Film Review: ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP

TITLEZombieland: Double Tap

DIRECTOR: Ruben Fleischer

SCREENWRITER: Dave Callaham, Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick

STARS: Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Abigail Breslin, Jesse Eisenberg, Zoey Deutch, Roasario Dawson

RUNTIME: 99 minutes

CINEMATIC RELEASE DATES: Australia (17th October 2019), UK (18th October 2019), Thailand (31st October 2019), USA (18th October 2019)

HOME ENTERTAINMENT RELEASE DATES: Australia (TBA)

CLASSIFICATIONS: Australia (MA15+), Thailand (TBA, UK (15), USA (R)

REVIEW:

Flashback to 2009. A film called Zombieland was released, a film that I suspect not even the studio thought would even be a blip on the radar… in fact it was lucky not to go straight the DVD. The film was originally supposed to be a television pilot but was rehashed into a feature film, never a good sign.

However, the film surprised everybody. Not only did it become a cult favourite – but launched the careers of two young actors named Emma Stone and Jesse Eisenberg. It also reminded the world that Woody Harrelson was still a force to be reckoned with and showed that Abigail Breslin was capable of doing more than ‘feel good’ movies.

Now exactly a decade after the release of the original the original team have got back together to celebrate the anniversary by releasing Zombieland: Double Tap and once again it feels like the film will have to overcome some major hurdles in order to get audience goers to part with their hard earned cash. Comedies sequels to great comedy films are often let-downs, while these ‘anniversary’ films or reboots often do very little than sour the memories of the original movies. But everyone take a sigh of relief because Zombieland: Double Tap actually recaptures the magical formula of the original and is a more than worthy follow-up.

Just like in real life the film’s plot picks up exactly a decade after the original. Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) and Wichita (Emma Stone) are still alive and well in Zombieland. They are now well-adapted in a world where zombies reign supreme and have even identified the different ‘kinds’ of zombies that they are faced with everyday.

Columbus and Wichita are now a couple while Little Rock looks up to Tallahassee and a sometimes over-bearing father figure. And it is there when things go horribly wrong. Little Rock is tired of being treated like a little girl and decides to flee with a pacifist named Berkeley (Avan Jogia). At the same time Columbus freaks out Wichita by proposing to her causing her to go on the run as well.  However with a new breed of super-zombie (which are nicknamed T-800s) Zombieland is even unsafe as usual so Tallahassee and Columbus decide that it is time to try and bring the family back together again.

So how does Zombieland: Double Tap work when so many other anniversary reboot have failed miserably? The answer is pretty simple. The key writers and director, Ruben Fleischer, didn’t too much to change from what worked with the first film. They never did the tired old idea of just resting on old jokes from the past, instead there are just gentle nods to the first film there for the fans but as a whole have created a brand new storyline and simply just placed their characters in it. And the result is just pure magic.

The team also don’t make the mistake of flooding the new film with too many brand new characters. The characters that are introduced here, such as the brilliantly funny Madison (Zoey Deutch) serve their purpose but never overshadow the original four characters that fans know and love. The last key ingredient in making this film work is the fact that the writers know the limits of the plot and don’t try to exceed it. While they know that due to the comedy and horror aspect of the film that they can push the limits a little they never try to push it to the absolute extreme that would take the audience out of the ‘believability’ of the situation. The perfect example here is a Monster Truck scene. Yes it is extreme but none of the stunts used by the truck is anything that you wouldn’t see at a regular Monster Jam event.

Perhaps the best aspect of this sequel though is the amount of times the film tricks its audience into having them think they know what is going to happen next. There is a number of times throughout this film when you feel ‘oh I know what it is going to happen next’ only for the talented screenwriters to delivers a totally unpredictable outcome. The result is something that has been really rare in cinema today – a heightened amount of suspense that shows you that perhaps not all of your favourite characters is going to make it through this one alive.

With Zombieland: Double Tap there is no way any true fan of the first film is going to be disappointed with what they see here. The characters are still their normal selves and the storyline they find themselves in just fits with everything we have seen in the past. The comedy will make you laugh, yes the jokes actually do work, while the horror aspect only raises the suspense throughout the film. My only word of advice would be make sure you watch the first film before you go to try and enjoy Double Tap because you’ll be completely lost if you don’t. The Zombieland magic is back, so fans should embrace it happily.

 

4/5 Stars

Dave Griffiths

Dave has worked as a music & film journalist for over 20 years now. Aside from Heavy he does radio and various podcasts as well. He is the proud owner of Metal Cat.

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