What's most admirable about this most recent zombie-crushing comedy is that it knows exactly what zombies are meant for: killing. Funny, creative and most of all low-budget killing. Rookie director Ruben Fleischer and Columbia Pictures capture that essence in the quick but fun Zombieland, a post-Zombie infection apocalypse action comedy with a small cast and a whole lot of make-up-covered stunt people.
To be frank, there's nothing that will blow you away completely in Zombieland, it's just all executed very well and the story satisfies despite cutting short its character arch and development. Action-wise, Fleischer I'd dare say one-ups Zak Snyder on the slow-motion technique. He holds little back when delivering some of the more gruesome zombie kills. He'll definitely get some potentially lucrative directorial offers with the success of this film, no doubt.
The characters are strong but if anything is lost in the film's barely even an hour and a half run time, it's them. Jesse Eisenberg's neurotic virgin unlikely hero only really learns to grow a pair and Woody Harrelson's Tallahassee has both the conscious and subconscious desire to find a Twinkie. Although writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick allude to some good ideas about how a character would feel being one of few survivors in a barren and zombie- polluted United States, namely a person who was anti-social to begin with, no relationships in the film come out of the oven beyond medium-rare.
In truth the cast is great. Eisenberg is better than Michael Cera at the dorky hero who manages to get the hot chick and Emma Stone is one of the actually talented young "hot chicks" working today. Add Harrelson and Breslin and kudos goes to whoever made the casting decisions. With barely any other characters, a lot falls on them to be real and interesting and as actors, they're all the types who avoid being shallow.
What makes Zombieland likable in the end, however, is creativity. An ending sequence of Harrelson taking out zombies in an amusement park is just good imaginative thinking by Reese and Wernick. Say what you want about zombie-killing scenes, but you don't feel like you're watching something you've already seen. They understand location is everything in these kinds of films (shopping mall in "Dawn of the Dead" anyone?). A trip to Hollywood to stay in a famous actor's mansion is another example of outside the box.
Zombieland treads the respectable middle ground of delivering quality examples of what it promises and not going too much for glitz and mindless action or the other extreme: shooting way high for excellent character development and drama. The cast and the writers appear capable of that next level, but instead we get more entertainment factor, which is fine considering the entertainment is creative.
Zombie genre fans, comedy fans and quirky/creative film fans will all find something to really enjoy out of Zombieland, one of the better entertainment-driven thrills of 2009.
Directed by Ruben Fleischer
Written by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrleson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin
Other Player Affinity reviews:
Chris thought: "Zombieland
helps give CPR to dead genre that is Zombie films. Over the last few years the Zombie film genre has gone as sour as the dead itself. Finally we get something that will give us hope it will stay alive, no pun intended. The Zombie genre came back in 2003 with Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later
. The big highlight in the horror comedy genre was of course, Shaun of the Dead
. This had that dry British wit we all know and love. If you have ever read The Zombie Survival Guide
by Max Brooks this is something you have to see." Rating: 10/10
"I will always be a die-hard fan of zombie films from the classics such as Brain Dead
to the newest entries such as 28 Days Later
. Horror comedies, moreover, require a deft hand. The wrong approach can result in either a comedy that has too much gore and terror, or a horror movie that loses its edge due to self parody. Zombieland
gets the zombie aspect bang-on, and strikes the pitch perfect note for a spoof. From the fantastic opening credits to the slow-mo action and stylized approach to the narrative this "zomedy" is a blast through and through. A perfectly cast Woody Harrelson elevates it all as a zombie-killin’ Twinkie-munchin’, shoot-‘em-up cowboy and three rising stars in Abigail Breslin, Jessie Eisenberg and the gorgeous Emma Stone round out the cast. Zombieland
is not surprisingly compared to the equally fantastic British export Shaun of the Dead, but nothing is borrowed and both have ample, unique charm. Even if you don’t consider yourself a horror fan, this may just be the movie to turn you around. Rating: 9/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 9/10