Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Case for This and That Land

I have seen Jesse Eisenberg in two movies recently. One was set in an amusement park where he was chasing a gorgeous brunette and succeeding despite his nerdish disposition. The other was set in an amusement park where he was chasing a gorgeous brunette and succeeding despite his nerdish disposition – while battling zombies. One was set at the end of the civilisation; the other was set to Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus”. Perhaps unsurprisingly then, the movie’s titles are also quite similar: Adventureland (reviewed way back when) and the “undead sequel” Zombieland.

There isn’t really much of a plot in Zombieland. There are no deep moments of revelation or taut psychological encounters, not even of the flesh-eating kind. People meet, hang out, slay zombies. That’s really it. There doesn’t really need to be anything else.

It’s a fun movie, though the humour suffered in comparison to Shaun of the Dead which was on C4 on Sunday night (that one is much funnier, in a British way). But Zombieland makes up for its lack of wit through the use of large vehicles and an inventive array of weaponry, both hi and low tech, with which the heroes battle the brain-eating hordes.

To be honest, I was a bit worried when (warning: I have hopefully written this so that it does not spoil ANYTHING for ANYONE, but just in case you might want to skip this paragraph) XXXXXXXX* showed up, as the first few minutes of his appearance had me questioning quite where the movie was heading. But then the film recovered from the initial awkwardness in tone to produce what was (for me) one of the funniest scenes in the whole movie.

You have to like splatter humour though. The zombies are dispatched in a variety of extremely bloody ways that only works as “funny” if you can objectify what (if this were real) would be disease-ridden fellow human beings. Woody Harrelson obviously relishes his role as a gun-toting zombie-killing machine, but still manages to whip out the banjo like the one he played for My Prairie Home Companion, though this musical interlude is short lived and the banjo has to be put to more defensive uses.

At any rate, if you want a no-brainer action flick with a black sense of humour (like I was), then you can’t go wrong with Zombieland. Though I still reckon Shaun of the Dead is better.

By the way: there are apparently hilarious outtakes over the end credits that
the Bananaboat had to tell me about because I missed them. Don’t make the same mistake I did and leave as the credits start rolling.

Verdict: There’s not a whole lot new in Zombieland that one hasn’t seen a hundred times before. But one of the rules for surviving an undead apocalypse is to “Enjoy the little things”, and this little movie can definitely be enjoyed – well, by some people (and probably after a hard day or week at work) at least. 3 Twinkies out of 5.

* Name removed - see comments


Morgan Davie said...

Suggestion: remove the name of *surprise guest star*, if only because every other piece of writing on the film everywhere is super-coy about who *surprise guest star* is.

Seriously, I've read like 30 articles or reviews and they all say "surprise guest star but I can't say who".

Might as well play along I guess - your current spoiler warning did not dissuade me! :-)

R said...

Name removed!

Odd that the mystery guest is seen as such a mystery, considering how prominently the person is credited on the Reading's movie review website. But the name is gone, in the interests of maintaining one small fragile illusion for those who may not want the unknown revealed.


Morgan Davie said...

Really, it's on the Reading site? Weird! I figured from all the secrecy in the reviews I've seen that the movie itself goes to pains to make it a big surprise. And when I got curious it took a lot of googling to find out who it was...

Anyway, my spoiler-warning sense is appeased.