Fans Really Needed This Sequel
The road trip through the zombie apocalypse continues with Ruben Fleischer’s Zombieland: Double Tap, which comes some ten years after his Zombieland caught the front end of the zombie resurgence in the ‘90s and rode it into undead lore. While a decade is a lifetime in terms of a follow-up installment, it doesn’t feel like it has been that long. Nor does it really matter as Tallahassee, Wichita, Columbus, and Little Rock are back in this genre-bending horror/comedy that picks up where the previous installment left off. Zombieland: Double Tap, is a solid genre mashup dripping with the same irreverent, sarcastic humor that so endeared the original to zombie/horror aficionados. Welcome, fans, to Zombieland. Where life is more than just about survival!
Double Tap picks up ten years after the events of the first film, amidst a post-apocalyptic, zombie-ravaged world that sees our heroes having taken up residence in the White House. Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) appear to be – on the surface anyway – an idyllic family trying to stay alive during the zombie resurgence. By sticking to a set of prescribed rules (i.e. Rule #1: Cardio - to escape a pursuing zombie you will need to out-run it, and this means being in good shape), they’ve been able to fend off the undead flesh eaters well enough so that their interests have since switched from protection and safety to more mundane things such as love and friendship, particularly for Little Rock who is now a young woman and is itching to be with someone her own age.
Also growing restless is Wichita who, after receiving an unwanted proposal from Columbus in the Lincoln Bedroom, joins her sister Little Rock as the pair skedaddle away from the overgrown and dilapidated White House to head out on the road. Naturally, Tallahassee and a lovesick Columbus take out after them, but it isn’t long before Columbus finds comfort in the arms of air-headed Madison (Zoey Deutch), who is hiding in a freezer inside an abandoned shopping mall.
Director Ruben Fleischer (Venom) returns, as do original writers Rhett Reese (Deadpool) and Paul Wernick (Deadpool) who have undoubtedly found a way to answer the question of whether or not we really needed a sequel. Of course we didn’t, but the first film was such perfectly-timed lightning in a bottle with so many great comedic moments, and such perfectly gruesome zombie kills that fans grew annoyingly persistent for a revisit. For once, the fans were right.
But several other things needed to fall into place for this thing to work. The script had to be absolutely worthy and, of course, the return of the principal cast was imperative. But who could imagine four Academy Award Nominees (Stone with a win) returning to do a zombie movie? Well, fortunately everyone agreed and the result is a pleasantly enjoyable little comedy/action/drama/romance film that occasionally rises above its lowbrow zombie tropes to remind us that family, home and reliable friends are often all we need to get by in this messed up world.
The film also stars Luke Wilson, Rosario Dawson, Thomas Middleditch, and Avan Jogia. It is also worth mentioning the memorable performance of Zoey Deutch (The Disaster Artist) who upstages everyone around her and very nearly steals the entire show.
Major credit must be given to Fleischer who manages to perfectly orchestrate the delicate tone dance needed to get the feel of everything just right. There are a lot of elements at play here, from breaking the fourth wall, to on-screen graphics, to winks and nods towards the genre, to a mid-credits scene. So it all comes with a high degree of difficulty. But Fleischer nails it perfectly and manages to give us something quite different while paying loving props to the original. And yes, he even takes a few jabs at the current inhabitants of the real White House.
If you liked Zombieland, then by all means don’t miss this one. Just don’t forget rule #8: Get a Kickass Partner – It’s always good to have an experienced zombie killer on your side.
(Released by Columbia Pictures and rated “R” for bloody violence, language throughout, some drug and sexual content.)
Review also posted at www.franksreelreviews.com.