Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Film Review: Zombieland [2009]

EDIT (2013): WARNING - I wrote these reviews aaaaages ago and possibly don't even agree with them any more.  I have since discovered that one sentence reviews are a lot more fun.  Please see One Sentence Film Reviews tab.

Basic premise: the same as 28 Days Later...  Guy in post zombie-apocalyptic world, meets a few survivors, they do nothing for an hour.  News Flash: doing nothing is boring.  Now, if the world really ended, there might well be nothing to do with our lives other than continue to exist.  But this is a story; make a damn plot up. 

The only alternative Zombieland proffers to nothing is people vomiting blood.  Stuck between nothing or blood vomit, it’s clear there isn’t much going for the film. 

Certainly not the characters.  There’s nothing to like about them, but that’s because there’s nothing to them at all.  They don’t even need to be there, so little an impression do they manage to make. 

Romance rears its ugly head to the extent that there is a male and there is a female in the film, at which point surely someone involved should have been fired.  Have we not advanced beyond the pathetic need to add romance where romance there ain’t, simply because two beings have interlocking genitals and there might be girls in the audience who must be fed this vapid nonsense because they can’t possibly enjoy a story unless hooked by a whiff of marriage?  Perhaps that is too large a complaint at the media, and this failure to launch should be blamed on how utterly uninteresting and devoid of chemistry the characters (and actors) are. 

The one attempt to hook the audience is through the mild gimmick of the main character and (shudder) narrator Columbus having a list for how to survive living in zombieland.  It’s telling of how basic and worthless is the script that his list comprises over thirty points, yet we only hear about five of them, but have to hear those five over and over, until one might wish this plotless and characterless bland-fest didn’t have a gimmick at all and just sank into the obscurity memory will surely flush it down when the credits role.

As for the zombie stuff, it’s deliberately gross and occasionally sick, with a callous attitude to death that passes for the ‘comedy’ part of the comedy horror.  Luckily, it’s all so dull, it’s impossible to feel offended.

What really bugs me about this film is that I shouldn’t be able to predict with 100% accuracy every line, every tedious observation, every gag, every character progression, every outcome to every lame event before it happens.  But I can.  Every ounce of this film is mind-shatteringly obvious.  Maybe if it was made in 1900 and no one had seen a magical moving picture yet, it would hold some kind of interest for simple folk who didn’t know much about fiction because they were blind and also never learnt to read, and heck, were deaf too and lived in a cave under a rock.  But this film is from 2009 and it does nothing inventive, interesting, subverting or remotely entertaining.  And this isn’t helped by the narration.  By the end, I found myself crying in monotone, “Please, no, tell me more,” every time Columbus drew breath to tell the audience what had been blatant since the opening scene. 

No matter how hard a film tries to look good or have quirky ideas, if it is obvious, it is boring.  The only positive I can think of to sitting through this paint-by-numbers childlike attempt to create a piece of fiction is: at least it’s short.


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