Monday, October 5, 2009



I cannot lie I was contemplating skipping a showing of this movie to go check out the Megan Fox flick Jennifer's Body because I was not sold on this zombie movie meeting all the positive hype. I am more than thankful now that I went and saw one of the funniest, exciting, and well written movies of 2009. Yes, a zombie movie that even featured a narrative and in depth screenplay. In first paragraph tradition, Emma Stone, I love you.

Zombieland is about the surviving humans in a world that has been infected by an airborne virus which inflicts swelling in the brain and causes infected humans to turn into incoherent zombies. The main character is a loner named Columbus played by Jesse Eisenberg, who has made his way on his own by following a set of his own rules to the strictest sense. These rules are along the lines of keeping in shape, beware of bathrooms, and the double tap (i.e.never assume a zombie is dead, shoot them twice). Columbus then meets a fellow survivor, Woody Harrelson, who is coined the nickname Tallahassee. Each character is given nicknames based on where they come from or where they are going. 

These two decide to team up together, and find themselves crossing paths with two young sisters named Wichita and Little Rock played by the beautiful Emma Stone and Academy Award Nominee (Little Miss Sunshine) Abigail Breslin. These four decide to head out west to California where it is rumored zombies are less of the populous. Upon arriving in LA the survivors decide which celebrity house they want to room in while they spend time there because the Hollywood mansions are all vacant. I will not reveal which celebrity house they choose because it is one of the best cameos I have seen in years.

The actors cast to play the 4 main characters were perfect for their roles as group of misfits looking to survive amidst all the zombie chaos. Eisenberg plays the same character he always does (Adventureland) as a nerdy underdog that lacks any sort of confidence with women. Woody worked out as a comic relief by playing a renegade who specializes in killing zombies and searches high and low for the worlds last Twinkie. Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin have superb chemistry as sisters looking to rely only on each other for survival.

The direction by Ruben Fleischer and editing by Peter Amundsen and Alan Baumgarten in Zombieland was another huge contribution to the wonderful way this story was told. First off was the editing which made Columbus's rules for survival stand out by popping them up on the screen as each rule applies in the situations throughout the movie. The editing also made the story move swiftly and ensured none of the scenes were drawn out too long.

Secondly, the use of slow motion in the action scenes made the zombie killing that much more enjoyable and pleasing to watch. My favorite slow motion scene however was one that featured the 4 main characters destroying an abandon souvenir store to follow another rule on the list, "Enjoy the small things." The joy from the characters here is ever present, and it is never boring to watch the destruction of useless consumer items.

The best part of Zombieland by far was the screenplay composed by Paul Wernick and Rhett Resse. The writers not only developed a world filled with mindless zombies to be interesting, but the characters involved in this tale are given depth. Many pieces of the characters personalities and back stories are reiterated later in the film to show importance or expose more on these 4 surviving humans. The character progression causes the audience to feel for the characters, and root for their survival. Besides the character development, the script had a interesting story and evolving story.

Now on to aspects of the film that caused it to be an (A) and not an (A+). Even though this film is pegged as nothing but a mindless zombie comedy, the story was well rounded to the point it was far from just a comedic slaughter of zombies.

The writers developed so much in this project, but unfortunately never clearly defined what was the breaking point for humans becoming infected. It is stated in the film that the zombies come about through a virus. The writers never expound on the details of the infection which causes (some) viewers to wonder how close the characters are to being infected. Do the zombies have to bite? Is it close proximity to zombies? If it is just a typical airborne infection, aren't all of the characters susceptible to the virus at anytime? If that is the case, why haven't these 4 been infected yet and remained so lucky?

Another thing that really annoyed me were some of the decisions the characters make under the gun while being pursued by those grotesque zombies. One particular scene Little Rock and Wichita jump out of a perfectly good vehicle that has one zombie on the roof while they are being chased by hundreds. Escape on foot as opposed to a perfectly capable vehicle?

That was an absolutely ludicrous decision, and the characters reflection on that would provide the audience with the notion that they understand that. A simple, "Why would we jump out of the truck?!?" would have sufficed. Then viewers would not wonder why the characters did stupid things like this and we would sympathize and maybe even laugh for their poor decision making. Instead we kind of shake our heads at the writers for such a stupid plot twist. Another really bad decision soon follows, no reflection. Bad writing.

I know that is really analytical and not completely necessary, but with the addition of these things the script could have moved from good to perfect. Many people will not even notice small things like that, but I am saying Zombieland could have been perfect with more definition and character insight. It won't hurt the movie for most of you, but stuff like that always makes me wonder and just wish someone else saw these minor flaws. With those few additions, Zombieland could have been an (A+).

Overall, this is the most fun I have had in a movie theater in a long time. I laughed, I cheered, I cringed, and I even had some "awwww" moments. The film was not only one of the most well rounded comedies for sometime, but it was also a thought out and complete story. There is definitely more gore and violence than some may enjoy, but it is no more than you would expect from a zombie movie. Minus the few who can't handle the excess of violence EVERYONE should see this movie. From my insight above you can see I'm really critical, and I gave it an (A). Go see Zombieland as soon as you can, you will not be disappointed. Guaranteed.


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