Monday, October 05, 2009

ZOMBIELAND

For a film that starts strong with introductory bookworm narration by Jesse Eisenberg and a slo-mo gush & smash title sequence to the sounds of Metallica's "For Whom the Bell Tolls", Zombieland becomes increasingly dull relentlessly fast. With a script as spare as a two-page outline, Zombieland's best moments appear to come from the impromptu performances and improvised dialogue of its fairly able cast. I generally adore Emma Stone, but her and Abigail Breslen essentially fill space here. The movie belongs to Eisenberg in the role of Columbus, a teeny nerd who continues to survive the zombie apocalypse by adhering to a strict list of rules. The fact that he wields a shotgun in tidy hoody, curly hair, and skinny pants gives Zombieland an aura of geek fantasy fulfillment to it. He's a virgin too.

Zombieland's globe-spanning poster and epic-sounding title hint at something much grander than this brief episode of four people who cross paths and make their way to California from Texas ultimately gives out. Sure, a movie with the words "zombie" and "land" in the title pretty much demands that you close down logic centers and open up a playful mind before taking a seat, but seeing a satellite's eye view of the world under a zombie plague would have been more big screen bonzai-rific than the measly four-pack of characters we were given. Yes, Zombieland's much buzzed-about cameo delivers, but a massive globe-trotting, ensemble zombie film would have been much more appetizing. Think Babel, but with zombies (also, pretend that Babel was good).

It's a bit disconcerting when a film that runs only eighty minutes long must rely on recycling its own devices and jokes. The way the block letter "rules", that Columbus abides by, pop up on screen in real time is cute, as is Tallahassee's Twinkie obsession, but much like the fervor that is established in Zombieland's opening and credit sequences, these tropes wear thin quickly. I suppose this could all be a set up for numerous sequels that will unravel a wider, more interesting landscape and story much in the way REC 2 did with the way overrated REC, but that kind of TV serial planning really irritates me. If your film demands a sequel, then great, but make each one substantial, please. If you're just gonna trickle out your thoughts and plot and art, then please stay planted in TV land.

While at Fantastic Fest, last week, I noticed a sobering amount of audience members who were easily pleased by films that offered a snack size handful of clever punches, but very little in overall breadth. I like unique gags and useful gimmicks as much as the next guy and gal, but I can't help but wonder if our cinema is becoming more and more dominated by movies of compiled whoo-hoo, hand clapping moments instead of films that are of an accomplished whole. Perhaps this is line with the way music fans are trending toward the song download instead of the album. Maybe this is why TV is so popular again too. I don't know, but if Zombieland expected to knock me down with what it brought on Saturday night, then dude better get back to the weight room.

21 comments:

Craig said...

So....Michael Cera and Diablo Cody bring the haymakers, but Zombieland and Inglourious Basterds don't?

Craig said...

That came out more rude than I intended, Fox. Welcome back!

Fox said...

Craig-

No rudeness was taken, but...

Michael Cera? I don't follow.

Also, don't pin me too quickly as a Diablo Cody fan. I'll defend her dialouge in Jennifer's Body, but not in Juno, nor do I think either screenplay - in total - are special.

And Jennifer's Body is better than Zombieland. Oh yeah. I'll make that claim any ol' day!

Hokahey said...

Jennifer's Body better than Zombieland!? OH, MY FREAKIN' GOD! Just kidding. I don't see it, but to each his own. I really enjoyed the latter; the former I did not.

Slayton said...

BABEL *WAS* GOOD

sorta. great performances, at any rate, and some sequences were breathtakingly directed (the park/disco scene)

Fox said...

Hokahey-

Let's time capsule it and see whose opinion is more correct in 20 years. Or not. But wouldn't that be fun to do? Well, I guess that's what Blogger archives are for.

Slayton-

Outside of Rinko Kikuchi, I really couldn't stand that movie. Plus, I think Inarritu is retarded. I don't mean that as an insult, I just really think he's mentally challenged and that's why his movies are always bad.

Slayton said...

I quite like Babel - even though its message-mongering is vague and clumsy - for the value of the performances, editing, photography and some of the directorial setpieces. For the record, I absolutely loathed '21 Grams'.

EVIL CLOWN said...

Fox,

I enjoyed Zombieland quite a bit. Mostly because for the first time I felt a movie embraced the hilarity of zombies. Fido kind of did it, but Zombieland took it all out.

That being said, I agree with you that the type of the rules wore thin.

Also, I was expecting more. Why not have it be like a gameshow with a zombie kill of the week. That's kind of Night of the Living Dead meets Deathrace. I think they pushed the concept, but not enough.

Also, I wanted more zombies. That was my first impression walking out of the film.

But I did like it. It was good fun and Emma Stone can be my girlfriend any time she wants. I love her so much that if a zombie bit her in the arm, I would cut off my own arm to save her.

Fox said...

EVIL CLOWN-

I totally agree with your last flurry of points.

I wanted it to be more zany (I just said "zany"!), more ridiculous, but even that it didn't have that, I still didn't like where it went.

I also had the same thought as you about the "where are all the zombies?" thingy. And outside of the clown zombie, none of them really looked that cool.

Emma Stone rules! She was here in town with the movie a few weeks back, and I heard she wanted to meet me, but I was busy. We text sometimes and stuff, though.

Rick Olson said...

I liked this movie more than you. But then again, I didn't go into it expecting much more than a zombie ride. Which I would definitely consider if Emma Stone got turned into a zombie.

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