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  • Cantankerous Panda

Zombieland

Posted by Cantankerous Panda on January 15, 2010

ZOMBIELAND (2009)

One thing about me is that I’ll rarely turn down a zombie flick (not to be confused with a Zombie flick, as in Rob Zombie– I’ll always turn those down). Zombie flicks that mock the genre? Even better. Shaun of the Dead is one of my most favourite horror movies (and movies, in general), and I also adore The Evil Dead Trilogy (Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness) and Dead and Breakfast. Re-Animator is quite fun, as well. Zombieland fits pretty well into this group of hilarious horror films.

Zombieland gets off to a quick start: The world has already been mostly zombiefied, so we’re past the outbreak and mass-hysteria stages of the typical zombie films. I appreciate that change, as sometimes it really doesn’t matter how it happened. This leaves more time for zombie-killage. Director Ruben Fleischer employs a few gimmicks that are much more blatant than one would normally find in zombie films, which is interesting because those gimmicks are pretty damn blatant to begin with. The film constantly reminds you of a number of “rules” that are necessary to live by in order to stay alive. This is done in a very “in your face” approach that bothered my movie-mate, but didn’t really get to me. I appreciated the rules, though, because all zombie flick fans have a list of things they claim they would and wouldn’t do if faced with a zombie apocalypse. The rules also cover a lot of things that we (zombie fans) typically get all pissy about when we watch other horror films. I appreciated the nod.

After we get into the rules, introduced to us by the ever-lovable Jesse Eisenberg (how much do I adore this kid?), we basically go on the whirlwind tour of “how to survive a zombiescape while driving across the country”. As ‘Columbus’ (Eisenberg) goes on, he meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), and eventually stumbles across ‘Wichita’ (Emma Stone, Eisenberg’s love interest) and ‘Little Rock’ (cutie-pie Abigail Breslin). In this world, you don’t have a name– you have a city of origin. This helps to keep people at arm’s length, too, because they will most likely die sometime soon. The film covers the well-worn ground of trust issues and backstabbing incidents that come up when it’s an “everyone for themselves” sort of world, but it’s not terribly frustrating here. It also begs the question of priorities– what would be on the top of your list of things to do if everyday you’re just working on survival? What would your one “have to have it” weakness be? And a cameo by the ever-wonderful Bill Murray, who is as hilarious as ever, only serves to help the film.

I like the tone of the film, and I think the jokes work, but I have to say that for a film called “Zombieland” that starts well after zombies have taken over, there’s not nearly as much zombiekilling as I had expected. I really thought that Harrelson was going to be going to town on zombies constantly. That might have been the fault of the promos for the film. Now, I’m not saying that there’s not enough zombiekilling or that it’s not satisfying– it is. I was just surprised that there wasn’t as much z-killing throughout the film as I had been led to believe. That doesn’t really matter, though. The film is fun and has enough ‘surprise’ moments to keep you jumping.

Do I recommend this film? Yes, especially for those who like horror films (and enjoy lovably mocking them). With strong performances, somewhat unconventional aspects thrown into a conventional zombie takeover, and a witty and sometimes ridiculous script (in a good way), I think this film is a solid pleaser for this genre. It’s not quite Shaun of the Dead, but it’s still pretty good. Also, I LOVED seeing Abigail Breslin in a role that wasn’t just cutesy and aw-filled. She was surprisingly mature (as I would imagine would be the result of a child being thrown into this kind of situation) and was great, as always. I adore this girl.

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4 Responses to “Zombieland”

  1. Kaevik said

    Good review. Although I like it more then Shawn of the Dead.

    • Cantankerous Panda said

      Really? I thought that Shaun of the Dead had the most impeccable mix of horror and comedy, and it really threw pie in the face of typical zombie film conventions. It’s also a wonderful showcase of what would happen if an ‘Average Joe’ found himself in that scenario: he’d fuck up. A lot. Plus I adore the humour, in general :P. But Zombieland is still a really good movie, even though I don’t think it’s as satisfying as Shaun of the Dead :P.

      Why do you like it more?

  2. Cadderly said

    Loved this movie.

    I thought the way they wrote the “rules” in the movie was fantastically witty. Not only did they list them up front, but then throughout the movie, they would flash up. Your mind moved on, but all of a sudden “DOUBLE TAP” would come up and just make you laugh. I thought it was quite clever.

    I loved Woody Harrelson in this and even though it was a “fun” movie, I really found an emotional gem of a scene after you realized that when you thought he was talking about a puppy that died, he was actually speaking about his son. It’s almost like all the comedy and the fun of the movie just got very serious and you really empathized with why he was the way he was. He was simply not concerned with living any longer, but perhaps he found something to live for now with his new “family”.

    I found Jesse Eisenberg to be a perfect fit, though he reminds me a LOT of Michael Cera. Not only the method this character/acting, but even his stature and voice. I do find him to be more charming than Michael and really a perfect fit for this movie.

    I also expected way more hack-n-slash than was actually in the movie. I expected a LOT of zombie killing, but it really was just hit one or two here and there and then a grand finale at the end.

    Overall a fun movie and would also recommend it.

    • Cantankerous Panda said

      I find Eisenberg to be more engaging than Cera in a lot of ways. I don’t know what it is, but I feel like he has more character or depth to him. Michael Cera is ONLY the bumbling dork boy– Eisenberg has some spunk to him :P.

      Yeah, the bit with Woody’s son made me tear up, but you need a bit of heavy emotion in these kinds of movies, specifically ones filled with zombies and the impending “end of the world”. It’s a reminder of humanity when faced with these non-human creatures and all. Yeah, it’s not necessary to bog a zombie flick down with huge amounts of drama, but even the silly ones requires a dash of hard-hitting emotion (even Shaun of the Dead had that).

      I do think it could have used a bit more zombiekilling, though. I mean, really… it’s CALLED Zombieland. YOu’d think it would be more… land filled of zombies with lots of killing :P.

      Thanks for the feedback again! I’m glad you’re enjoying the reviews :).

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