Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 12 November 2019

Review: 'Zombieland: Double Tap' – zom-com sequel raises the stakes and the laughs

Fans of ‘Zombieland’ will not be disappointed with this hilarious second outing

Abigail Breslin, Rosario Dawson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Woody Harrelson in ‘Zombieland: Double Tap’, the follow-up to 2009’s ‘Zombieland’. Courtesy Sony Pictures
Abigail Breslin, Rosario Dawson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Woody Harrelson in ‘Zombieland: Double Tap’, the follow-up to 2009’s ‘Zombieland’. Courtesy Sony Pictures

There is by no means a shortage of zombie movies out there. The shambling, ravenous, flesh-eating undead have their tight hold over pop culture. Every few months, a new movie or TV show that pits humanity against this apocalyptic threat is released. Zombieland: Double Tap cheekily acknowledges this barely a minute into the movie. “Thank you for choosing us,” the pedantic and fussy Columbus, played by Jesse Eisenberg, tells viewers in a voiceover.

This is just before the opening titles, when he – along with the rest of the cast introduced in the 2009 original – begins shooting, clubbing and hacking at a horde of zombies on the overgrown front lawn of the White House. In the 10 years since the release of the first Zombieland, there has been The Walking Dead, World War Z and the relatively tame rom-com Warm Bodies, to name just a few zombie-themed releases. What separates the original Zombieland from the swarm of other zombie movies that came out before and after it, is that it’s first and foremost a comedy.

Thankfully, this is also true for the sequel. Columbus’s 73 rules for surviving Zombieland are still peppered throughout the movie, as well as the gang’s bid to claim Zombieland Kill of The Week. Clever edits use the Kill of the Week as a device to show us how the rest of the world is faring in this apocalypse.

It is left a bit vague as to how much time has passed since the events of the original movie, which ended with that fateful showdown at the amusement park. Columbus and the cynical Wichita, played by Oscar-winner Emma Stone, are now fully an item. Woody Harrelson has reprised his role as the Twinkie-loving armageddon cowboy, Tallahassee, and has become the makeshift family’s quasi-­father figure. Little Rock, played by Abigail Breslin, is now a young woman, and though her age is never made explicit, it seems the most reliable marker for when this film is taking place.

Everything seems fine as the gang celebrate Christmas in November, exchanging items they have found around the White House, including a silver pistol that Elvis Presley once gave to president Richard Nixon. However, 10 minutes and a failed marriage proposal later, they are splintered once again. Wichita wants to get away from Columbus, whereas Little Rock seems intent on trying to find others her own age. The sisters leave behind a note, abandoning Tallahassee and a sulking Columbus at the White House, in favour of the open zombie-infested road. To Tallahassee’s dismay, the sisters take his beloved armored-limo “The Beast”, a Cadillac that once belonged to president Barack Obama, with them.

Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) and Tallahasse (Woody Harrelson) in Columbia Pictures' ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP. Courtesy Sony Pictures
Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson in 'Zombieland: Double Tap' Sony Pictures

So how does the sequel manage to stay fresh? By raising the stakes and having the zombies evolve.

Early on in the movie we come to learn that the zombies have branched out into different types. There’s the laggard and easily outsmarted Homer, named after the character from The Simpsons, there’s the relatively intelligent and cunning Hawking, an epithet in honour of the late scientist, and then there are the stealthy, silent Ninjas. Before long, the film introduces a fourth type of zombie: the T-800, a moniker derived from the Terminator. These flesh-eating beasts are harder to kill and will stop at nothing to devour their prey.

There are also a number of new characters that heighten the wit and comedy. Madison, played by Zoey Deutch, is a worn-out Legally Blonde cliche. “Do you know why she’s still alive?” Tallahassee asks of her. “Because zombies eat brains and she ain’t got any!” Dressed in bubblegum pink and towing Louis Vuitton suitcases, the ditsy Madison still manages to bring more than a handful of laughs.

Zombieland: Double Tap will not disappoint, especially if you’re a fan of the original. It succeeds because it doesn’t try to be anything more than what it is: a gory bit of fun.

As the plot moves from Washington to Elvis Presley’s Graceland (or what’s left of it) we are also introduced to the confident and level-headed Nevada, played by Rosario Dawson, as well as the doppelgangers of Tallahassee and Columbus, played by Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch.

Zombieland: Double Tap will not disappoint, especially if you’re a fan of the original. It succeeds because it doesn’t try to be anything more than what it is: a gory bit of fun. At a scant 90 minutes, the film is over before you know it, but the gore-com is as bloody and hysterical as the original. Essentially, the splatterfest has a sweet message about finding home in the ones you love. But screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who also wrote the Deadpool movies, make sure the message keeps from becoming sappy and hackneyed with its quick pace, snarky writing and lots and lots of guts.

Updated: October 21, 2019 08:45 PM

SHARE

SHARE