Movie Review: Zombieland (2009)

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Published on: 2009.10.29

With a couple of exceptions, Zombieland is a fun, funny, and thrilling 88 minutes.

The basic plot is much like that in any other zombie movie: a few surviving people fight off the thousands of zombies that have taken over the world.

But that’s where the similarities end between this film and the ones that came before it.

The filmwork is superb, action scenes believable, and the dialogue is witty rather than full of clichés. Woody Harrelson, though not the main character, carries the film with his confidence, slight craziness, and willingness to do or say anything for a role.

The main character, played by Jesse Eisenberg, at first seemed like one of the film’s weak points. But he grew on me. He portrayed a regular person, a nerdy loner who survived the initial onslaught of zombies partially through luck, and partially through planning and know-how. His was the most believable character in the bunch, simply because he’s a normal guy with no special abilities.

Perhaps the funniest parts of the movie are the “rules” that Eisenberg’s character has laid down for himself to survive zombie attacks (#31: Check the back seat). The rules are superimposed on the screen as he mentions them, along with visual explanations. This running gag provided a central theme and constant laughs.

The rest of the movie is funny too, not so much because jokes are written in, but because real humans do funny things (especially in stressful situations), and the characters are presented as real people doing these things.

Another top moment is Bill Murray’s brief appearance in the film (playing himself). I won’t give away the surprise moments, but look for this when you’re watching.

I took off points for over-use of narration by Eisenberg’s character. A lot of what he said straight to the viewer could have easily been worked in as dialogue, except the parts right at the beginning. Sometimes it’s tiring when a third of the movie consists of the main character explaining things directly by narration.

Another point-remover was the lack of explanation for a couple of things. For instance, the main characters drive across the country in stolen cars (because the original owners are now either dead or zombies). But it doesn’t explain how they’re getting gasoline for these cars, or how the batteries in the cars are still good, even months after society collapsed.

Also, the theme park scene near the end didn’t make sense either. The characters are able to ride the rides without someone operating the controls, and the power grid seems to work just fine, though that seems unlikely considering the scale of society’s collapse in the film.

(I recommend that makers of disaster movies or writers of apocalyptic novels first read “The World Without Us,” which is a well-researched book that explains how much of our infrastructure would break down or at least cease to operate without constant human attention.)

Conclusion: If you’re into zombie movies, this one is a must-see. I’m not into zombie movies, but still loved it greatly.

IMDb: Zombieland
Wikipedia: Zombieland
Rating: R
(for horror violence/gore and language)
Length: 88 min. (1:28)
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Genre: comedy / horror
My Rating: 8 of 10
Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Amber Heard, Bill Murray

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