Monday, October 19, 2009
Movie Review: Zombieland
Okay so I know I am few weeks late to the Zombieland train but I finally managed to catch a showing this weekend and I am glad I did. This film is easily the best zombie movie since Shaun of the Dead. It has a really funny blend of humor, action, gore, violence, and heart that really makes the picture work. It plays up to all the great strengths of the zombie film genre, it's got a little scare, but it treats the material very tongue in cheek, it doesn't let itself stay to serious for very long and it consistently finds a really great balance.
The basic premise is that a zombie virus has infected the world, which is spread through biting or exposure to the bacteria. Most of the world, now called Zombieland, is overrun with the undead. There are only a few survivors left and this film focuses on 4 of them. The narrator for the film is Columbus, played by Jesse Eisenber (most notably from Adventureland), an isolated young survivor who lives by sets of rules in order to survive. He is a very nerdy and shy person, the unlikeliest of survivors (which he freely admits to) who is alive solely because he lived an isolated life even when there were people around. After a zombie attack ruins his car, he meets up with Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) who is a hard charging fighter who loves killing zombies. They make an unlikely team as each is heading to a different destination, when during a pit stop at a grocery store, they meet two sisters. Wichita and Little Rock (Emma Stone from Superbad and Abigail Breslin from Little Miss Sunshine).
After being conned by the two girls, Tallahassee and Columbus find another truck and chase them down, only to be tricked again. Despite the auspicious start, the four travel together heading West and during the time, begin to form a small bond. They make it to Hollywood, where they hole in in a Hollywood mansion (and maybe score maybe the best and funniest celebrity cameo of all time). Wichita and Little Rock are headed to an Amusement Park near there, as they have heard its a zombie free area. Columbus and Wichita start to get close, which scares her as she has lived her whole life solely depending on her sister. They take off for the Park alone, leaving behind the two boys. Columbus has to decide if he should follow his strict rules, or his heart, and track them down.
Overall this is one of the better films I have seen this year, funny, great production value, and well written. The actors have just the right amount of humor and pathos, and really draw you into each character. Woody Harrelson is fantastic as Tallahassee, really returning to that leading man form he had back in the mid 90's. He is smart, funny, totally unpredictable, and its great to see him really commit to such a role. Emma Stone probably made herself with this film too, playing a moody tough girl with a great sarcastic wit, I can see big things for her in the future. Eisenberg is very funny, though kind of comes off as a poor man's Michael Cera as the nerdy insecure hero type, a role Cera has made a monopoly of the last few years. He captures that winning loser mentality though and makes the role his own. Abigail Breslin also does a good job playing the younger sister, finding great humorous banter with Harrelson, and having just the right blend of youthful innocence and hardened reality (having seen so much death at a young age).
The film was pitched originally as a TV series, but I think the job they did creating this as a movie works. It's something I could defiantly see a sequel too, and really marks its own space in the zombie genre. It really takes the idea or the theme that Shaun of the Dead started with, and expands it. It's comedic, but not just a comedy, it's gore and horror, but not a fright fest. It's fun. It's a gentle reminder of the fact that movies can be fun bits of escapism, but not just be saddled with terrible stories or effects. You don't need a 100 million dollar budget or CGI gloss to make a great movie, a little heart and a lot of fun go a long way.
This is a film you should certainly treat yourself too during this Halloween season. I had so much fun with this movie, and I don't want to ruin the celebrity cameo, but its maybe the funniest scene in the movie. It's worth it for that sequence alone. Head out, have fun, and watch Zombieland. I guarantee you won't regret it.
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