Starring:Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Writer(s): Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Original Score:David Sardy
Running Time:84 Mins.
Jesse Eisenberg is seemingly a fan of “lands”, following the fraught path of young love in Adventureland a few weeks ago, he now treads the even more fraught path of zombie killing, oh and still finds time for a bit of love, in Zombieland from first time director Ruben Fleischer, remember his name folks, he is, on the evidence here, a director to get excited about.
But, for now, back to Eisenberg, so good in Adventureland (and just as good here) where that film was small and subtle this is big and loud, and (literally) signpost’s things on screen. Opening with Columbus explaining his rules to surviving Zombieland, a lay-to-waste America, he staggers from one zombie problem to the next, whilst his rules flash up onscreen. This kind of self-parody is not new but here it works like such a charm you feel like applauding, save though for the giant grin you will have when each of the undead are disposed of by way of Columbus’ Rule #3 Doubletap!
Rather than give any explanation for the zombie “epidemic” a slo mo riddled stylistic credit sequence simply relishes the opportunity to show heads explode and rotting flesh putrid with gangrene hang, as the zombies wreak havoc on their victims, rampant violence has never been such fun.
The charm of Zombieland lies largely in its brevity and acknowledgement that there really is little need for a plot with a script this self referential and characters this damn fun, Woody Harrelson is at his best here creating a character that belongs up on the pantheon alongside Jack Sparrow and Ash from Evil Dead with his larger than life banjo playing, seemingly indestructible, zombie killing pro, redneck, so many superlatives all deserving of their emphasis. Teaming Harrelson’s Tallahassee up with Columbus is a stroke of genius and their banter is some of the most entertaining this side of that in Shaun of the Dead.
Good enough to be mentioned in the same breath as that seminal rom-zom-com it is not quite a match and does lack some of the more subtle in-jokes, but almost makes up for it with the stroke of genius cameo two thirds in, to spoil the surprise would be criminal but said cameo-er so self reverentially tears into his persona that it might just be one of THE scenes of the year.
The film only falters in the attempt at a romance between Columbus and Wichita, they are convincing once she drops the femme fatale act and there are some brilliant lines to be found in Columbus wooing attempts, “someones hair is in danger of being swept behind their ear” is a classic line when spoken in Eisenberg’s earnest tone, but the scene’s between them feel like they slow the pace down a touch too much when, call me a sadist, I’d much rather have had one more zombie slaying action scene. Thankfully it picks up on the close and ingeniously sets the climatic battle in an amusement park, quite frankly what beats the sight of Woody Harrelson aboard a roller-coaster shooting zombies on each turn…and that’s why everyone should see this film!
In ZombielandEisenberg’s knowing tone, Woody Harrelson on top zombie killing form, a (literally) killer script and one hell of a cameo add up to make Ruben Fleischer’s debut something special and one of the comedies of the year…I’d gladly return for a second trip!