Sunday, October 4, 2009

Review: Zombieland

Zombieland is a fantastic, refreshing spin on your average zombie movie, serving up its fair share of laughs and scares.  Well, more laughs than scares, but I don’t think it should be any other way.  Zombieland kept the whole audience laughing, much in the spirit of Shaun of the Dead – but with its own unique twists.  The movie begins with a brilliant slow-mo montage of various zombie chases, complete with arcing blood spatters and flying objects, and features animated “rules” (kind of like the animations that pop up during football games) that appear throughout the movie.  It’s these distinctive little things that make the movie so much fun to watch.  Oh, the zombie killings are impressively revolting (but not for the faint of heart).

Zombieland takes place in a fictional present-day America where the first zombie was a result of a tainted hamburger.  Columbus (all the characters are nicknamed after their hometowns) is one of the last surviving humans left.  Played by an appropriately dorky Jesse Eisenberg (most recently seen playing essentially the same character, sans zombies, in Adventureland), Columbus has no friends, family, or social skills – and he admits to having been exactly the same way even before the zombie apocalypse.  He’s still alive because of the strict set of aforementioned rules he follows (for example, Rule #4, “the double tap”: shoot all zombies twice to make sure they’re really, really dead), but he’s completely alone in the world.  His goal in life, aside from surviving in Zombieland, is to brush a hot girl’s hair behind her ear.  And then, preferably, lose his virginity to her.

Luckily for Columbus, he soon meets up with tough Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), surly and sexy bad-girl Wichita (Emma Stone), and her little sister, Little Rock (Abigail Breslin).  Zombie-filled hijinks and a bit of romance ensue.

The gun-toting, hedge clipper-wielding Harrelson is hilarious and offsets Eisenberg’s dry wit perfectly, and Stone and Breslin do fine in their roles.  Along with the actors, the movie’s fast pace and constant humor make difficult to find much to complain about.  The only slight grievance I have is that the story lags a bit in the middle.  Bookended by plenty of zombies and exciting action at the beginning and the end, the middle – in which the story focuses on characters whose back-stories aren’t terribly interesting – seems a bit slow and out of place.  Still, that small flaw is more than made up for with a cameo from Bill Murray (one of the funniest and most unexpected parts of the movie) and the climactic ending, which is in fact facilitated by the slight lag in the middle.

All in all, I highly recommend this zombie flick for anyone with even the smallest sense of humor and an affinity for zombies – you really can’t go wrong.

Final Rating (out of 5):