From my review of Day of the Dead you will have seen that I'm not overly keen on Bub. Romero took the zombies even further in this one: they can communicate, use tools and act as a cohesive group. How long will it be before they can quote Jean-Paul Sartre and discuss the finer points of cigar smoking? As the zombies become more human they become less like zombies. Obviously.
Some films have taken zombies down an almost vampire route so it's worth asking what makes a zombie scary or horrific. I think that it's weight of numbers. They can move slowly. It's not a problem to them. Eventually they will get you. They've got all the time in the world, just to wait for their opportunity. Zombies work on the inevitable dread factor. They don't need any fancy embellishments.
Anyway, back to the film. Humans have grouped together in camps to survive the apocalypse: some in shanty towns and some in posh high rise buildings. Amazingly enough zombies want in. This time they are organised and have a leader in Big Daddy. I'm making that sound a lot better than it is. It's not the Big Daddy off Saturday morning wrestling but a low quality impostor. He doesn't even wear a wrestling vest.
Simon Baker, as Riley, is a fairly bland lead after the previous films. But my main problem with Land is the inclusion of known actors. The previous films benefitted from an unknown cast and seemed more realistic (as realistic as a zombie film can get). Here we have Dennis Hopper and John Leguizamo acting around being actors and generally acting about spoiling things. They brought me out of the film on numerous occasions. The Tom Savini cameo also seems out of place in a Romero zombie film.
I saw this when it came out at the cinema and the only image that I could remember from it, before I watched it again, was a shot of the zombies walking underwater to cross the river. It was easily the best bit of the film. But it's not in the actual film. Is my memory mixing this with Pirates of the Caribbean to produce a hybrid of Land of the Pirates? (Sounds good to me.) The shot that is in the film looks more like they're wading across a shallow stream.
It all feels a little bit like a TV movie. But I'll give the next two entries the benefit of the doubt when I tackle their reviews. It shows how Land of the Dead killed the series for me as I haven't seen Diary or Survival yet. We'll see...
(Average rating for the season so far = 6)
If you like this you could also try:
Dawn of the Dead (2004), Day of the Dead.