Oct 21 2009 by Ian Bunting, Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
ZOMBIELAND is a horror-comedy and focuses on a world brimming with the walking undead. Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg star as Tallahassee and Columbus respectively, two very different men who team up to tackle the mayhem.
Columbus feels he needs strict rules to deal with the zombies but Tallahassee is a wild, fearless man with a simple mission; get to the last Twinkie on earth. They join up with Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) and all four strive to survive long enough to see another day.
There will be obvious comparisons between Zombieland and the outstanding Shaun of the Dead and while they both feature multiple laughs, Zombieland is a different beast.
The zombies don’t stroll, they sprint (a la 28 Days Later). Slo-mo beat downs, broken bodies and gore splatter fill the screen, set to a pumping rock soundtrack. And the set design is terrific. This is a world that genuinely looks struck by the apocalypse.
New director Ruben Fleischer takes the zombie genre and plays with it a little. One of his wisest moves was to focus on a small group of characters who play off each other incredibly well. The mid-section, which features virtually no zombie activity and a ‘road trip,’ felt more like a Judd Apatow comedy.
Eisenberg follows up his recent top work in Adventureland with another star turn. His ‘rules’ raise laughs and his narration is extremely witty.
Harrelson could well achieve a Robert Downey Jr-like comeback with his performance. He’s funny, all-action (almost like a character from a John Woo film towards the end with a double-gunned assault) and in one reflective family moment, incredibly touching.
Stone was the girl who won Seth’s heart in Superbad and she and Little Miss Sunshine’s Breslin manage to keep up with their male counterparts. They’re smart and sassy, although do come over a little ‘damsel in distress’ during the finale.
The film’s funniest sequence features Bill Murray as himself. This is hilarious. It’s quite surreal but rates as one of the comedic highlights of 2009. The repeated references to Ghostbusters were also very welcome.
Fleischer provides many impressive visuals, including Columbus’ rules floating around the screen, blood and gore splashing on the camera and a theme park-set final ‘smackdown.’ Part of it is, literally, like a rollercoaster ride and a ‘clown zombie’ provides great, short-term creepiness.
Zombieland is a perfect night’s entertainment. Short, sweet, smart, scary (a tiny bit), funny and action-packed, it plays like Shaun of the Dead on steroids.
This is one ride you’d battle you’re way through masses of the undead to go on again.
Rating - 8 out of 10.
GUNNER BE MESSY: Woody Harrelson (left) and Jesse Eisenberg hold very different instruments in Zombieland.