African-Americans, though they accomplished much in the previous 2 decades, found their Civil Rights movement was slowing down, and blacks now faced "softer" forms of discrimination. The feminist movement also challenged society, though the fight over abortion added new dimensions to this, tearing the women's movement apart. Americans, who seemingly had been through enough in the 1960s, had no stomach for all of this. America ignored these and other problems, essentially sweeping them under the rug. This was the era of Disco and Drugs- cynicism and selfishness combined- causing Americans to lose touch with these issues, and perhaps, their true selves.

As we shall see, Dawn does just what Night did a decade earlier. It serves as a nasty reflection of the 1970s. Our heroes act in selfish ways, and they are laced with cynicism. They believe (rightly) that no one can help them- government has failed, so they have to just take care of themselves. It is their (understandable) desire for goods and comfort that cause them to try to stay at the mall, despite the risks. It is their growing detachment that make them abandon the world to its fate. These 4 characters are Americans in the 1970s. We understand why they feel this way, even if we can't quite agree with/believe in what they are doing.

And the zombies? well, they are consumers too after a fashion, aren't they? With that in mind, let us turn to the zombies themselves...

The World Is Ending- and Its Bleakly Funny:

Indeed, once the characters get to the mall, the joke (and it is a bitter joke) is that the people taking refuge in the mall are just like the zombies- they are consumers, drawn to the mall. At several points, Peter, Steven, and Fran make it abundantly clear that the zombies are us. They still have some semblance of memory- and they remember shopping. As Steven says coldly "This was an important
 place in their lives".


The joke continues- as the zombies aimlessly walk around the mall, the connection couldn't be any more obvious. They walk around, looking at the merchandise, gently moaning or sighing as they move on to the next display counter. Even as humans run past them, many zombies continue to gaze about the mall, looking for that perfect thing to buy. The zombies are us- mindless consumers looking for the next purchase, with no thought for the morrow (or anything else, for that matter). This is clearly a satire. While Night wanted to scare with its apocalyptic scenario and tough moral choices, Dawn wants to scare, but it is also mocking us. The movie itself never becomes a joke (though one scene almost breaks the 4th wall), but it is poking fun at us nonetheless. The scares and thrills are still present, but there is satire as well, and Romero makes it clear for all to see. We are consumerist zombies, dead to anything else but the desire to "consume".


The main characters desire what is in the mall, but the pace is crawling with zombies (hostile shoppers?). Our heroes will have to kill ALL the zombies AND seal the doors in order to secure the mall for themselves. With almost clockwork precision, they go "on a hunt", shooting all of the undead and blocking the doors. As the hunt ends, the music becomes dramatic as our heroes look over the mall- the place is littered with the bodies of the re-killed zombies. It is a grim moment. You actually begin to feel bad for the zombies, in a twisted way. And our heroes actions- driven to such destruction for material comfort- is rather unsettling for us. But would we be any different?


But the joke isn't yet finished, for now we must consider the climactic final battle. And it isn't against the zombies exactly. Despite the fact that the world is quite dead, there are some scattered survivors. A new group descends upon the mall. They are "raiders"- bikers- some may be criminals, others ex-army. Whatever they are, they blow their way into the mall like marauders, plundering and destroying.  The zombies follow them in, leading to a brutal 3 way contest between our heroes, the raiders, and the zombies. The bikers act with a reckless abandon and brutality (and half crazed, judging by their actions), and they are better armed and better coordinated than our heroes. Within moments, the mall is a deathtrap for all involved, human and zombie alike. Though you love our heroes, you can't help but see what they did to the zombies is now what the bikers are doing to them. The bikers steal what they want and then run out (they apparently survive on the road). All the work our heroes had done to secure the mall now lies in shambles, and it can't be fixed. The zombies are in the mall once more, and our remaining heroes are screwed. It comes full circle now, both the plot and the satire. The humans are clearly WORSE than the zombies.


The movie certainly works as a satire of American consumerism and selfishness. The entire tone of the movie is filled with it; there is more humor here than Night (which is totally devoid of humor), but it is a black, gallows humor at best. The scene that almost goes too far is when the bikers take pies from a mall bakery and start to throw them at the zombies. The satire has now become absurdest comedy. However, before this zombie pie fight threatens to derail the movie into silliness, Romero wisely goes back to the horror of the situation, with graphic carnage on display at throughout the battle. However, the pie fight remains a wink and a nudge to the audience as to the true message of this film- our mindless consumerism is a cruel joke with no real point.


The tone of the movie is satirical, and in a way the actual filming itself was as well. Romero went all out here, with tons of neon bright blood spraying everywhere, big action scenes, etc. Again, there is more at play here. The movie is itself making a comment on "America: Our stuff is bigger and better"- thrilling action, buckets of blood, tons of zombies- everything is more more more. The movie takes on an almost comic-book quality with splashy scenes of stylized violence and incredible feats; Our heroes almost effortlessly cleave through the zombies in their initial purging of the mall, it could very well be an American action movie blockbuster. Again, this "super-size" approach makes not just for a great movie, but it also serves the satire of consumerism to a tee.

They'll Tune Out!!

Also serving for satirical purposes is Romero's strategic use of television. In Night, Romero understood that Americans looked to TV as a comfort. Even as America was becoming unglued in the 1960s, Americans could tune into Walter Cronkite  to reassure them, or tune into their favorite program to help them relax or forget their problems. Night used that to terrific effect, our characters watching the TV and taking comfort in the newsman's words.
 
Romero pulls yet another rabbit out of his hat for television's role in Dawn. By the late 1970s, Americans grew cynical about lots of things. As it turns out, TV played a huge role in that. As the news continued to push the issues of Watergate, losing Vietnam, and more- Americans became ever more jaded and bitter. By this point, Americans had had enough of the news. They turned away from it as much as they could. What's the news? Who cares- its all bad.


In our first scene, we meet Fran in the news studio of where she works. The place is chaotic, to say the least. The newscaster is talking to a government official about the zombie emergency. As the official makes his statement, TV crew members begin to yell and boo him- right on the air. Even the newscaster yells, saying that people don't believe the government ("... and I for one don't blame them" he shouts). More booing ensues. The guy can barely get a word in edgewise. It is clear from scene one that the people have lost all faith in the government. The booing studio workers certainly have Watergate on their minds. And remember- there is a crisis her of epidemic proportions- and they won't listen to the government.


But Americans have also lost faith in the media itself. Fran finds out that the "crawl" on the screen, showing "rescue stations", has out of date information. Most of those "rescue stations" have been overrun. Fran decides to stop the crawl- she doesn't want to send people to rescue stations that don't exist, as that would be sending them out to die. Her boss however, yells at her, trying to get her to put the crawl back on. Fran refuses. The boss says without the "rescue station" info the people will "tune out". Yes, he doesn't care that the info is inaccurate and could cause deaths. He only wants viewers. Right here, you lose faith in the news as well, reflecting American sentiment of the mid 1970s.


There is more though. The next time we see a broadcast, our heroes are watching TV in the mall- the news broadcasts have been getting further and further apart (unsettling in its own right). The person speaking is yet another government expert. He has an eye patch on (of all things), and he stands at a podium (where we don't exactly know) with the sound of flashbulbs and reporters grumbling. He yells at them, complaining about the reporters' criticism of him and the government. This is not comforting, to say the least.

The broadcasts become more infrequent. The next (and last) broadcast we see is the same expert talking to yet another news host. The background is a mess- a ladder, ratty curtains- its not so much a studio as it is a shambles. When the anchor asks what can be done, the expert says that the only solution may be to "feed them". Yes- this is the best solution our government has to offer apparently. The newsman criticizes this, but offers no other solution either. The expert, exasperated, asks rhetorically if humanity is "worth saving". Media and the government are both worthless now.

Toward the end of the film (before the bikers come in), Steven turns on the TV, explaining that he hoped that the news would be on again soon. There is only static on the TV. Fran says there's been nothing for a while. Steve refuses to listen, waiting for more news. Fran gets frustrated and turns the TV off. Steven, now angry at Fran, turns it back on. But the news never comes back. It must truly be the end of the world if there is no chatter on the boob tube. In Romero's hands, this is both terrifying and hilarious.

Characters and Fate

Whereas the characters of Night were closely aligned with the social challenges sweeping the nation in the 1960s, our main characters in Dawn are broader archetypes. Make no mistake, these is some reflection of the social issues, but it is more muted in favor of the satire of commercialism. Nevertheless, the foursome are just as compelling as those of Night.


Let's start with Roger. He is a National Guardsman who seems to have a bit of experience (he's no rookie). At the start of his first scene, he is about to breach the project that contains zombies with other Guardsmen. He talks to a fresh-faced partner, telling him to be calm. He seems to be a voice of reason. However, as he fights through the tenement he has several encounters (both with zombies and a Guardsman that has gone "apeshit") that nearly kill him. Yet with cleaver thinking he manages to survive.  As the plot progresses, Roger has more such close calls, and each time he finds a way to walk away unscathed. But the reality of the situation IS starting to wear on him- he becomes ever more reckless, thinking that he can't lose. In a way, he represents the "can do" spirit of America. Despite any trouble, America will prevail. Roger takes even more risks, and even laughs it off.

However, like 1970s America, Roger's luck seems to run out. He gets bitten twice after making several mistakes. He is now doomed to become a zombie at some point. However, he lingers, seemingly regressing to a more childlike state (shock? denial?). His end is a bitter one. He lays on his sleeping bag, being given injections for the pain. He is talking to Peter about how great they did clearing the mall ("We whooped 'em, didn't we?"). He then exclaims "We whooped 'em and now we've got it all"... he says as he lays in his own filth and sweat, 2 minutes from becoming a zombie. The camera angle and lack of music says it all- he is pathetic. When he does turn, Peter shoots him.  So much for having it all.


Peter is the other runaway National Guardsman. He is a large and physically imposing African-American. However, he is nothing like Ben in Night. Peter seems mysterious- and a little dangerous. Again, let us consider the time. At this point, the Civil Rights movement has dissipated, but there are still racial concerns. One of them is a new "trend" in Hollywood- the so-called "Blaxploitation" films. Hollywood thought it could capitalize on black audiences by making films supposedly aimed at them. These movies featured black heroes but were filled with all the stereotypes you could imagine- including "street" slang and "bad-ass" attitudes. The films were mostly silly though some found them offensive. However, this is the "black man" that exists in Hollywood. We are now in a strange place, and quite far removed from the quiet and thoughtful Ben.


However, while this image may "inform" Romero, but he never gives into it. He has Peter act like a tough man, with a threatening masculinity (more on that in a bit). He feels a deep connection to the people of the project. He refers to the people as "brothers". Fran even asks him if he means "real" or "street" brothers (to which he replies "both". However, Peter remorsefully acknowledges that he is leaving them behind). He uses some street slang ("sucka" and "bread" spring to mind). He has some knowledge of Voodoo (which is where the film's tagline "When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth" comes from). He hints that he knows how to preform an abortion (again, being from the rough streets with drugs and back-alley abortions). He could well be a "Blaxploitation" hero. He is fast and strong. However, his performance is very subdued, and he conveys much with a look, rather than bombast typical of blaxploitation character.

Romero also makes sure that Peter isn't just a black action hero. He gives him a lot of gray areas ("We're thieves and bad guys..."). Peter is the one who convinces the others to try to stay in the mall. Later, he clearly feels bad for his friend Roger. And then, at the very end, Peter considers suicide, rather than leave the mall (more on that in a bit).


Peter is a conundrum for our other characters, Steven and Fran. These two are a couple, though not married. The arrival of Peter is met with a bit of fear and frustration by Steven. On the helicopter, Peter sits next to Fran, and "suggestively" asks her if Steven is "her man". Steven is threatened by this strong black man- could he take Fran from him? Steven is a rather wimpy guy too- he can't shoot worth a damn. Roger and Peter show him up several times in front of Fran- though it is Peter who threatens to shoot Steven if he messes up again. Fran begs him not to, and Peter relents. Steven has been emasculated.


Steven does end up contributing, even acting like "one of the boys" as it were, though he is never as good as Peter. Meanwhile, Fran is pregnant and vulnerable. However, she doesn't want to be- she insists on being given a gun (and is actually a better shot than Steven). She also insists later in the film that she wants to know how to fly the helicopter, just in case.

 However, there is clearly tension in her relationship with Steven. He seems not to value her opinion, though Peter clearly does. Does Steven love her, or is he feeling trapped- due to the baby and the zombies? It is never clear. Toward the end, as the three (Roger is dead) settle down for life in the mall, Steven presents 2 rings to her. Fran declines, saying "it wouldn't be real". Fran has been the only person in the group to be against staying in the mall. After all, they are in the mall trying to forget everything, as if this were normal. She cannot accept that, crying out "What have we done to
ourselves"?


 So- what is their ultimate fate?  During the biker attack, Steven gets cornered by the raiders and is shot (though not killed). Trapped in the elevator, Steven is in pain. The doors open, and he is attacked by the hungry zombies. Peter hears it on the radio, and realizes there is nothing he can do. But, he hears Steven's gun. Is he alive or not? Peter goes back to Fran, and they wait.


Hours pass. And when the elevator doors open, Steven, now a zombie, is standing there- bloody and gruesome. As he wanders the mall, he "remembers" where they hid before, and he moves in that direction, with the other zombies moving with him. I love this bit- yes, it is zombie hunger. But- what if? What if he still has some memory. Does he think that Peter can now move in on Fran? Will Peter and Fran be the ones to live happily ever after- and NOT him? I like to think that IS what is happening- all the resentment and emasculation driving him to destroy them. Now, I know, he's just a zombie. But surely it is a tantalizing idea.


Steven enters where Peter and Fran are hiding. Peter shoots him once through the head. There is no time to mourn, as more zombies are coming. Fran is ready to leave, but Peter tells her to go on without him. He says he just can't go on anymore ("I don't want to. I really don't"). As Fran goes to the helicopter, Peter puts a gun to his head. A zombie breaks through- a young black zombie. Suddenly, Peter's eyes change- he refuses to die after all. He fights his way past the zombies, making it to the helicopter. The two fly off- though where can they go?


Peter's escape is slightly unbelievable, complete with "action" music one would find in the A-Team or something- full of bombast and heroism. How could Romero allow this- he who killed EVERYONE in Night? How could he let a sad suicide become a successful lunge at life? Is it that Romero is sentimental? Perhaps. Or maybe he just didn't want another nihilistic ending? However, it DOES go along with the satarization of America- we demand the happy ending in our entertainment. We expect it. So, Romero plays along (just as he has throughout)- Peter and Fran do escape. Yay!


But as the helicopter flies off, the scene gives way to the big clock in the mall. There are cobwebs on it- how long has it been? We never know. Instead, the viewer is treated to the sights and sounds of the zombies wandering the mall. They are everywhere. The credits play over the footage, as does the rather incredible "The Gonk" music (Mall Muzak as it were). As the credits end, the clock tolls. There is no life. No coda showing our heroes. Only zombies. They are truly everywhere. And where can our heroes go? While thrilling, Peter and Fran's escape is only temporary. Where can they go?

Conclusion:

Like the Godfather Part II and Empire Strikes Back, Dawn of the Dead expands upon everything presented in Night with incredible skill. The action is on a much larger scale, and the stakes couldn't be higher (for our heroes and the world). The nihilistic tone remains, but there is also a very effective satire, a one upping of Night in terms of complexity and meaning.


Dawn is a masterpiece of the horror genre. It is also THE zombie movie extraordinaire. Every zombie work made since (print, TV, or film) have been inspired by Dawn- this is the gold standard. This is the one they all aspire to be.

Until next time...