Archive for the 'movies' Category

A coming of age comedy with zombies? Yup, I saw Zombieland.

October 16, 2009

First, on completely unrelated note.  Happy 84th birthday to Angela Lansbury!  Everything I read about Angela Landsbury makes me love her more and more.  She seems like a gentle soul with such a huge heart.  As she nears the end of her life, I hope that she doesn’t think that she would do anything different if she could do it all over again.
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Now on with it.

Between illnesses I went with my brother to see Zombieland.  I cannot tell you how much I loved this movie!  It is worthy of being on my top ten favourite movies list.  It is definitely on my top ten favourite zombie movies list.  Woody Harrelson is just amazing and Jesse Eisenberg plays off of him so well.

When I played the Dead Rising* video game, I knew there would be a sequel.  I was hoping beyond all hope that it would be killing zombies in an amusement park.  Since Capcom decided to go a more traditional route, I was left disappointed. (For now. Once I play it and wield a broomstick with chainsaws on each end, I will be as happy as a zombie at a qulit festival?)  As soon as my brother saw the preview for this movie, he called me and we decided to go together.  We finally made it this past Monday (Thanksgiving, no less) and I am glad I shelled out the big bucks to see it in the theatres.  It’s a fun movie that involves killing hordes of zombies in creative ways and it made me laugh.  Repeatedly.

Manhola Dargis’ editorial review of Zombieland for the New York Times made me laugh even harder than the movie, though.

The real point and, depending on your blood lust, the pleasure of “Zombieland” is its appetite for destruction. Despite its throwaway jokes, a hint of romance and various ridiculous bits of business, some involving Twinkies, the movie is strictly a compendium of all the ways to off zombies, which can be downed with guns, of course, as well as baseball bats, gardening tools, a toilet-bowl lid, even a piano. Sometimes the gonzo antics work, though the piles of bodies at the end did make me flash on the Nazi extermination camps, which, you know, really killed the joke, too.

So close and yet so far away!  Yes, the real point of the movie was seeing the many ways you can kill zombies**.  I’ll give him that.  But, zombie killing = Nazi extermination camp?  I’m not seeing it.  I can’t make this guy not see something he wants to see, but is he comparing holocaust victims to zombies?  Or is he saying the victims were zombies?  I’ll have to rewatch Schindler’s List or any of the numerous documentaries to figure it out but I’m pretty sure that the holocaust involved actual real people really dying while Zombieland involved actual real people dressed up as zombies pretending to be dead.  I mean, I know that the Third Reich did some horrible experiments on people they deemed unworthy (namely Jewish people), but I don’t think they involved zombies.  How about a little perspective there, Manhola?

What the review didn’t touch on at all is the humanity in the movie.  I won’t go into any kind of detail because I don’t want to spoil it, but there was some really great scenes and commentary (albeit it comedy commentary) about The Meaning of Life.  The moral of this movie could be summed up as either “take pleasure in the little things” or “is it worth surviving if you are alone for the rest of your life” or both.

Take the scene where the four survivors are in a store getting supplies.  It’s a pretty useless store, being a souvenir shop and they end up trashing it just to blow off steam.  They smash plates and snowglobes, have a marble fight, play dominoes with a bunch of shelves and just trash the place. In a postapcolyptic world, this isn’t a big deal like it would be in the here and now.  But, in the here and now, it takes so much more to bring us joy.  For those four people, it was throwing marbles (or maybe they were stones?) at each other for a few minutes of mayham.

In the end, the four heroes drive off to face whatever they have to face to survive in Zmobieland – together.  The group consisted of a geek whose social life revolved around video games, specifically World of Warcraft***, a bad ass psychotic loner who would relishes in the hunt and kill of the undead and two sisters who will do anything to survive, including stealing the ride and weapons of those who are trying to help them.  In the end, they all realized that surviving isn’t worth is if they’re alone.

This is not a deep movie.  It’s a fun movie with really good acting and creative zombie killing.  But it’s not the abomination that Manhola makes it out to be.

(PS I missed the zombie walk this year.  I wasn’t going to participate,just watch on the sidelines.  But it was on a really busy weekend for us and I couldn’t make it.  Bummer.)

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*OMG! People are just so creative. (If you don’t get this, watch this, this, this and this. Yes you are a photojournalist and on top of saving people, you take pictures.  It’s kind of a douchebagy thing to do, really, leave people hanging until you get the perfect shot.  Or instead of watching, how about you play Dead Rising! Come on over! I’ll get us some snacks and my official gaming day drink and we’ll play all day!)

**One really great thing about this movie is that it showed that anything can be a weapon against zombies.  It’s true.  While the double chainsaw on a broom handle is definitely a cool weapon, using a toilet bowl top and a sledgehammer from those carnival games is just as effective.  Keep this in mind people.  Shotguns are good, but in a pinch anything will do.  But it falls short in one area.  When the uprising happens, there will be two kinds of people in the world.  Well, three if you count the zombies.  There will be those who will bind together for survival.  Numbers will help with survival and getting together with a group of people will be a necessity.  But, then there’s group two and those are basically the psychopaths.  You have to fear them as much as you do the zombies.  People who will use the uprising as an excuse to do all sorts of unspeakable things to others just because they can or they will be people who just snapped and will shoot to kill anything that moves.  There will be the good psychopaths, of course, like Tallahassee in Zombieland and those are the ones you want on your team.  But, until you know what kind of person you are dealing with, you should always be on your guard when you encounter anyone new.

***No comments from the peanut gallery!  Plus, I haven’t played WoW in a looooooong time.  Like five months.  I play Aion now so that make me a more sophisticated geek.  I’m not one of those Wow losers.  So you just leave me and my delusions alone, you hear!