Zombie movies have made a comeback lately and, thankfully, so have the parody genre. While both zombies and parody films have their fair share of bombs and weak entries, when you’re able to marry the two together with a good script and good actors, the results are often nothing short of pleasant. Take for instance Shaun of the Dead, a rather low budget film that packed in gore, humor, violence, and some romance. It was also an import from the UK, so after its moderate success (more so in the cult department as I don’t think it made too much in the box office) it’s no wonder that a US company was looking to get in on the action. And thus we get Zombieland, a film that was no doubt inspired by Shaun…but also a film that is as original and entertaining as the ones that inspired it. Plus it made a boatload of cash for Sony in the box office, so you know a sequel is in the works.
Nerdy college student Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) has survived the plague that has turned mankind into flesh-devouring zombies because he’s scared of just about everything. Gun-toting, Twinkie-loving Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) has no fears. Together, they are about to stare down their most horrifying challenge yet: each other’s company. Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin co-star in this double-hitting, head-smashing comedy.
Of course in an age when Avatar managed to beat Titanic’s box office record, a film taking in under $100 million worldwide may seem not so impressive, but for a film full of relatively minor stars, the intake was nothing short of amazing. Plus it’s a pretty niche genre, so the fact that a horror comedy had legs in theaters is impressive enough in of itself. What makes it all the more entertaining, however, is that this film was genuinely entertaining. It merged action, horror, and comedy together remarkably well and never got old.
The film itself is really quite overrated though, to be honest. It’s fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but for as much praise as I heard about it before I finally saw it…I was just a little less than impressed. So before going into the film let the hype die down a bit, since it really got quite overblown. I was already excited for it as the premise for it was hilarious and the trailers pitched it perfectly. But once the film got going and I was able to get in with the characters, I realized that it really was a perfect storm of talent, both behind the camera and in front of it.
Obviously when it comes to parody films it’s going to focus on the humor…but as much as this is trying to mock the genre, it’s really as much of a part of it as any other zombie flick. There’s plenty of humor in the film to be sure, but it not an overabundance of it; I’d hoped to laugh more, honestly, which I think is where some of my disappointment stemmed from. But in the end it was a really entertaining film. There are lines, sequences, and deaths in the film that will no doubt go on to be talked about in fan communities for some time. Plus with a sequel headed down the pike, we’ll either get more Zombieland tips and tricks or a horrible mess of sequels…it can go either way.
Zombieland did feel like an intro to something bigger though. Aside from the “Surviving Zombieland Tips” that pop up throughout the film (such as the now-almost-famous “double tap”), the series could very easily be sequalized over and over again. I mean it’s a whole new world to explore and with a cast that they could expand very easily, it’d be interesting to see where the series can go from here. Of course even if we don’t get anything more than an extra sequel, I’ll still be happy as Zombieland was a fantastic little production.
What made it so good was the actors involved. Harrelson has been an actor I’ve liked since his days on Cheers, so to see his comeback in film is nice. Plus this film first came onto my radar when he attacked someone because he thought they were a zombie. I’m still not sure if he’s just a little bit crazy or if that was a stunt of some kind…not that it matters, it got me (and thousands of others, I’m sure) interested in Zombieland. Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin are entertaining as always, although for some reason they insisted on making Stone look like Mila Kunis in the advertisements…weird. But the “star” of the film is Jesse Eisenberg, whom many will no doubt compare to Michael Cera (and vice versa). Which isn’t altogether surprising since they both have the same understated style of acting and comedic delivery; hell, maybe Cera could even show up in the sequel and some mockery could be made there. Who knows; it doesn’t matter in the long run as Eisenberg does a solid job here, even if the character he plays is mildly unbelievable (by that I mean check out the apartment he’s rocking in the beginning of the film—how does only a mildly successful individual afford such a place?).
There’s a lot about Zombieland to enjoy. The over-the-top violence and gore, to the cameo of Bill Murray which was…so wonderfully done (and one I’d actually managed to avoid spoilers for, shockingly enough), to just the general setting of isolation and “apocalypse” style survival that the surviving humans had become accustomed to. Overall it’s a Highly Recommended film if you like the horror, comedy, or parody genre at all (and if you like all three then you should really see this movie). The action is remarkable, the effects are brilliant and…well, I think I’m just glad that it was pulled off so well more than anything.
In a rather shocking turn of events, Sony didn’t release four different versions of this film. Instead it stuck to just two: DVD and Blu-ray. Well there’s a UMD release too for some reason…which is confusing since the Blu-ray includes a PSP copy of the film already so…strange. In any case, the film arrives on DVD in a standard Amaray DVD case without any fancy slipcover or inserts. Extras are fairly light, but still adequate at the same time. Video is a crisp and clear transfer throughout the film, although I’m sure the Blu-ray will offer copious amounts of detail on top of it. Audio is a nice and powerful DD5.1 mix that reminds me just how impressive the DVD format can be even with the superior Blu-ray out there boasting a DTS-HD MA track instead.
Commentary with Actors Woody Harrelson & Jesse Eisenberg, Director Ruben Fleischer, Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick
Go Behind-the-Scenes with “In Search of Zombieland” (15:57)
“Zombieland is Your Land” – The zombification of the United States (11:59)
Deleted Scenes (5:27, Seven total)
Visual Effects Progression Scenes (3:35, Four total)
Theatrical Promo Trailers
Woke Up Dead Episode “Up and At ‘Em”
Quite honestly you could listen to the commentary and be more than satisfied with the extras already. It covers all of the major bases (stunts, writing, acting, directing, locations) and if you enjoyed the film in the least then you’ll find this commentary absolutely fantastic. Plus the fact they were able to get the two big stars of the film to participate is just fantastic. Oddly enough even with five people it never feels overcrowded; everyone talks, but not so much so that they’re tripping over one another’s words.
The remaining extras are pretty straightforward. Deleted scenes are pretty forgettable, but the dual “making of” bits are a nice additive to the commentary. In the end you walk away with a clear picture of what it was like to work on and create this film and the world it inhabits. Sony doesn’t overload you with extras, but it leaves you with just enough that you feel satiated. Highly Recommended.
Zombieland arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on February 2nd.