'Zombieland: Double Tap' Review
October 28, 2019
When the first Zombieland came out in 2009, it was a pleasant surprise. The zombie genre was in its initial rebirth stage and self-referential humor hadn’t reached its peak just yet. It became the talk of every middle and high school around the country, creating a rabid fanbase that launched the careers of several of its stars and creators.
Now ten years later, the gang is back, still making their way through the undead infestation within America. But slaughtering zombies proves to create human relationship problems, ones that the survivors all thought they left behind. Also, there’s a new breed of zombie on the loose, tougher and smarter than ever before. With the physical and emotional danger ramping up by the day, the bond holding the misfit family together will soon be tested.
Directed by Ruben Fleischer, helmer of the first film and Tom Hardy’s Venom, Zombieland: Double Tap is a breezy 99-minute comedy. The atmosphere is light and joyous as the characters always keep their sarcastic attitudes even in the most perilous of times.
But that carefree attitude is also a symptom of the lack of depth and purpose to the story. Fleischer frames the narrative as a road movie, but without a meaningful destination or compelling journey to bring it all together. The comedy set-pieces here are more separate entities rather than part of a whole piece.
Fortunately, some of those disjointed scenes contain some great action as Fleischer embellishes the gory fun of killing (or re-killing) the undead. Slow-motion and excessive blood and guts soak the screen and make for an amusing watch. And even though guns are the primary weapon of choice, there is one top-notch tracking shot sequence that deserves credit for its creative methods for killing.
Written by the original duo of the first movie plus the addition of Dave Callaham, “Zombieland: Double Tap” still contains the same amount of self-referential humor as the first. This time though, the meta-jokes aren’t as fresh and are served through overly-expository narration. Just like the carefree atmosphere, this fault is part of a larger problem: staleness.
Ten years ago, this story and these characters were original. But now with “The Walking Dead” and umpteen amount of video games, the zombie genre has run itself into the ground. The writers don’t try to solve this problem and merely just try to joke about it.
That’s not to say that the jokes are bad, some of them are quite good. And the chemistry between the cast is just as good or even better than the original. It’s just a shame that all that talent is buried under a little-to-nothing plot that only serves the purpose of shuffling them between set pieces.
It’s fine and all to watch the same great characters do funny stuff, but there also needs to be a story to tell. The lack of a story here showcases the prime reason this film was nothing more than an unnecessary cash grab.
Ten years older and all Academy Award-nominated, the cast all return to do more of the same. Jesse Eisenberg is his usual fidgety and neurotic self as he spatters out his rules of survival. Woody Harrelson takes the top spot among the group and seems to be enjoying himself the most. It’s almost unfair to the others that he gets the best lines, but he makes the most out of them and is the main reason most of the jokes land.
Emma Stone, away from serious roles for a little bit, also seems to be reveling in the zombie carnage. It’s nice to see her let loose, especially since she does have a knack for snarky comedy. Lastly, Abigail Breslin gets the short end of the stick as she doesn’t get anything to do or say that’s funny, even if she’s pretty good in her seldom moments to shine.
Zombieland: Double Tap has some good moments, but they’re not enough to make it a good movie. But its inoffensiveness delivers just enough laughs to service those who have fond memories of the first one. Just like how Ghostbusters II isn’t remembered to this day, I feel this sequel will come and go without leaving the same lasting mark that the superior original was able to make all those years ago.