Posts Tagged ‘Zombieland’

h1

Cockneys Vs Zombies

July 8, 2013

Cockneys vs Zombies

As the name suggests, this is a very serious British period piece set shortly before the death of Queen Victoria, the general plot follows an assassination attempt on……

No, it’s cockneys, guns, zombies, guns, old people, and guns.  It is everything that you’d hope the film would be, scene stealing actors (not great actors but scene stealing ones), zombie action, and some of the funniest scenes I’ve seen in a movie in  years.  It is camp to the extreme, but done brilliantly for the budget and keeps the laughs coming.

I was fortunate enough to see this film as CONvergence, a yearly con in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, at a screening prior to it’s limited US release and with James Moran, the screenwriter, in the audience.  There was then a question and answer section after that.  So a bit of “history” on this film, it was the idea of the films director, with the original idea being a more serious film until James Moran got his hands onto it and turned it into a hilarious comedy/action film.  He had a few goals in this film, which included coming up with three things that he had never seen in a zombie film before, I would write what they are, but I only remember two of them and they are a bit spoilerish, albeit on the light spoiler side.  This film also has a moment that James Moran said was the best idea he’d ever come up with and that he wouldn’t ever come up with anything as great again, it is one of the most hilarious scenes in the film and very memorable as well.

The story is pretty simple, two brothers are trying to help out their granddad, but don’t have any legal means to do it, so they decide to rob a bank, while they are in the bank, the zombie apocalypse happens in London and they have to fight there way to try and save their granddad with various adventures and odd moments along the way.  What works with how this is written is, firstly it doesn’t take itself seriously, at all.  It keeps the jokes coming quickly, and with non-stop hilarity.  Secondly, the characters have their own stories and personalities.  Thirdly, for the type of story it is, it has a happy ending, and one that works perfectly with the film, I get a momentary chill thinking about it, it doesn’t seem like a happy ending was stuck on, but a sad ending would have been so out of place that it would have ruined much of the first part of the film.  And the blend of characters works well, you have a good sized range in age and type, plus none of the characters are pigeon holed into one area.    And Moran doesn’t do two common zombie things, firstly, he doesn’t spend time explaining where the zombies come from, they are found in a tomb, genetic experiment, contaminated ground water, previous zombie outbreak, who knows, but it doesn’t matter.  And lastly, he doesn’t spend time explaining about the head shot.  This takes place in modern day London, if you and I know to take out a zombie with a head shot, why wouldn’t these people.

The big names in this film aren’t really the main characters for the most part.  Alan Ford and Richard Briers, Snatch and Watershipdown respectively,  have rolls in this film and are on screen for a strong period of time, but aren’t the two major protagonists.  Rasmus Hardiker and Harry Treadaway play the two main characters, they do a good job in those roles, they play off of each other well, as does everyone else in the film, but they are minor names when it comes to American knowledge of their acting with City of Ember and Your Highness being the most recognizable names on their IMDB pages, after Cockneys vs Zombies (or at least I hope it will become that).  I should also mention Michelle Ryan who has been in a number of things as well including Jekyll and Cashback, her role is different than the normal girlfriend sort of roll she’s had and she apparently jumped at the opportunity to play a stronger smarter character.

Visually this film has a low budget, the make-up and special effects are solid, but there aren’t a ton of them like you would get with something like Zombieland, but it works well enough in this film, and zombies are so popular now that they had extras coming out from everywhere who wanted to be zombies.  One of the extras even sent a 20 minute screen test of himself being a zombie in to become an extra, he got a slightly larger roll than most zombie extras in one of the most memorable scenes.  But there aren’t any major mistakes in this film that I caught with continuity or anything like that, and with the type of film it is, who cares.   The music also works very well for the film, and a British Cockney band, Chas ‘n’ Dave wanted to be in the film ,but it wouldn’t work with their schedule so they wrote original end credit music for the film.

Overall this is a film I could gush over a long time.  Find this film, watch it, it’s coming out in 8 cities in the beginning of August in the US, but also VOD the same day.  It is hilarious, well done, and a feel good film.  My best comparison for this films is Black Sheep (NZ), but it isn’t nearly as bloody and gory as that film was, and I think it works better that way.  It doesn’t try and have the zombie horror jumps, it just is a very straight forward action/comedy film with zombies, and while zombies are starting to get over played a little bit, this is one case where they remain simply fabulous and work.

Critical Grade: C

Entertainment Grade: A+

Overall Grade: A

Just a quick reason for the grade, this film isn’t meant to be looked at through such a critical lens, there are films like this that are just meant to be enjoyed for the absurdity that they are, and if they don’t completely suck in other ways they can be enjoyed, so that is why this has an overall grade of an A while maintaining a C critical grade.

 

Advertisements
h1

50 Movies in 100 Days: DeadHeads

February 7, 2013

DeadHeads

The best way to put it is that this movie is a poor mans Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland.  It is a low budget zombie romance comedy that has a very predictable plot.  However, that is okay, because the dialog is hilarious with some of the better one liners and awkward scenes that you’ll see.  There are definitely some forced lines in there, but the stoner zombie has many a great line that makes it an entertaining movie.  It isn’t on the same level as the other two zombie spoof movies that I’ve mentioned, but it holds its own for an entertaining ride.

After waking having been shot three years earlier, Mike finds out that there are now zombies roaming the Earth, not a ton, but more so in his area.  Things go from bad to worse when he realizes that he is a zombie as well.  He, however, is a higher functioning zombie where he doesn’t just eat and kill but can talk and think, and remember bits and pieces of his old life.   He is befriended by Brent, another high functioning zombie.  Mike finds and engagement ring in his pocket and is confused until he remembers his old girlfriend Ellie, and he wants to go back and find her and give it to her.  Brent decides that sounds like fun, so he tags along.  Along with the help of an uninfected old man they manage to break the quarantined area (along with their new mindless zombie friend whom Brent names Cheese).  They reach the home town where they are captured again, but not before Mike almost asks Ellie but chickens out.  They get help to escape so that Mike to fulfill his mission (and this is after he’s remembered that it was Ellie’s dad who had killed him).  And he finally tells Ellie, and she still loves him and says yes.  That is where the movie ends.

The acting in this film isn’t all that impressive.  The two lead actors are okay, Ross Kidder and Michael McKiddy, Brent and Mike respectively.  Kidder is probably the better of the two, but he also has the best lines to work with in the film.  Benjamin Webster, as a jerk perimeter security officer is probably one of the worse performances I’ve seen in a long while, it seems like something you’d see in a poor highschool short film, he overacts everything, which I think is what they want him to do, and yes, his character is meant to be annoying, but it isn’t annoying because he’s a jerk but because everything is so over the top and you don’t give a rip about his character.

Visually you can tell this film is a cheap film to make, which is kind of nice.  Brett and Drew Pierce do a good job directing this film for the most part, and more so did a very good job writing for this film.  They keep the jokes coming and make them so they aren’t completely predictable in their jokes.  And they tie in other movies like the Evil Dead quite well to their film, which their dad actually worked on.  And for their first feature length film, it isn’t all that bad.

This is a fun film, crass at times, over the top at times (well a lot of the time), but it is a fun blend of a zombie spoof.  It looks a bit cheap in the quality, but makes up for it with the jokes and a few of the characters, Brent and Cheese mainly.  If you want more of a zombie fix, you’ll enjoy this film.  It doesn’t have a ton of depth, but they keep it a cohesive film and it moves along quickly and isn’t all that long.

Critical Grade: D

Entertainment Grade: B

Overall Grade: C

h1

Zombieland

June 16, 2010

Zombieland

This film is really the American version of Shaun of the Dead.  I know that some people will not like that, but a zombie comedy film, it is hard not to make comparisons between the two films.  They are both good in their own ways, but Zombieland has the standard to live up to, whereas Shaun of the Dead didn’t.

The story follows Columbus, a loner college student who has managed to survive the zombie apocalypse and is now fighting his way back to Columbus, Ohio.  Columbus isn’t his real name, it is where he is from originally, but no one goes by their real names.  He is one of few who have survived in the world of zombies because of being fairly anal about a list of rules.  The first rule is cardio because, as Columbus puts it, the first to go were the fatties.  They continue on with beware of bathrooms and always doubletap.  He meets up with Tallahassee, man without a care in the world who seems to basically love taking out zombies.  A contender for the zombie killer of the week.  Together they set out across the country where they run into Wichita and Little Rock, two girls who have been conning their way across the country, trying to relive a happy memory of Little Rock’s of an amusement park.  They steal Tallahassee’s vehicle and their weapons and take off.  Columbus and Tallahassee track them down and they all go off to Los Angeles together and Columbus falls for Wichita.

When it comes down to it, there isn’t a ton of a story to this film, it really is more about the characters and how to survive a zombie apocalypse than anything.  The performances are pretty good.  Jesse Eisenberg plays his typical role of the kind of nice guy who doesn’t have much of any motivation of cares.  It is a very predictable role for him, but one that he fills in well.  The star stealing performance is by Woody Harrelson who is Tallahassee.  Someone who can take out zombies with the flair that he does has to be a favorite character from the film.  Harrelson is someone who does a bunch of odd films, but really can play a wide variety of roles.  Emma Stone, from Superbad, and Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine, fill out the other two main characters.  The rest of the talent doesn’t show up all that much because besides these four we only meet one or two other humans and they don’t last long.  Stone and Breslin both do solid jobs in their roles, but the zombie violence and the focus on Columbus in this film really don’t give them as much to work with.  The other performance that people love is the cameo by Bill Murray (albeit a short lived one).  He delivers one of the better lines in the film as well and he is playing Bill Murray in the film.

Visually this film has some great zombie killings.  They range from the pretty normal (shooting them) to the completely absurd (dropping a piano on top of them).  Ruben Fleischer does a good job with this film and what he is given.  He gets good performances and he keeps the action moving along nicely.  The amount he has to work with in terms of story, which is really just the vehicle for zombie killing.  I think that is the biggest difference between Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland.  Shaun of the Dead creates more of a story and focuses on an almost more sophisticated (or maybe off the wall subtler type of humor) whereas Zombieland is pretty straight forward with it’s humor and focus more on the action.

This is definitely a good film and is a funny film in its own rights.  I personally prefer Shaun of the Dead just for the type of humor that it is, but the fact that there is a Zombieland 2 in the works is a good thing.  If they get the whole cast to return, I’ll likely check it out in theaters.  Definitely a very funny film.

Entertainment Grade: B+

Critical Grade: A-

Overall Grade: A-

h1

Adventureland

June 3, 2010

Adventureland

This film gets the unfortunate labeling a teen comedy.  In a world of films like Superbad being the standard, the subtle humor and drama blended together don’t match up the to raunchy expectations for this film.

Set in the summer of 1987, the story is about James Brennan, a college graduate who’s father has lost his job because of alcoholism.  Gone are Brennan’s plans for a Europe trip that summer with a college buddy, and fading is the likelihood that he’ll be able to go to grad school.  He takes a summer job at an amusement park, Adventureland, where he spends the rest of his summer.  The story then delves into some funny moments, but it is really about the development of Brennan’s character along with the relationships he develops with Em, Lisa P, Mike Connell, and Joel.

Jesse Eisenberg stars in this film as Brennan.  He and Michael Cera have this awkward sweet boy persona that shows up in every film that they do.  His  work since then in an action comedy Zombieland even has that same feel.   You feel sorry for the kid because he doesn’t have it all together and that is the type of role that Eisenberg is made for playing, the slightly awkward college kid.  Kristen Stewart stars opposite of him as Em, a somewhat out of control and messed up coworker of his.  She has a very bleak outlook on life and is almost overly dramatic but still less overly dramatic than in Twilight.  Bill Hader, Matt Bush, and Martin Starr provide most of the comedy in this film.  Hader is just absurd and Bush provides much of the physical comedy in this film.  Starr has a bigger role as his character, Joel, becomes a good friend of Brennan throughout the film.  He has a lot of great lines in the film many of them very sarcastic and intelligent.  A subtle type of humor that films of this alleged genre aren’t supposed to have.  Margarita Levieva plays the girl, Lisa P, who everyone wants to go out with.  A beauty who seems like the girl next door.  Levieva is a good actress and in this role she doesn’t get a ton of screen time, but she plays her character very well.  Ryan Reynolds is probably the biggest name (well, maybe Stewart if you are a 14 year old girl) in this film.  He plays the guy who is too cool for his own good.  He has swagger and talks about everything amazing that he has done earlier in his life even though he just repairs the rides when they break down now.  He is supposed to rub you the wrong way, and he does a very good job of it.

This film does a good job of creating the eighties.  With the greatest hits of the eighties playing in the background and the poor style choices of the eighties on full display, this film just seems right.  Greg Mottola, the director of Superbad which is why the two are so closely compared, does a good job with this film.  He takes it on in a different way (and he wrote this one as well as directed it).  This isn’t the romp/last party before college.  This is after college, this is when real life is about to set in.  Even with grad school in Brennan’s future, he has to be more serious.  And Mottola does a good job of creating this more subtle teen-angst (or college-angst as the case may be) comedy.

I understand why many people didn’t like it.  I’m thankful I didn’t see it in theaters and had heard some about it before going to see it.  If I had been expecting to see Superbad after college, I would have been very disappointed.  But knowing what type of film it was, I enjoyed it a lot.

Entertainment Grade: B+

Critical Grade: B+

Overall Grade: B+