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Tame of The Dead: Zombieland Review

 

Zombieland

Zombies have once again turned the world into a Grade-D meat factory in the horror-comedy "Zombieland.” The title comes from the planet's new name, where the undead virus has left the survivors to wander about searching for somewhere or something to pursue.

Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg, who loves being in movies with the word "land" attached to the title) is the most unlikely to remain unbitten by zombies. Lanky and unimpressive, Columbus blasts away at the undead with a shotgun that’s as big as him. However, his insecure, cautious personality has made him more competent to deal with the walking dead than he ever was with the actual living. He avoids becoming Zombie Chow by following his own strict survival rules, whether it’s the prevalent "Good Cardio" to outrun the spry zombies or the cowardly, but rational "Don't be a hero” move.

This movie could have been called "Annie Hall-With Zombies,” since Columbus IS Woody Allen trapped in a gore-fest, only lighter on his feet and sans the courting skills that lands Allen a surprisingly amount of women. Yes, unlucky with the opposite sex, Columbus roams alone with an unfulfilled love life and a defacto goal of reaching home in, you guessed it, Columbus, Ohio(all the characters are named after cities).

On the road, Columbus encounters loose-cannon Tallahassee (played by loose-cannon Woody Harrelson), whose gun-ho attitude immediately clashes with Columbus' annoying reservations. While Columbus appears to carry a rear-view mirror around him, Tallahassee would not hesitate to acquire what he covets most: a bite of a Twinkie. However, Tallahassee makes up for his recklessness with his ferocious zombie killing skills, doing for banjos what MacGyver did for harmless office supplies.

Forging a temporary partnership, Columbus and Tallahassee encounter the conning siblings Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin). After a couple of standoffs with the girls, the camps decide to join forces until each reaches their destination (for the sisters, that’s a theme park in California). When the quartet is not chopping zombies heads off or entertained by senseless, yet gratifying, acts of vandalism, a bond begins to build. Tallahassee has a fatherly vibe with Little Rock and Columbus is infatuated with Wichita. This growing affection challenges Columbus and Tallahassee’s goal of saving their own skins when the girls head toward the amusement park, culminating in a humorous and blood-splattering last act.

Bitter Balcony had planned to review "Zombieland" the weekend of its theatrical release, but we needed some time to figure out how we felt about this film, since it is THE GREATEST COMEDY EVER MADE (sarcasm, anyone?). Indeed, general consensus about the horror-comedy has been more than favorable – cementing cult-classic fervor with franchise certainty. But, the idea of a major studio backing this type of movie without having the filmmakers sign off all their liquid assets is either a milestone for how far the undead have reached, or a bad omen for a genre that's about to lose its insatiable appetite.

"Zombieland" could be seen as the first zombie film to achieve true mainstream success, a $25 million box-office opening is probably more than what George Romero's "Dead" series ever made. A modestly clever screenplay written by Rhett Reese and Paul Warnock unearths the basic principles of the zombie decree with gags fit to satisfy audiences that don't care for the flesh-eaters or might become fans after this movie. “Zombies for Dummies” perhaps. For Zombie Purists, their feelings for this movie will likely range from amused to severely disappointed.

Ruben Fleischer 's direction matches the script's spunk, filled with frat-boy aggression and occasionally well-timed ideas as evidenced in Columbus' survival rules showing up when he needs them. While loaded with euphoria and a reasonable concern for its characters, "Zombieland's" shortcoming, for all its gore, is pulling its punches in the most crucial foundation: Zombie movies, even comedic ones like Edgar Wright's 2004-great "Shaun of the Dead", should never have you leaving the theater thinking, “Well, that was cute.”

While the interactions between the characters are funny, it is even funnier how conveniently zombieless those situations are, especially when the movie is named "Zombieland.” There is a low-risk element here compared to other zombie movies: The "Dawn of The Dead" protagonists needed glass doors as a shield, and the "Shaun of the Dead" crew had a bar as a barricade, but in "Zombieland,” the mansion where the characters spent a third of their time has no trench to protect them since there's no zombie in sight. This observation might seem minimal, but the constant threat of being a just one mistake from being devoured raises the stakes, regardless of the movie being a comedy or not. "Zombieland" is fun but not enough to make it memorable and we don’t understand its excessive praise. "Zombieland" is equivalent to drinking decaf coffee, retaining the flavor but extracting the jolt.

Images:

Trailer:

Official website:

Zombieland

Credits:

Directed by: Ruben Fleischer
Written by: Rhett Reese, Paul Warnock
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone





Source of the Bitter: John Rojas

Comments, rants and other stuffs below
JAS on Sun, 10/18/2009 - 4:47pm

I just finished watching this and I can say that I got exactly what I was expecting. While that is usually a good thing, I am left a little disappointed that I didn't like it more than I did.

How do you guys/gals feel about Harrelson as an actor? He has the one character that he does, but I can't help but feel there may still be some talent hidden deep down in this man. Of course, I could be totally wrong this could be the only thing he is capable of.

This is one of those people should see on video... if there is nothing else.

Que on Sun, 10/18/2009 - 10:19pm

Harrelson definitely does that one character well, i mean, very well. from natural born killer to zombie land. I like him. I mean, one trick is better than No trick, right? and he did have fun in that 'anger management'.

toward the potential I think it is rather I Hope he has more talent down the path. He doesn't look like a multi-faced man yet, but at least to his only exposed trick, he is not abusing it. for that I like him more than Nicolas Cage and John Travolta.

JAS on Mon, 10/19/2009 - 8:35am

I wonder though if the success of this movie will get him stuck in that one character and have him doing it in a whole bunch of lame films. I guess I'm just preparing for the worst, which is likely ahead.

Furthermore, he has been working for a while now. Shouldn't he have shown some other facet to his acting chops by now?

I do agree that one good character that isn't overused is better than anyone who plays themselves out.

Que on Mon, 10/19/2009 - 3:12pm

I dont think this movie will do to Woody what Aliens did to Sigorney or Underworld did to Kate. Sure he had a few moments chopping or off-loading to the zombies but yet the high light to the audience were supposed to be girl cons. sure thing if we have sequels they will all be returning but the movie is not signatured by him. and that is probably a good thing for him and for us.

Woody has MAD eyes and cute boyish smile, plus his lazy, sit-back accent, which is saucy combination for large portion of lady audiences. i just hope he doesn't over use and spoil it. He can carry his charm for long time if he use it smartly. Nic Cage had similar thing too at the early time but now he is just big turn-off.

JAS on Fri, 10/16/2009 - 9:45pm

I think zombedies should be left for indies though. Indies are more willing to take risks that are required to make these movies work. The jokes are pretty stale already, but I can still see myself laughing hardily if someone was to write them the right way.

Que on Fri, 10/16/2009 - 8:27pm

zomedy movies are easier to make successful because:

all the background theories, like Zombies' life habits, head damage to kill, low IQ, etc. are all pretty well established. thus the new movies don't have to waste time on those issues, can directly dive into the meaty part. These over-exploited factors also prepare audiance to be light-hearted toward the blood and gore and making it easier to be funny.

and it is harder to actually be successful because:

all the jokes has been used up.

unless the movie can develop new jokes or work harder on the personalities of the heros, repeatedly making zomedy has little point. who still think Scary Movie 4 is funny and fullfilling these days?

Que on Thu, 10/15/2009 - 9:47pm

this is actually the movie that I finished, felt liking it, wanting to write a review but found that I have nothing to write. whilst it is great entertainment and all that, there is just a pinch of funny taste to the movie making it less original, and the ending isn't very comical enough to my liking.

I guess in terms of marketing success Shaun of the dead is still on top of my list for this genre.

JAS on Fri, 10/16/2009 - 3:22pm

I think it will be hard to top Shaun of the Dead in this category. It had the right idea and knew that in zombie movies characters have to die.

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