The world’s human population has been infected with a human version of mad cow disease. Anyone afflicted with this particular ailment is rendered a crazed zombie hell-bent on nothing but feasting on the flesh of anyone not suffering the effects of the virus. Columbus has survived the initial onslaught by following 47 rules of zombie survival and is now making his way towards his parents to see if they have survived as well. As he navigates the urban wasteland he teams up with a Dale Earnhardt loving redneck named Tallahassee. Traveling alone like Columbus, he has an uncanny knack for dispatching zombies and a real strong hankerin’ for a creme filled Twinkie. They decide to try and partner up for a bit and see how it works out and for a while, it’s smooth sailing for the odd couple. That is until they meet Wichita and Little Rock, two crafty sisters making their way towards Pacific Playland amusement park – rumored to be a zombie free zone. Against all of their better judgment these vagabonds join forces and must decide if trusting and depending on each other is worth abandoning the rules that have kept them alive this long.
Ruben Fleischer makes his directorial debut with a fun zombie comedy that seems to be universally praised among the horror sites out there, which was surprising to me as there were two characteristics about the zombies in this film that are usually easy flame-bait material in most horror communities. Th ese zombies run, and these zombies are not dead. Unlike the Romero style of shuffling, back from the dead zombie; Zombieland features the infected, pissed-off, living zombie seen in 28 Days or The Signal. Also, there aren’t that many of them seen throughout the film. You see a good bit in the opening title sequence, but not until the last act do you see anything resembling a horde of zombies. I only bring this up because I thought it was a true testament to Fleischer and crew that even with these points, the movie is still garnering mostly positive reactions from even the top horror critics.
The movie does start off with a bang, the opening title sequence showing various zombie attacks in reeaally slow motion all set to the tune of Metallica’s kickass For Whom the Bell Tolls. It was my favorite part of the film actually and my favorite opening title sequence this year (beating out The Final Destination’s) especially with the added touch of having the characters destroying the titles they share the screen with.
This leads to the introduction of Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) a neurotic loner who, before the outbreak, lived most of his days avoiding human contact and playing online video games. He has survived the raging zombies by having no real attachments to any other human, and strictly adhering to a list of 47 rules. Rules like avoiding bathrooms, not being a hero, cardio, and the act of double-tapping – or rather, making sure a zombie is really dead. The movie is from his point of view and narrated by him as well. And therein lies my first problem with Zombieland, and I do admit, this is a personal thing.
I really, REALLY dislike Jesse Eisenberg. Not as a person, as I do not know him. he may be cool as fuck. But in a recent interview Eisenberg admits “ I’m so shocked every time I get into a movie. And then after the movie is done I think I’ve totally failed and ruined this interesting movie. The movie comes out and I’m just embarrassed about myself in it.“ Turns out me and Jesse have some things in common as I am also shocked he gets into movies. He came close to ruining Adventureland for me, his acting coming off like a bad impression of Michael Cera doing a low-key Woody Allen impression. But lucky for him, I am in the minority it seems. I only take this time to talk of my complete dislike of Jesse in movies because even with his dumb face in Zombieland, I still enjoyed the movie quit a bit. Mostly because the zombies and Woody Harrelson completely eclipse him.
I really like Woody, I like the guy a lot. Even with his crappy films, I still like him. So watching him playing a redneck with no fear and a penchant for destroying zombies, well I was a bit giddy. Yeah, that’s right, I said giddy. His Tallahassee character is a fun one and Harrelson seemed to be having a fun time playing him. Not much is known about what he did before the zombie outbreak or if he was any good at it, but what is known now is that Tallahassee kills zombies and he is very, very good at that. Obviously we will never know for sure, but I would have enjoyed this film a lot less without Harrelson in that role. As for Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin? Meh. I could take them or leave them. I am one of those who does not find Emma Stone all that hot, and even though I did enjoy Breslin’s role in Little Miss Sunshine, she really doesn’t do to much here. Neither hurt the film at all, but they don’t really add much to it either.
There is a cameo by a well-known star that by now has been ruined by just about everyone, but I will keep my lips sealed aside from saying that I did find it funny, but just a bit bit too long, a tad pretentious and too far into the film to start the character development they attempted. I laughed out loud at parts during this lull, but I wasn’t forgetting that it was detracting from what I wanted to see the most – zombies. I didn’t need to see what amounted to a commercial for another major film franchise. But good things come to those who wait, in some cases, and in the case of Zombieland it is a pretty accurate statement. With the final showdown between the group and a humongous horde of pissed-off zombies in a fully operational amusement park. Well, let’s just say that in this day and age, when the zombie film has seen just about everything, Fleischer brings in some new ways to remove the world of the walking running dead living. It was a great ending.
Even with an actor I do not like, a cameo speed bump, and the fact that had any of this actually happened Tallahassee would have been banging Wichita every hour while Columbus continued masturbating in a sock while figuring out ways to get his finger in Little Rock – I enjoyed the hell out of the film. As a zombie lover, Zombieland features zombies both dealing and receiving the pain in some gloriously, gory ways – while actually getting me to laugh in the process. I cannot ask much more than that.
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