Life Just Bounces don't you get worried at all. (A weblog of music and otrogenerica)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

"Zombieland" capsule review (warning: spoilers)

Highlight the grey (potential SPOILER) text to view it.

Clichéd zombie movie tropes + clichéd pop cultural tropes + soppy Michael Cera clone + overexposed celebrity actor cameo + zeitgeisterrific nod to currently-hip "indie" subculture + square miles of mugging and self-congratulation = big dull box-ticking overrated dud.

And hey, main character: if you're supposedly neurotic enough to have as many as 32 different rules for not being killed by zombies (that's just me inferring the total from the highest-numbered one) why miss out half of them yet feel the need to repeat other ones three times or more? Welcome to Zombieland, population: half thought-out.

At one point in this film, Bill Murray is asked if he has any career regrets. The smug, predictable, shooting-fish-in-a-barrel, circle-jerk-y answer? Garfield: The Movie. Really? Garfield? Not, say, pastel-tinged Orientalist snoozefest Lost in Translation or execrable sports-meets-product-placement headache Space Jam?

Objectively, Garfield (or its sequel, which Murray was also in, so he can't have hated the experience all that much) may indeed be the worst film Murray's been in. But what sticks in the craw with that line is its fourth-wall-breaking self-satisfaction and achingly safe obviousness, which sum up Zombieland perfectly. The whole film comes off as if the audience has been issued a crib-sheet of received cultural opinions in advance, and when the filmmakers flash up the relevant neon applause sign, we laugh/cry/opinion-form (delete as appropriate) on cue. They might as well have had the whole cast do a synchronised mug-to-camera to emphasis that Witty Banter™ is, in fact, in effect.

Upsides? The gore. There's shitloads of gore, sometimes quite inventive (is "goreography" a word? It is now), sometimes relentlessly horrible, generally pretty entertaining. There's some pretty good comic lines in about 5% of the script, too. If you can ignore the other 95% of the script, the actors and the general smug atmosphere, it's a reasonable gore film.

Since seeing this movie i've found out that the ersatz-Cera (apparently his name is Jesse Eisenberg) is going to be playing Mark Zuckerberg in the upcoming Sorkin-written/Fincher-helmed The Social Network (aka "The Facebook Movie"), so it remains to be seen if he's any better when not working from a script that's basically the equivalent of "The Zombieland Writers became a fan of Bruce Campbell and obvious meta-humour".

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