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.