“Run for your lives! The zombies are taking over!”
You haven’t lived if those words have never been shouted from your mouth.
The scenario of zombies overrunning Earth to satisfy their lust for blood have been in movie adaptations for decades, starting with “White Zombie” in 1932 and being popularized by George A. Romero’s 1968 smash hit, “Night of the Living Dead.”
It’s now 2009 and the fascination with zombies still hasn’t died down; in fact, it’s more alive than ever.
“Zombieland,” directed by Ruben Fleischer (“Gumball 3000: 6 Days in May,” 2005), was made purely for fans who want to see zombies shot down by shotguns, run over by cars and smashed to bits by falling pianos.
Almost every movie featuring the living dead has some sort of explanation for their existence, usually in the form of a chemical leak of some radioactive substance which infects an entire city.
In “Zombieland,” their existence spurts from a lady eating a bad hamburger and becoming infected with a strain of mad cow disease. That’s about as deep as the story goes as far as explaining the whole concept of having zombies in the movie.
The movie focuses more on the last remaining people on Earth, who start off in Texas. All the characters are named after the city they plan on heading to.
Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg, “Adventureland,” 2009) confuses fans by appearing to be the other famous geek-star, Michael Cera, but he quickly distinguishes himself by being even more of a wimp.
His mission is to find his parents back in Columbus, although he admits that he hasn’t had a very good relationship with them. Along the way, he meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson, “Seven Pounds,” 2008) who is the most badass zombie exterminator ever.
“Time to nut up or shut up!” Tallahassee says, just before entering a supermarket to accomplish his undertaking. His sole mission in the film (which he is willing to die for) is to find the one item that reminds him most of a simpler time: a Twinkie.
In the supermarket, after bashing a few zombies into a bloody pulp with a baseball bat and a pair of pliers, the two survivors come across the apparent damsel in distress, Wichita (Emma Stone, “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past,” 2009) who in reality, has a plan of her own.
Wichita’s sister, Little Rock (Abigail Breslin, “Definitely Maybe,” 2008), assists her sister in stealing the two men’s weapons and vehicle.
Along the way, all the survivors plan on heading to “Pacific Playland.” This is presumably the only place that has not been overridden by zombies.
It’s a fantastic zombie-comedy movie that has all the elements needed to please the blood and gore fans, yet enough of a love story to satisfy the girls that those blood and gore fans bring along.
When the women are introduced, the movie takes a turn for the worse. There’s nothing against women killing zombies (the more the merrier), but the problem is that the entire movie focused on the relationship between Columbus and Wichita for a significant amount of time and pretty much gave the zombies no role at all until the end.
What should have been a straight forward zombie killing movie was then complicated by a forced and uninteresting love story.
However, it wasn’t all bad. In fact, there’s one segment in the movie that pretty much redeems the faults mentioned earlier. Not to spoil anything, but Bill Murray makes a cameo as a zombie and, well, that should be enough to sell tickets.
All the actors played their characters well. Eisenberg is the unforeseen hero who has to overcome his fears, Harrelson plays the part of a guy who’s not afraid to wipe his tears with money, Wichita is the tough gal who gets thing done her own way and Little Rock is the 12-year-old girl who’s not afraid to blast apart oncoming zombies.
Speaking of zombies, the ones in this film are not your typical zombies. They don’t walk with hands in front of them in a depressing fashion – oh no, these little undead freaks run in mobs and strike faster than you can say “Twinkie.”
All in all, “Zombieland” lives up as the unofficial merge of the comical “Shaun of the Dead” and dead serious “Return of the Living Dead.” It’s an enjoyable movie and is just plain old entertainment. What else can someone ask for?
“Zombieland” is rated R for violence, gore and language. Distributed by Columbia Pictures, the full runtime is 80 minutes.
My rating is 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.