PLOT: In a world overrun by zombies, a band of survivors; consisting of a bad-ass zombie-killing survivalist (Woody Harrelson), his neurotic sidekick (Jesse Eisenberg), and two con-artist sisters (Emma Stone, & Abigail Breslin)- attempt to navigate their way to an amusement park that’s supposedly free of the undead.
REVIEW: Oh hell yes! ZOMBIELAND is one heck of an antidote to the increasingly shitty genre entries we’ve been getting lately. After last week’s double dose of crapola- courtesy of SURROGATES, and PANDORUM, we finally get a genre entry that delivers on all levels. It’s gory, action packed, well-written, and most importantly- FUN!
Now, I must admit- I had my doubts as to whether ZOMBIELAND would deliver the goods. The trailers were ok, but the whole thing seemed derivative of SHAUN OF THE DEAD. To be sure, the films are similar in some ways, and I doubt we’d have a ZOMBIELAND without SHAUN OF THE DEAD, but director Reuben Fleischer delivers in a big way with this, his feature, directorial debut. In no way does he rip off SHAUN, and where that was a fairly intimate story, ZOMBIELAND plays on a more epic level- as it depicts a truly apocalyptic situation. More than SHAUN OF THE DEAD, it seemed this film owes a lot to Max Brooks’ WORLD WAR Z- as it really seems like this takes place in THAT world (whoever owns the film rights to WWZ should take notice, as Fleischer would be a great choice to helm that long overdue film).
The action kicks off fast and furious right from the get-go, with some crazy carnage unfolding, WATCHMEN-style, over the opening credits- which are scored, in a truly ass-kicking way, by the classic Metallica anthem, ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’. From that point on, the pacing NEVER lets up for a second. Fleischer keeps things rolling at a fever-pitch, with a wisely compact, eighty-five minute running time, that never wears out it’s welcome, and features a number of awesome zombie-action set-pieces, including the awesome, amusement park climax.
Probably the thing about ZOMBIELAND that’s going to get the most people talking (other than a truly kick-ass cameo that I’m not going to spoil here) is the awesome performance by Woody Harrelson as Tallahasse, who’s exactly the type of zombie ass-kicker you’d want on you side in a situation like this. In the history of zombie films, no one, except maybe Ken Foree in the original DAWN OF THE DEAD,has kicked so-much ass, and this is truly a major comeback role for Harrelson, who hasn’t done much over the last few years. I honestly, could not imagine a better piece of casting than Harrelson, in this instantly iconic role, and despite the fact that he’s in his late forties, is probably in better shape now that he was fifteen years ago in the classic NATURAL BORN KILLERS. He’s truly at the top of his game here, and I hope it re-establishes him as the leading man he was ten years ago.
Other than Harrelson, the rest of the cast is similarly awesome, although Harrelson can’t help but own every scene he’s in. Jesse Eisenberg pretty much plays the same role he did in ADVENTURELAND (fantastic film that deserved a bigger audience- pick up the blu-ray if you haven’t seen it), and is 100% likable as always. Emma Stone from SUPERBAD, pops up as the obligatory love interest, and she does a great job (the fact that she’s smoking hot doesn’t hurt either). Everyone’s truly at their best here, even young Abigail Breslin, who’s solid as Stone’s younger sis, and has a memorable exchange about HANNAH MONTANA with Harrelson.
Overall, ZOMBIELAND is one heck-of-a fun flick, and I loved every second of it. I thought it was pretty perfect, from the awesome cast, to the wicked soundtrack (which, in addition to Metallica, also features some Velvet Underground, Van Halen, and an inspired use of Chuck Mangione’s AM classic, ‘Feels So Good’). While it’s definitely more of a comedy than a horror flick, I still think it works well on both levels (more so than the recent JENNIFER’S BODY), and is easily the best film of it’s kind since SHAUN OF THE DEAD, and promises big things from director Fleischer. Hopefully, audiences are going to eat this up, as I’d love a return ticket to ZOMBIELAND.