Thursday, July 31, 2014

Zombieland review


     I really don't know how to rate Zombieland. After years of arguing with people about the social-commentary, symbolism, and philosophy behind zombies--here comes a movie which is just mindless fluff. Zombieland is a movie where zombies are allegories for zombies and the end of the world is a stand-in for the end of the world.

    It's still fun, though. Zombieland reminds me of the Resident Evil movies in a way. It's not a movie about anything but entertaining you and while it doesn't have Mila Jovovich, it does have Emma Stone and Woody Harrelson at his comedic best.

    The premise of Zombieland is that a batch of bad hamburger has spread a virulent Mad Cow-disease variant through the populace which turns people into zombies. These are the "Fast Zombies" of 28 Days Later and are capable of running after people. Indeed, there's a rather hilarious joke I can laugh at while I'm still overweight (working on it!) that it was the "fatties" who were the first to die.

The four actors are just delightful on screen.
     The premise of Zombieland is that "Columbus" (every character is referred to by a city name for some reason) as played by Jesse Eisenberg is one of the survivors of the Zombie Apocalypse. After fighting off his very attractive neighbor turned zombie, he joins forces with Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) who is the extremely tough zombie-hunter he is not. The two of them eventually stumble on con-women Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) before reluctantly joining forces to find shelter.

    Very reluctantly.

    There's a lot of genuinely laugh out loud moments spread throughout the film that I don't want to spoil. It would, for instance, be criminal to ruin the punchline of the mansion squatting scene. Anything I tell you would just make it less funny, so I'm going to keep my lid shut. All of the stars have chemistry and seem to be having fun, which compensates for the fact the movie is as substantial as a feather. Video game fans might also find this to be a good substitute for a Left 4 Dead movie, what with its simulation of the four player co-op experience.

The zombies aren't too scary, I'm sorry to say.
    Despite this, I can't say Zombieland is all that great of a movie. Aside from the fact the movie is mostly lacking in dramatic weight aside from one out-of-nowhere revelation, there's also the fact the female characters in the film lose all agency right at the time it's necessary for Columbus' character to show unexpected competence.

     As for the zombies themselves (or "infected" if you want to be pedantic), I can't say I'm overwhelmed by them. 28 Days Later made the running zombies terrifying by showing their unnatural movements. These zombies just, well, run. They're targets in a video game and the make-up didn't wow me either. They don't even show up that often on screen, which is probably a blessing.

    The most fun in the film is had when the characters are alone, away from the apocalypse, enjoying the general lawlessness of the world. You can take what you want, wreck what you want, and have a good time doing whatever. Being alone in a zombie apocalypse is hellish but might not be so bad if you have friends (and are sufficiently jaded to forget you've all lost your families).

    Still, I love Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, and zombies. The other actors do a decent job too. You could do worse for an afternoon's entertainment.

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