The shotgun blast of reviews for this film are baffling to me. But then again, it is important to remember that Diary of the Dead was initially trashed, Land of the Dead was moderately reviewed at best and Day of the Dead was initially hated (and is now considered a fan favorite).
With that said, here is my take on it, for what it is worth...
This movie does differ in tone than many of Romero's other films. Certainly not as heavy or serious as Diary of the Dead intended to be or Land of the Dead mostly was. When a National Guard Soldier blows the head off of a zombie (in, albeit, a pretty cheesy CGI effect) in the first few moments of the film, my brain did not go into "This movie sucks" mode as so many others seemed to. My brain went into, "Ah! Just like Dawn of the Dead! This movie is a romp!" Like most competent Directors (and I consider Romero VERY competent as a film director, not to mention Indie film hero), Romero shows us what HE wants us to see and he always has a reason for doing it. That head-blowing-off scene was there for a reason. Several people, I feel, just didn't understand the reason.
I personally feel, many fans of any artist (regardless of medium) begin to form a very rigid idea of what that artist's work is, especially when they come to most of that artist's work after it had been completed (or are young fans as I was). And when said artist creates something new, sometimes fans struggle with the interpretation.
What is unique about this film despite its lighter overall tone(and I feel most critiques missed) is that here we have multi-layered social commentary with a subtle complexity not normally seen even in most Romero movies. The initial question: Should we keep our loved-ones "alive" as-it-were as zombies, hoping for a cure? Eventually devolves into the nature of humanity and its ability to hold grudges far past rationality, common-sense and sanity. Even one of the last lines in the film and the decisions Sarge makes defy reason but are sadly believable from the frame-work of the human mind. The social commentary Romero is known for is here and more complex than ever!
The more I think and reflect on this film the more I realize this is one of Romero's very best in what he has to say about humanity and it is VERY relevant to the times. This film, despite its lighter tone, is a tragedy of the human spirit. It is full of potentially good people making bad decisions, even in the final frames, albeit in a fun and entertaining way. Much like our modern world, in that as we are faced with serious issues and many more serious ones on the horizon, we choose look away, not taking it as seriously as we should and continue to make the wrong choices because we are too rooted in our past. So are the characters in this film.
One final note: If you are a Romero fan, to heck with bad reviews!!! At the very least you owe Romero one viewing of this film, love it or not. This artist created an entire sub-genre of horror and he continues to make films outside of the Hollywood system! This fact alone should guarantee a fan's price of admission. Okay, I'm getting off the soap-box.
I enjoyed this film and when I purchase the Blu-Ray I will continue to enjoy this film. I am grateful Romero is still making movies (especially the zombie ones although I am a huge fan of Bruiser as well) and I hope Romero continues to make more.