Zombieland (2009)
By: J.R. McNamara on May 6, 2010  | 
DVD
Sony | Region A, B, C | 2.40:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | 87 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Amber Heard
Screenplay: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Country: USA
External Links
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I persistently try to maintain to my fellow horror fans, and to you, dear reader, that I am no fan of the 'horror comedy'. The reason for this is that 'horror' and 'comedy' are two opposite ends of an emotional scale, and it is a scale that shouldn't bend around and be allowed to meet. Fortunately, my recollection of how bad Return of the Living Dead 2 was has been wiped away with films like Shaun of the Dead, and this film, Zombieland.

Zombieland is the tale of a phobia-driven young man (Jessie Eisenberg) who lives no longer in the United States of America, but instead in a world he likes to call Zombieland.

Writer's note: the monsters in this film are not the traditional voodoo zombie, nor are they of the Romero type. They instead are human beings infected with an evolved version of mad-cow disease which cause them to act like the infected people in 28 Days Later. For simplicities sake, I will hereon refer to them as 'zombies' if that is an affront to your zombie fan sensibilities, bad luck: I didn't write the film, just this review.

Our young hero has rules about surviving Zombieland, things like Rule Number 1: Cardio. Apparently the overweight were the first to die as they couldn't escape the zombies. There are several others like Rule Number 7: Travel Light and Rule Number 31: Check the back seat. Basically his rules are the same ones we, the horror fans, shout at the screen whenever a young girl is left alone for any reason. I won't go further into the other rules as it would spoil some terrible funny and funnily terrible scenes of carnage.

Anyway, on his way back to Columbus, Ohio, where he hopes to be reunited with his estranged parents, he meets another seemingly bonkers survivor (Woody Harrelson) and the pair join up for safeties sake. This man tells him that names are unnecessary in Zombieland as attachments can lead to fatalities, and they refer to each other by their destinations: Columbus, the young man and Tallahassee, the nut-job with the tool shed in the back of his car and the obsession with Twinkies, a cream filled sponge cake that wouldn't really be described as 'health food'.

The two stop in a mini-market so that Tallahassee can attempt to feed his passion for pre-packaged cakes where, after they dispatch a few zombies in totally classic ways, they meet up with two young ladies, the soon to be known as Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) and the four decide to make their way to California together, and so after a gargantuan amount of personality clashes, and several con-jobs later, they all realise that being loners may not be the way to survive Zombieland.

This film is directed by first time feature director Ruben Fleischer, from a script by Rhett Reece and Paul Wernick that was originally devised as the pilot for a TV series, which apparently by its timeframe, it would have been the first zombie TV series.

The cast in this film were excellent. Jessie Eisenberg, who I normally am no fan of as he occasionally feels like a discount Michael Cera (or vice versa), was perfect in this role, and I couldn't have imagined anyone else doing it, especially New Moon's Taylor Lautner, who was at one point up for the role. Woody Harrelson is a classic as always as a gun-toting crackpot who has no problem sharing a few tears, even if just for his interesting ways of sending off the zombies. Emma Stone never ceases to amaze me: I loved her in Superbad, and as the hyper-nerd in House Bunny she was probably the funniest thing, but here she really makes this role her own: a femme fatale who is spending the rest of her life defending her younger sister. She is the straight man to Eisenberg's phobias and Harrelson's nuttiness, and pulls it off with ease. She is also a cracking good sort!! The youngster Abigail Breslin, who was nominated for a best Supporting Actress Oscar for Little Miss Sunshine is excellent as well, and holds her own against the other three personalities which could easily have overpowered her.

The cameo by Bill Murray is a classic as well. Especially with the tips of the hat they provide to things like Caddyshack and Ghostbusters.

The story is clearly influenced by Shaun of the Dead, though it's set well after the Zombie Apocalypse began so te characters know what they are up against. It is months after whatever 'the event' was, and the survivors are well into the understanding of what went wrong, so nothing comes as a surprise to them. To me, Shaun of the Dead isn't the only influence and I saw shades of Day of the Triffids, 28 Days Later and many others: I could even cite Final Destination as an influence just because one of the cool things about this film is the fantastic ways that the zombies and some of the 'living' are dispatched.

The special effects are of a high standard as well, and the CGI is so good that you won't even notice half of it unless you watch the 'making of' stuff. I was stunned by some of the scenes that weren't on location. Also, even when one of the rules isn't mentioned, but is acted upon, you will see the rule written somewhere slightly hidden in the scene, with a solidity usually only seen in a David Fincher title sequence.
Video
Nothing short of spectacular and presented in 2.40:1 widescreen.
Audio
With plenty of gunshots and a touch of heavy metal, this English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 kick MASSIVE arse. Simply, the nuts!
Extra Features
Beyond the Graveyard: Picture in Picture Track is a great extra, with a smaller window opening up in the main screen showing how effects were done, or amusing anecdotes from cast and crew.

Commentary by actors Woody Harrelson and Jessie Eisenberg, Director Ruben Fleischer and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick is a great one as those involved regularly ask each other questions about their aspects of the creation of the film, which keeps the conversation running.

In Search of Zombieland looks at the making of the film, and explores all aspects of its production.

Zombieland Is Your Land is more or less similar in tone to In Search of Zombieland, but seems to have more behind the scenes footage. If it had have been me, I would have combined these two together to make one really tremendous making of documentary.

Deleted Scenes is a bunch of scenes removed from the movie. They are: Zip Lock Bags, This Did Not Just Happen, Mum and Dad Would have To Wait, The jokes on Them, The Slow and the Weak, Girls Play at the park and You Always Think Of Something. Usually when I see deleted scenes I am quite happy to have seen them removed from the film, but some of these, particularly Zip Lock bags and you Always think Of Something, could have happily remained, though the rule number of Zip Lock Bags would have had to have been changed from number 2, which ended up being Double Tap.

Visual Effect Regression Scenes looks at the technical break up of four special effects scenes of the film, specifically Washington, Seat Belts, Banjo Zombie and Falling Zombie.

Theatrical Promo Trailers are a series of trailers that features Woody Harrelson and Jessie Eisenberg's characters giving hints and tips on how to survive the zombie apocalypse. These interstitials are titled Bounty Towels, Bowling Ball, Buddy System, Skillet and Swiss Army. Quite funny.

This disc also featured trailers for Bluray as a format, 2012, Year One, Zombieland and Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Zombieland is almost as funny as Shaun of the Dead, but maybe has just a little more heart. I enjoyed every second of it!

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