Like Tallahassee’s Twinkies, it isn’t original, filling or nutritious, but it tastes good.
October 3, 2009 – Zombieland, as its title implies, is a parody of zombie-apocalypse films, and it does a solid job while providing a fun time. The film focuses on the lives of four survivors of the zombie apocalypse, Tallahassee, a stereotypical gun-wielding action-hero type with personality quirks, Wichita and Little-Rock, two con-women sisters, and Columbia, a typical reclusive geek with a list of practical rules that guide his daily zombie-evading life. These four characters find themselves wrapped up together in a trip to a west coast theme park, supposedly one of the few places left in Zombieland (America) with no zombies.
The plot and dialogue is obvious when it is not derivative, but the actors manage to inject life into an otherwise hollow story. Wichita, played by Emma Stone, and Little-Rock, played by Abigail Breslin, while portrayed well, especially in Breslin’s case (she’s a very good actress for her age,) are the least interesting characters in the film as they seem to be there primarily to push the plot forward and emphasize character traits of Columbia and Tallahassee.
Tallahassee, played by Woody Harrelson, is the source of most of the physical humor in the movie, as well as the one-liners. While the character fits the stereotypical mold of the badass with a heart of gold, Harrelson pulls off almost every line of dialogue with enough character and humor to make listening and watching him a lot of fun.
Columbia, played by Jesse Eisenberg, is perhaps the most unique character in the movie, almost exclusively for his “list” of basic rules for survival. The list is often presented in a way that breaks the fourth wall, and does so successfully and to the credit of the film. I often wished for more rules from his “list” to be shown and used, as they provided a humorous commentary on the action when they were present. Each of the character is given a little back-story, but not too much, making it a wise blend of characterization, action and gags.
The film doesn’t strive for any particular style or look, which has the unfortunate effect of making the film bland and generic in this area. Only the amusement park and Woody Harrelson’s face will stick out visually after the rest has faded away. The Zombies are the worst part of the design, as they look more like deranged people with charcoal smothered on their faces, puking coffee, rather than undead hordes. The cinematography is similarly bland, if entirely serviceable.
The music selection was fun and meshed well with the action on the screen, and while the actor’s voices weren’t always as clear as they could have been, at least they were all audible. No scene felt too loud or too soft in comparison with any of the others. That being said, this wasn’t a movie requiring a very dramatic range.
The film doesn’t go out of its way to be original or thoughtful, but it doesn’t have to be. It hits all of the basic notes of a zombie film parody, with enough character thanks to the good acting and well developed characters (for a parody movie) that it manages to stand out ahead of the pack, if not exactly at the same caliber of Shaun of the Dead.
The best parts of the film are the ones that were mostly unique to itself, such as Columbia’s fourth wall-breaking rules and the lighthearted way the characters fought many of the zombies. If the film had more of those moments, it would have truly set itself out as one of the better Zombie parody films.
Oh, and keep your eyes open for the kill of the week moment (still great even though its in every trailer,) and a very special and awesome cameo, both of which are additional highlights in the film.
Don’t be fooled by my opinion of the mediocre visuals and audio, I really enjoyed this movie. Starting with the fun opening credit sequence that plays off of the Watchmen’s credits and classic zombie movies, all the way through to the shotgun-rollercoaster ending, I had a very good time. Just don’t expect it to stay with you until next week.
Rating out of 10 Description
7/10 Story: Playing off tried and true zombie apocalypse clichés, the plot
manages to be serviceable, but nothing above mediocre.
8.25/10 Character: While only Columbia and Tallahassee are memorable, all
of the characters manage to break the 2-d surface, even if
they don’t become fully rounded.
6.50/10 Look: Absolutely nothing to distinguish itself, it manages to stumble
at crafting decent zombies.
7.5/10 Cinematography: Nothing particularly outstanding or terrible.
7.5/10 Audio: Low quality, but never onerous, it does manage to utilize
good music effectively.
9/10 The Spark: Not a technical or design marvel by any means, I still
came out of the theater with a definite soft-spot in my heart
for the film. I had a really great time, and I suggest it to
anyone with a passing interest in parodies, zombie-flicks, or
OVERALL: 7.9/10 (Not an Average)