This film is one of my most eagerly awaited of the past five years. Ever since the rumours started that Romero was planning a fourth film in his Living Dead series, the project took on an almost mythical aura. Would it ever be completed? Did Romero still have the director chops to pull it off? With the film finally here, the result is a mixed bag: while still an interesting and entertaining film, Land of the Dead is not nearly as groundbreaking or thought-provoking as the films it follows.
To begin with, the film doesn’t feel like the end of a saga; it feels more like a continuation of a series. This is fine if Romero plans another few films in the series to wrap it up in epic style. If this is the last Dead film, however, there’s nothing here that serves as a fitting end to the legacy. The scope of the film doesn’t seem as vast as even Day of the Dead, for instance. The city doesn’t come across as the last refuge of humanity and the world doesn’t seem overrun by the dead.
The zombies themselves are problematic as well. Though KNB EFX Group did a good job on the zombies, the ones seen fifteen years ago in the remake of Night of the Living Dead were more impressive. All the zombies look alike; they all resemble Bub from Day of the Dead. The main zombie protagonist, Big Daddy, rather than seeming clever and menacing, comes off as annoying and silly.
The human performances are mostly good, with Leguizamo a standout. Hopper seems like he’s in another film, a horror comedy. Asia Argento seems to add little else to the film other than sex appeal.
While not a horrible film (it’s actually quite a good zombie film), Land of the Dead doesn’t live up to its predecessors and ends up slightly disappointing. Perhaps if Romero makes a fifth film in the Dead series we’ll get the ultimate end to the zombie epic that this film should have been.