Saturday 10 October 2009

Review: Zombieland

Year: 2009
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Screenplay: Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin

Plot synopsis is here

For the last few days I've been ridiculously ill, with today was the first time I was able to drag myself out the house if only to the cinema briefly (no popcorn as it might up back up again) to watch Zombieland (such is my passion for film). I'm glad my half dead ass managed to make it to the cinema in order to watch these full dead asses terrorize Jesse Eisenberg and co.

While they've always been with us since Victor Halperin's White Zombie (1932), it was 2002's 28 Days Later which appeared to shove Zombies* into the true mainstream limelight. Two years later, the spaced crew (Frost, Pegg, Wright et all) release a film that quickly became a cult classic: Shaun of the Dead

Zombieland is a comedy which is clearly inspired (the director Fleischer has supposedly said this as well) by Edgar Wright's ode to an American monster with good ol British humor. And while Fleischer and co have a lot to learn when it comes to subtly, Zombieland was quite simply a bloody good laugh.

Zombieland lacks the layered, British, wit that is littered throughout Shaun of the Dead, but with it's visual rule list, kills of the week and superb cameo, (which is best left nameless to truly appreciate the brilliance of the casting) the film so in your face that it doesn't matter in the slightest. Hoping on the Zombie bandwagon, the film makes light of an extremely fucked up situation. The films plot is a fragile as a Kleenex but the films dialogue crackles and the characters keep you interested.

Fleischer (whose supposedly only watched one zombie film before) keeps his film light and breezy as we are introduced very quickly to our zombie killers who in turn get to know each and become a dysfunctional undead-murdering (?) family. The group a natural chemistry together and characters are way more entertaining to hang around than those you see in horror zombie films. This is a good thing because we spent a lot of the films running time with them, in fact the zombies are almost background for a lot of the time. However, when shoved in the forefront the film spares no expense in dispatching them in ludicrous and grotesque ways.

The star of the show is of course Woody Harrelson, an underrated actor whose Texan drawl works absolute wonders here. Consistantly funny throughout, his badass, live fast character is one part Mickey Knox, two parts Ash Campbell. While Jesse Eisenberg shows that you can have fun with the straight man character. Despite playing an anxious character there's a laid-back aspect that I couldn't ignore but enjoyed watching. Also note that Eisenberg was doing the Micheal Cera "thing" before him so this makes him the original**. Abigail Breslin is almost unrecognizable from Little miss sunshine (showing her range), while Emma Stone makes what could have been a bland character her own by infusing it with a sexy attitude, alleviating the love interest character into a more rounded figure***.

Zombieland is one of those cheer along films that is best enjoy with a bunch of beers and pizza. You can drink along to the rules, zombie kills and moments of good ol U.S wit. It's not Shaun of the dead, hell it's not even the superb Drag me to hell, but Zombie land can exist with them in it's own right. Why? The on point dialogue, the brief but fun action sequences, the friendship between the characters and that cameo....THAT Cameo will have zombie fans giggling for weeks. Original? Not really, but top points for effort and execution, and that's what counts. Quite simply a barrel (shotgun) full of laughs.

*They are not dead, just infected, it's stated in the god damn film. Get. Over. It.
** Roger Dodger was 2002 when Eisenberg started his awkward male bit, Arrested Development appeared after.
***When Emma Stone says in the sexy, husky voice she doesn't want drink join her.

Hear more talk about this movie at Geekplanetonline