Review by Michael Jacobson
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody
Harrelson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Features: See Review
Length: 88 Minutes
Release Date: February 2, 2010
“WHERE ARE THE F—KING TWINKIES??!”
Zombies are making a comeback of late...I guess they never really go away, but in more ways than one, they just can't stay dead.
I think the reason is simple: you can do anything with a zombie. You can shoot them, mash them, splash them, grind them, bind them, gut them and splut them. And you don't feel guilty. After all, you're just killing something already dead, right?
For modern horror filmmakers, I think killing zombies is like comedians telling the aristocrats joke. The end result is always the same, but the points come from the style and imagination of performing the act. Or in coming up with new ways to tell a story that is essentially always the same.
Zombieland is a hilarious and gruesome exercise in mowing through the undead with a quartet of memorable characters. The scenario of the movie is that the apocalypse is all but complete; zombies so far outnumber humans now that there is no longer even a concept of The United States; only a Zombieland. Kind of like what's happening to the country under the current administration, but with much bloodier consequences.
The narrator is known only by the name of his hometown, as is all the other characters. Columbus (Eisenberg) doesn't seem like the kind of fellow who could survive in Zombieland, but he's managed to stay alive by following a clear set of rules he's established. As a nice touch, the rules often appear on screen in graphic form and physically interact with the action in frame.
He meets up with Tallahassee (Harrelson), a tough, Twinkie-loving gun toter who seems to love the hunt. Hell, he doesn't even need a gun to do his dirty work...a car door or even a banjo will suffice.
They are making the trip west across what's left of the country when they come across a pair of sisters, Wichita (Stone) and Little Rock (Breslin), who have kind of a Paper Moon thing going. If you don't get the reference, all the better...it leads to a couple of hysterical outcomes for the boys.
The belief is that a big amusement park out west is the last holdout for humanity. I don't know where the hell they came up with that idea, but it makes for an amusing finale...the only thing that's better than a zombie slaughter is one that takes place amongst carnival rides and calliope music.
It's essentially a road trip movie with a horror and comedy twist, and the overall tone and character feel is what sets this one apart from the conveyor belt imitators that have been following George Romero since the 1960s. Filmmakers have reached a point where exposition is all but forgotten, and audiences don't really need it. Who really cares about why things are the way they are? Give me a gun and something dead to blow up.
The cast has great chemistry, and director Ruben Fleischer sets and maintains just the right tone throughout, especially with a surprise star appearance half way through that leads to one of the most memorable dispatching in zombie movie history. One that you'll almost feel like you shouldn't laugh at, but you WILL laugh, long hard and uncontrollably.
It's not exactly a work of genius, but Zombieland takes the stale and makes it seem fresh and funny, and that always equates to a good time for horror fans.
This is a beautiful high definition transfer from Sony...pretty much flawless, but gets one half star withheld simply for not pushing the boundaries a little more. Light and dark scenes come through with equal clarity and integrity, and some of the slow motion shots will have you applauding the levels of detail. No complaints at all.
This is more of an action movie soundtrack than a horror movie soundtrack, in that it's mostly loud, loud, loud with fewer breaks for quieter moments. But it works...front and rear stages thunder and vibrate with the heavy machinery and gun play, and dialogue is always clear and well-rendered amongst it all.
The disc includes an enjoyable commentary with stars Eisenberg and Harrelson, with director Fleischer and the screenwriters. There are numerous deleted scenes, two behind-the-scenes featurettes on the making of the movie and turning the nation into Zombieland, deleted scenes, visual progression scenes (see how the zombies became zombies), trailers, and exclusive to Blu-ray, a pop up picture-in-picture track, a MovieIQ track, and BD Live, though I found nothing terribly exciting when I went there.
Rounding out is a bonus digital copy disc.
Zombieland demonstrates that some of the funniest and even most tender moments can come when things are at their most bleak. This quality Blu-ray offering delivers a scary good time from start to finish.