Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Walking Dead and Screaming Through Atlanta: A Television Review of Episode 2 (Guts)

Michael Rooker as Daryl Dixon
Director: Michelle Maxwell MacLaren.

Writers: Frank Darabont, Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard.

There was a lot to consider in AMC's "The Walking Dead" Episode 2. "Guts" showed zombie secret agents, the benefits of camouflage and a couple homages to other films. Lots of action occurred in under an hour and the only criticisms involve some overly complacent zombies and an overly dark villain. Why are the zombies so passive and apathetic after not eating for several weeks and where are Daryl Dixon's (Michael Rooker) redeeming qualities? These setbacks aside, "Guts" was a success and a joy to watch!

In case you are one of the few to not have seen the clip, central character Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) links up with a group of survivors in a department store. Thanks to Glenn's rescue, Grimes gets a second chance at life and here he takes a leadership role, to the detriment of the racist, sexist, coke using Dixon. In the department store the survivors are surrounded, but soon an escape plan is hatched with the use of a 3/4 ton truck and a zombie disguise. Deadite fans will have noticed similarities to other undead films in the past; yet taking a second look is time well spent.

The scene with Glenn roaring through the streets of Atlanta with a suped up Mustang is a page taken out of another book in a film entitled I Am Legend starring Will Smith. Either this is an homage, or Mustang is getting some great mileage through commercial advertisements in zombie genred films. As well, the loading of a truck at a department store of survivors is comparable to Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead. In both reels, survivors are unloaded or loaded at the back of the store, while under zombie attack. These two similarities were seen by this reviewer, but were there others?

From a technical standpoint there were few flaws, as director Michelle Maxwell MacLaren showed some interesting camera angles e.g. through binoculars, and sped up cut scenes. Also the action, conflicted interaction, and thrills were kept constant. However, the undead in the film seemed a little lazy, or overly dumb, as most of their time was spent hobbling from one leg to the other. This all changed in the final few scenes, with zombies attacking both Glenn and Rick with some finesse.

One other minor flaw involved painting the character Dixon a little too darkly. He is overly villanized and some of the best antagonists are those with good intentions, or flaws of their own e.g. pride. Giving Dixon so many negative qualities such as drug use, sexist remarks (the list continues) shows this character to be more of a cliche than anything else. But, viewers will be aware that Dixon is slated to return later in the episodes.

Overall, this was a really enjoyable time spent with some creative writing and great directing in a genre that deserves more attention. Thankfully, the AMC has announced today that there will be a Season 2 of "The Walking Dead" and so far this television series has shown that it deserves more footage. See this episode wherever available and leave comments on AMC's blog about how much you liked or disliked this episode.

Episode 2 details, including video footage, can be seen at the AMC blog below:

The Walking Dead at the AMC

*The car shown in Episode 2 is actually a Dodge Challenger. A double thanks goes out to DMass for cluing me in.

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