Sunday, November 1, 2009
Zombieland: A Review
This weekend, to blow off steam from my Admin Law final, I decided to go see Zombieland again with the gf and the Davises. Needless to say, it was even better the second time around. I noticed a lot more stuff this time around, and with that in mind, here is my review of Zombieland from a self-proclaimed zombie enthusiast.
Plot: The plot of Zombieland is simple enough, as it follows the standard formula for zombie mayhem: a group of individuals has banded together, for better or for worse, and are making their way across the country heading to Pacific Playland, a theme park near LA that's rumored to be zombie-free. Each person has their own agenda; Columbus, the movie's main character, is seeking his parents out; the girls are seeking Pacific Playland, and Woody Harrelson, or "Tallahassee," is seeking a Twinkie. Aside from a few minor plot holes, the story was really solid and easy to follow. The rules for surviving a zombie apocalypse were excellently done and obviously well thought out, and a few of them have made it into my own personal survival strategy. The slow-motion scenes at the beginning do a really good job of portraying the reality of what a zombie apocalypse would actually look like, showing the total breakdown in society and portraying zombies not only as the scary angry guy down the block, but everyday people including blushing brides, firefighters, strippers, politicians, and even little girls dressed up as princesses at a birthday party. The story itself doesn't change much from the traditional zombie canon, but it definitely makes for a worthwhile hour and a half as the characters battle the undead in bathrooms, grocery stores, an Indian casino gift shop, and of course, a theme park.
Casting: The casting of this movie is great. Jesse Eisenberg does a great job as Columbus (the characters go by the names of cities so as not to get too familiar in case the worst happens). A poor man's George Michael Bluth, Eisenberg does a great job of balancing the fine line between nerdiness, gumption, terror, intuition, and bravery. It's nice to see a character in a zombie movie that's not a complete stereotype, and Eisenberg is really enjoyable in his breakthrough role. Perhaps the best character, though, is Tallahassee, played by Woody Harrelson in a role that seems written specifically for him. A zombie-hating, Dale Earnhardt-loving, ass-kicking redneck with a snakeskin jacket and a shit-eating grin, Harrelson steals the show time and time again as he hunts zombies and twinkies with equal ferocity. Add in perhaps one of the best celebrity cameos of all time (I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen it yet), and the casting of this movie couldn't have been more perfect.
Gore: Let's face it- zombie movies are violent and gory, and this one doesn't disappoint. While we're spared for the most part the more visceral flesh-eating scenes (except for a couple), the movie nevertheless delivers tons of great zombie kills, doing the living dead in with weapons including hammers, banjos, cars, guns, baseball bats, chainsaws, and even a piano. A great zombie movie isn't complete without a few great zombie kills, and this movie has them in spades.
Zombies: the zombies in this movie are the more modern fast-moving viral zombies, casting off the constraints of the traditional lumbering George Romero undead. I used to prefer the old-fashioned slow-moving style of zombies, but in the last few years I've really come around to prefer the fast moving ones for a few reasons: first, the action is a lot more intense when the zombies are able to sprint. Second, it's a little more believable (relatively speaking) to have zombies that are actually live virus-ridden humans, as opposed to reanimated corpses of the undead. This also makes them easier to kill, as an undead zombie can only be killed by destroying the brain, whereas an undead human can be killed by any number of creative and entertaining means.
Overall, the movie was excellent for both the die-hard zombie film enthusiast and the casual moviegoer who likes action and violence. It's rated R for obvious reasons, and I wouldn't recommend taking your kids to see it if you have qualms about violence or profanity, although there is less of the latter than the former. Even still, I loved this movie and have seen it several times already, and I foresee many more viewings in the future. See the movie if you haven't seen it already. Thumbs way up.