Posts Tagged ‘zombieland

26
Oct
09

Movie Review: Zombieland

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Call it an American “Shaun of the Dead.”

Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, and Bill Murray. Directed by Ruben Fleischer

Sometimes going into a movie with low expectations is the best way to see it. I walked in hating the idea of the movie and walked out loving it.

Welcome to the United States of Zombieland; what’s left after a virus begins turning people into zombies (nothing new there). The narrator of this tale is “Columbus” (Eisenberg), an Austin college student from Ohio. He’s your standard post-Generation X nebbish, sensitive, shut-in “World of Warcraft”-playing collegiate that didn’t find out about the virus until his next door neighbor in 406 (Amber Heard) is bitten by a homeless guy and he offers a sympathetic shoulder. Unfortunately when he wakes she doesn’t want just his shoulder to cry on.

After the incident he ventures out into the world creating a list of rules as he goes along (up to 31 when the movie opens). The Rules for dealing with zombies include Cardio (being able to out run them), Double Tap (shooting the zombie twice, at least once in the head), Don’t Be a Hero, Check the Back Seat, Beware of Bathrooms, etc. It’s by these rules that Columbus survives.

On a highway with cars and trucks strewn everywhere (and a few burnt to a crisp) he meets Tallahassee (Harrelson), a shoot-from-the-hip zombie-killing badass. Tallahassee is 180 degrees different than Columbus: he’s brazen, redneck, macho, and says exactly what he thinks. His mission: killing zombies and the quixotic quest for Twinkies. His advice leads to Rule 32: Enjoy the little things.

This pair begin heading east and a stop at a grocery store leads to meeting sisters Wichita (Stone) and Little Rock (Breslin). Columbus and Tallahassee soon find that Wichita and Little Rock are more than just sisters; they’re con artists. This is found out multiple times after being taken for their weapons and vehicles (which they lose twice). Wichita and Little Rock are on a mission: Pacific Playland, an amusement park which supposedly has no zombies.

Before going in I wasn’t a big fan of zombie movies. I’m as done with zombies as I am with vampires. Yes, I loved “Shaun of the Dead. Who, except my brother, didn’t? I thought “28 Days Later,” was great. That’s it. I don’t fawn over every zombie survival guide or movie that’s released. This movie is something different.

The movie keeps a consistency: cynical narration from Columbus. We see and hear his internal thoughts, fears, wants, and desires. He thinks tough but can’t always pull it off. Add to that creative CG titling that brings to mind David Fincher movie intros. The initial opening sequence that shows the progression of zombies in the world and feels more than inspired from the intro to “Watchmen.” In fact Fleischer does a great job in doing what he wants with the zombie genre without making you feel like “we’ve seen this all before.” The world of “Zombieland” becomes a backdrop for a road movie where the characters are looking for illusory security.

Paying homage to “Watchmen”/David Finch intros is the most direct homage the movie pays to any other film. There is a scene at Pacific Playland where Tallahassee fortifies himself inside one of the booths where you throw a ball in the futile attempt to win a giant plush animal prize. Wearing a snakeskin jacket he blasts away at the oncoming zombies with a pair of gold-plated 9mms (“Face/Off” anyone?) He ejects the empty clips and reloads by slamming the cartridges standing on the table into the them (“Tomb Raider”-ish?) Speaking of video games the coup de grace scene where all parties involved have to defend themselves against the gigantic group of zombies reminded me of the days when I played “Doom,” while blasting hard rock music in the background. I’m just saying…

Is it gory? Yes. It’s also funny, witty, cynical, brazen, redneck, and a little romantic. Harrelson definitely carries the movie, but the cast looks like they were having film filming it. Eisenberg is good, but Michael Cera could’ve done just as well. Emma Stone works, and I’m becoming really impressed with Abigail Breslin; she’s more than just the kid you remember from “Little Miss Sunshine.”

So I’ve been saving Bill Murray for last. The group make it into Hollywood and after stealing a Map of the Stars they head to the home of the actor Tallahassee considers the top of the A-list: Bill Murray. Murray’s huge, lavish mansion is a little more than self-indulgent with various paintings of Murray. They almost mistake Murray for a zombie because he wears makeup to look like one (“It’s easier to blend in as a zombie.”) After an altercation Little Rock asks if he has any regrets to which he responds: “’Garfield,’ maybe.”

That’s as much as I’ll say about that. If this review can’t convince you to go see it, I don’t know what will.

My grade: A

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30
Sep
09

October Movie Releases

“Capitalism: A Love Story” – Greed. Avarice. Michael Moore. Documentary. Opens October 2, 2009

“The Invention of Lying” – Ricky Gervais movie about a world in which everyone tells the truth and his character ‘invents’ lying. Barring any fibbing, the movie opens on October 2, 2009

“A Serious Man” – Coen Bros. movie about a man trying to find clarity in the Sixties. Opens October 2, 2009.

“Whip It” – Ellen Page returns to the screen as a teen who finds her calling by joining a female roller derby team. This is also the directorial debut of Drew Barrymore. Opens October 2, 2009

“Zombieland” – As if we can’t get enough zombie movies, this one has Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg as two guys who must escort a band of survivors to safety. Also stars Abigail Breslin and Bill Murray. Opens October 2, 2009

“Couples Retreat” – Couples are on a tropical resort island to work out their marriages. Stars Kristen Bell, Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, and Jean Reno. Opens October 9, 2009

“Law Abiding Citizen” – Gerard Butler plays a man whose family is murdered. Jamie Foxx is a hotshot lawyer presiding over his case. Butler goes to jail and after 10 years begins plaguing the city by executing carefully-plotted assassination plans from his jail cell. Opens October 16, 2009

“The Stepfather” – A guy returns home from military school to find his mother with a new man. Is he everything he’s cracked up to be? Remake of the 80’s flick with Terry O’Quinn. Opens October 16, 2009

“Where the Wild Things Are” – Spike Jonze adaptation of the classic kids book. I’m there! Opens October 16, 2009

“Amelia” – A look at Amelia Earhart, the aviator who disappeared flying over the Pacific in 1937. Stars Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Virginia Madsen and Ewan McGregor. The film lands on October 23, 2009

“Saw VI” – Are you tired of playing games? Evidently they’re not. The mayhem ensues on October 23, 2009

“The Vampire’s Assistant: Cirque Du Freak” – A boy named Darren Shan meets a mysterious man who turns out to be a vampire, then takes him on the long road to becoming one. Stars Salma Hayek, John C. Reilly, Willem Dafoe, and Patrick Fugit. Opens October 23, 2009

“Michael Jackson’s ‘This Is It’” – The documentary on MJ’s last days. There ya go. Opens October 28, 2009

“The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day” – Sequel to the 90’s cult classic about two brothers defending their neighborhood from Russians wanting to take over. This time around they’re in seclusion in Ireland when word of the death of a priest brings them out of hiding to solve the case. Stars Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus, and Billy Connolly. Opens October 30, 2009

“Youth in Revolt” – Michael Cera is a teenager who falls for the girl of his dreams and develops a split personality who creates havoc. Wasn’t this “Fight Club?” Also stars Ray Liotta, Steve Buscemi, M. Emmet Walsh, Justin Long, and Fred Willard. Opens October 30, 2009

30
Jun
09

Movie News and Views June 30, 2009 Trailer Edition

“Not Quite Hollywood” – “Oz-ploitation”: the 1970’s and 1980’s era of Australian filmmaking. “Mad Max” wasn’t the only movie to make it across the pond. Showing in limited release (which sucks for anywhere but NY and LA) on July 31, 2009

“Cold Souls” – Paul Giamatti plays himself, a tormented actor who seeks relief through “soul extraction.” Opens in limited release on August 7, 2009

“Shorts” – Robert Rodriguez movie about a small suburban community centered around the Black Box company, which is a be-all end-all do-everything gadget. A mysterious rainbow-colored falls from the sky and has the ability to grant anyone’s wish. Opens August 7, 2009

“A Perfect Getaway” – Milla Jovavich and Steve Zahn are on a honeymoon in Hawaii when they discover they’re being stalked by a pair of killers. Opens August 14, 2009

“Spread” – Guy (Ashton Kutcher) who sleeps around in a life of privilege meets girl (Margarita Levieva) who does the same. Sorta reminds me of Audrey Tautou’s “Priceless.” Opens August 14, 2009

“The Time Traveler’s Wife” – Based on the novel about a man (Eric Bana) who has a genetic disorder that causes him to time-travel when he’s under duress. He tries to have a relationship with a young heiress (Rachek McAdams). Go back (and forward) in time on August 14, 2009

“The World’s Greatest Dad” – Robin Williams is a recently divorced poetry teacher who dreams of being a novelist. And then a whole bunch of bad stuff happens. Opens August 21, 2009

“Final Destination 4” – A guy named Nick O’Bannon goes to the racetrack with his family and friends and receives a premonition about an accident. He saves them and cheats Death, which isn’t the kind of thing Death takes kindly too. The 4th installment of the series opens August 28, 2009

“Whiteout” – Kate Beckinsale is a U.S. Marshal assigned to Antarctica who must solve a murder case in 3 days or else be stranded with the killer. Based on a series of graphic novels. Opens September 11, 2009

“The Invention of Lying” – Ricky Gervais movie about a world in which everyone tells the truth and his character ‘invents’ lying. Barring any fibbing, the movie opens on September 25, 2009

“Shutter Island” – Scorsese pic about two U.S. Marshals sent to a mysterious island to track down a criminally insane patient. Stars Leo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo. Opens October 2, 2009

“Zombieland” – As if we can’t get enough zombie movies, this one has Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg as two guys who must escort a band of survivors to safety. Also stars Abigail Breslin, and Bill Murray. Opens October 9, 2009

“Amelia” – A look at Amelia Earhart, the aviator who disappeared flying over the Pacific in 1937. Stars Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Virginia Madsen and Ewan McGregor. The film lands on October 23, 2009

“The Box” – James Marsden and Cameron Diaz are a couple with a kid living in dire circumstances when a mysterious stranger gives them a box that has a button on it. Pressing the button will reward them with $1 million however, it will also kill someone else in the world they do not know. Based on the Richard Matheson story, “Button, Button.” Decide if you will press it on October 30, 2009

“Old Dogs” – John Travolta and Robin Williams are two business execs on the verge of the Biggest Business Deal of Their Lives and have to take care of 6-year-old twins. Uh, yeah. Opens November 25, 2009

“Daybreakers” – 2017. A plague has changed most of the human race into vampires, which are threatened with a dwindling blood supply. Meanwhile a researcher (Ethan Hawke) struggles to find a way to save the human race. Opens January 8, 2010

“The Last Airbender” – Based on the Nickelodeon TV series about a successor to a long line of Avatars who must stop the Fire nation from taking Earth, Air and Water. Opens July 2, 2010