Saturday, October 03, 2009

Popcorn For One: ZOMBIELAND (perhaps some SPOILER)

I'm going to start right out by giving my ratings and then my review: The first half of this movie gets *** 1/2 Stars and the second half *** stars. Not a perfect film, but certainly as good as I hoped and better than I would have expected.

ZOMBIELAND, if you haven't seen all the ads, takes place in a post-apocalyptic America where a plague (never really explained) has wiped out almost everyone. When the film starts it has obviously been several months since the plague hit and we eventually meet four 'normal' folks who have thus far survived. 'Columbus' (played by Jessie Eisenberg) is a videogame playing nerd, who is trying to get to Ohio to find if his parents have survived. He has gotten by so far by creating a "list of rules" that he follows, many of which we get to see as the 'rule' actually appears on the screen during the action. It is Columbus who narrates the film and it is through his neurotic eyes that we see the other survivors, "Tallahasse" (Woody Harrelson in his best role since NATURAL BORN KILLERS) who seemingly mourns only the death of his puppy; and two sisters "Wichita" (Emma Stone) and "Little Rock" (Abigail Breslin) who were together and without supervision (not explained) prior to the plague.

While Tallahasse's only goal is to find the last box of Twinkies, the girls seek an amusement park they visited in California as children in the idealistic belief (which it is apparent Wichita doesn't really believe) that there are no zombies there. The first half of the film introduces the characters, give some background and eventually has them teaming up for the great road-trip across Zombieland, which is what Columbus has come to call what is left of the U.S. In many ways this is the strongest and most fun part of the film, until the predictable final confrontation at the park. As much as I loved the movie, and would gladly see it again, there are some scenes that take place in the Hollywood home of a celebrity that all but stop the film dead in it's tracks (perhaps appropriate in a movie about the undead). I know we are expected to care and things lead up to this moment, but the scene goes on way too long in my book. Thankfully the appearance of the mansion's owner (a well-known star who I won't give away as many have)turns the film back into the delight that it was in earlier reels.

Two warnings: Many of the most shocking and gory scenes in the film, as well as some of the funniest, appear during the opening credits. If the blood & guts there don't bother you you won't have a problem with what is to come. What a is worse than a puking zombie? One puking directly into the cameralense. Oh, yeah! Secondly, stick it out through the end credits, for a cute bit featuring that 'guest star'.

As usual, there were over half a dozen trailers before the film and this time around the some choices fit with the main feature. Quickly:
1) A Nightmare on Elm St. - why? The trailer shows scenes we have seen in the original and it's sequels. Skip
2) Shutter Island - a creepy, scary tale from Martin Scorsese with Leonardo DeCaprio? I'm am so there!
3) Saw 23 - okay maybe only VI, but haven't we lived through Jigsaw's games way too often already? *yawn* skip
4) 2012 - okay, the trailers looks awesome and living in California there's nothing better than watching the entire state being destroyed. I like John Cusack and Woody Harrelson is also in this one. I'd be tempted to see this one with Kristina, since she is always asking me if I believe in the Mayan prophecy. I might see this.
5) A Christmas Carol - not a huge Jim Carey fan, but I so love this book that I can give just about any version at least a try. Very probably!
6) Amelia - Hilary Swank as Amelia Earhart. Donna wants to see this one, and she doesn't want to see very much! :-)
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