Here’s the thing with apocalypse movies – and forgive me if we’ve trod over this territory before – but when the world ends, the real world (the one on the other side of the silver screen) goes on.
The classic example being the Matrix. It supposedly was a replication of society at the height of our technological development, but if that’s the case, why did they choose a time BEFORE iPads, smartphones, and Netflix’s Skip-Intro Function?
And so, in Zombieland 2, there’s a tongue-in-cheek conversation between our beloved heroes from the last movie, and a new character called Madison (she’s the ditzy blonde who features heavily in the trailers).
In it she describes an app idea she once had (pre-end-of-world) where you can book people and use them as a personal chauffeur, “Because the taxi industry is super corrupt you guys”.
Our cast ridicule her notion for its obvious flaws – not least of which…. who the hell jumps into a strangers’ car without any vetted protection? (her solution – customers can rank each driver under some sort of rating system…) It’s a scene very reminiscent of the one in Memphis Belle – where one of the crew of the titular WW2 bomber tells a mate about his plan to create a chain of restaurants that serve the same food everywhere. These days that’s the goal of every eatery – from fast food to Michelin – but back then, the concept was ridiculous. Why go to a place far away to eat the same food you’d get at home?
Anyway. The more I type this, the more I think I have trod over this insight before…
But there is a reason for that! The Uber scene rams home the point that Zombieland (the first one) is TEN YEARS old. Which means as a universe it will never know Instagram, Influencers, and idiot presidents. Yes. That’s right. A world where zombies are real is a world where the survivors get the better deal…
Mind you, it must be said, the original film was released at the height of the zombie craze – which we can all believe was ten years ago – and as with a lot of films that are good (if not great) constant re-watching makes it feel a lot more recent.
But back to the film itself. Three of our 4 original heroes have all aged very well. Stone (Wichita), Harrelson, (Tallahassee) and Eisenberg (Columbus) all pretty much look like they did in 2009. But we do a LOT of growing and changing in our first 20 odd years, and so Abigail Breslin (Little Rock) who was 13 at the time of the original film, has done just that and her character is understandably restless. Because as crappy as life is when survival is day-to-day, the fact is if you can survive it (and our 4 heroes quickly show that when it comes to killing zombies, they are now a well-oiled machine) you look to horizons further afield.
So our family – after taking up residence in an abandoned White House (what a gag rich movie this would have been if the first film happened after 2016… ) soon find themselves going their separate ways.
This leaves room to introduce new characters and they’re all pretty much as you see in the trailers.
The afore mentioned Madison (played by Zoey Deutch – the daughter of Lea Thompson. That’s right – THAT Lea Thompson, as in Back-To-The-Future-Lea-Thompson!), who SLAYS the air-head architype. Avan Jogia as a hippie douche called Berkeley, Rosario Dawson as Nevada – a kick ass motel owner and Elvis fetishist – Luke Wilson as Albuquerque (a character clone of Tallahassee) and Silicon Valley’s Thomas Middleditch as Flagstaff – a carbon copy of Columbus.
All of them have room to play and own screen time, which does detract from our original 4 from doing anything super interesting or growing (character wise) although you could argue that’s not necessarily important in a film like this, as there is definite joy to be had.
Signature elements also make a return including awesome interactive GFX in the form of commandments – they’re the new rules! Plus Zombie Kill Of The Week – now in the form of Zombie Kill Of The Year.
And new components are introduced that expand the films mythology – all ticking off the Surgeons of Horror check list of what makes a good sequel. In this case it’s not an entirely original idea, but it’s still cool, because zombies and evolution are concepts that lead to outcomes that are never-not-interesting.
Scene stealer award definitely goes to Deutch. And although he seems to always play the same guy all the time, Thomas Middleditch is an immensely talented actor capable of very subtle and convincing range (just search all the stuff he’s done on YouTube with Pete Holmes. From L.A. dude, to French fop to gentle German, the man has some serious talent). In this case, we get to see him act….violent…
Zombieland was also, at one time, trialled as a TV series and a pilot was released. Which was not bad, but it didn’t go anywhere. However, that would have meant that somewhere with some writers, storylines would have been discussed.
Be interesting to see if they borrowed any to put into this film.
All up the end result is just as much fun as the original, which means you will genuinely lol. But don’t go in expecting ground breaking/mind blowing twisty insights. Because that’s not this kind of movie. It’s just sharp story-telling fun.
Although when it comes to incorporating really dark humour with clever GFX and left-field music choices, Deadpool is the standard bearer, so this film could have done to have been made a few years earlier. But then again, when your 4 leads are all academy nominated/winners, we should all be grateful we got a sequel in the first place.
- Antony Yee
PS: The Columbia pictures woman has never been as awesome as she is in this film.
PPS: There is also an (early) end credit sequence that brings back an old favourite. Well worth it.
I quite liked it!Hospital Administrator: Sara Yee