WiseAss Thinkers

Perspective: Zombieland

Date: 18/10/2009
Author: dexjackson
WiseAss Thinkers

I’m sure by now anyone who’s into zombie films, games or just zombies in general will be aware of this new film that has only just recently been released in the last week: Zombieland. Those very same people would have probably watched it in the first couple of days, but I only came about watching it due to going out with a friend. I’m not really a fan of zombie films, you see. However, I actually came away from this film with the sense of a good watch and definite answer of a “film you should definitely watch if you’re zombie fan and for anyone who likes a bit of action-comedy every so often.” So, why should you go to see this film then?

Well, let’s start with the premise. There’s been a very generic — and frank p*ss-take — of an outbreak of a virus that is very dangerous and has made its way across the entire continent of North America and one which has turned practically everyone into ferocious, mind-broken, primal, flesh-eating hominid creatures. There’s hardly any people left unaffected by the virus and those that have are slowly dieing out. Strangely, the virus seems to have started out as a mutation of Mad Cow disease, which goes to show the amount of purposeful p*ss-takes the director and writers did for this film- and there’s even more to come. Back to film…

We enter the film after a lengthy introductory sequence which has given us the “411” on the background of the film, which shows a montage of sorts of various gory, nasty, vicious, frantic and unashamedly humourous deaths that various people become the victim of during the last few weeks- the virus is a real people person, for sure. Anyway, we enter the film to find a young and slightly bewildered college student — possibly a freshman, but who knows? — that seems to have survived the devastation and is currently filling up their car. The student, who happens to be a nerdy guy, needs to go to the bathroom real bad. This turns out to be a big mistake and results in a frantic action sequence with him trying to escape an onslaught of zombies who are out for their next meal of the night.

Image taken from http://zombieslash.com/

Image taken from http://zombieslash.com/

Well, he manages to get away and afterwards we’re treated a scene of total desolation on a highway, in between Mid-Western forestland at midday with destruction all around and no people in sight at all. From here, there is a definite feeling of a sort of bareness throughout the traversable world in the movie and it propels the film forward all the way until the end. On this highway, travelling light — seeing as it is one of rules self-put in place for zombie apocalypse survival — is the same student, whose name happens to be Columbus, which is the name of the town that he’s making his way over too. Along the way, he receives a shock and out of nowhere comes the next survivor of the all the chaos and madness of the last few weeks.

A man, middle-aged and rugged, known by the name of Tallahassee — also named after his home town to avoid attachment between the two — rides up in a customised land machine of some sort- actually, it’s a customised 4×4, but “land machine” sounds much more post-apocalyptic. Columbus and Tallahassee share their stories of the past weeks — with some humour to be found, of course — and we find out that Columbus was quite a loner in his past life, while Tallahassee remains somewhat of a mystery but seems to be running away from something. However, Tallahassee is also on the lookout for Twinkies, which leads to a major sub-plot of the movie- with varying and comical results.

Image taken from http://cachestudio.net/

Image taken from http://cachestudio.net/

As the two travel along, killing zombies and trying to find Twinkies for Tallahassee, they stop off at a mall in search of the Twinkies once again. It is at this point that Tallahassee gets into his prime and some really well-done zombie — but quite gruesome — gruesome fighting scenes take place in the mall. After dealing with the zombies in the mall, the pair come across a young woman similar in age to Columbus, who is called Wichita, who then leads them to her kid sister Little Rock, who seems to have been bitten but hasn’t and… well, it goes pretty wrong for the two men after that.

With all four of them eventually together, though, there is a real group dynamic that shines throughout the movie and keeps the dialogue between the characters flowing right up until the end credits roll. They each implicitly trust each other, both for their mutual survival and the fact that they just seem to gel, even with their clashing personalities. Throughout the film, there are several parts where their fragile peace together becomes unstuck and at key point leads to strife between them — especially the sisters and the men –but always seems to work out in the end- leading to a bit of a good vibe which is always welcome.

The environment of the United States, from the Mid-West to the West Coast, is far-reaching and distinctive, ranging from shadowy forestland to barren country roads and even derelict cities such as Los Anglaes- where there is also a guest appearance by a rather well-known actor, which provides some comic relief from the tense journey across the country. Each place visited feels different and provides a sense of bleak outlooks, the further the group go. And, of course, for each place the group visits, there are the legions of zombies waiting for them…

And boy do those zombies look convincing! The SFX team even managed to make a hot college chick look like a freak of nature at one point early on in the film. The zombies come thick and fast, never stopping and always a menace that has to be avoided by the group in order not be overun- even though they are all capable of handling weapons, even the young girl. The fights they provide are bloody and they are a gruesome and nasty sight, if there ever was one more ghastly than that. On many occasions, the group comes close to being taken down by them, but somehow, the whole groups prevails unscathed- which may upset some zombies genre fans with a nihilistic outlook on it all. They come in different shapes, sizes, ferocity and even costumers for some!

The music, sound and atmosphere of the film is well in key with the film and successfully keeps a sense of excitements and tension flowing through key fights and getaways. Adrenaline plays a big role in the film — I mean, it is a zombie comedy/action horror flick, of course — and engages you for the most part, with such well-done pieces such as the impact of weapons on the zombies and realistic sounding smashes and crashes and so on and so forth.

Overall, this film definitely hits the high mark for me. I may not be a zombie genre fan, but this film was quite warm and had some genuinely funny parts to it, with decent action scenes and some well-written dialogue between characters, which adds both a sense of sympathy at times for their plight but makes them seem Human, rather than just an odd assortment of survivors trying to make it. There’s nothing much bad to say about the film, except that it’s little too action-ny at parts and tends to cast the characters at part as soldiers with an unlimited supply of ammo and guns- but they’re only minor irritances, at any rate.

The film is that good that Mr. California Governator endorses it's goodiness. Image taken from http://verleih.polyfilm.at/

The film is that good that Mr. California Governator endorses it's goodiness. Image taken from http://verleih.polyfilm.at/

A definitive must-see for zombie fans, for those who like their action comedies, or those looking for a decent watch at the cinema with a friend or two.


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