Film Review: ZOMBIELAND DOUBLE TAP (USA 2019) ***

Zombieland: Double Tap Poster
Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita, and Little Rock move to the American heartland as they face off against evolved zombies, fellow survivors, and the growing pains of the snarky makeshift family.


Ruben Fleischer


Dave Callaham (screenplay), Rhett Reese (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

ZOMBIELAND begins with the Lady Statue of Liberty Sony Pictures Logo coming off her pedestal and whacking off two zombies, reminiscent of the time she drew guns from her cowboy belt way back when in 1965 at the start of the Jane Fonda western comedy hit CAT BALLOU.  Expect the same zaniness.

ZOMBIELAND takes half the film to pick up.  The first half is a little slow, boring and annoying wth little action, silly special effects, unfunny jokes and impromptu nonsense from the actors.  But be a little patient.  The film improves.  It calls for the narrator Columbus to bring the audience up to date with the state of affairs.  The audience is informed that there are three categories of zombies, the very slow, the stealthy and the new almost invincible breed.

ZOMBIELAND picks up, fortunately once a few comedic set ups set in.  It is clear that the single premise of human beings fighting zombies is insufficient material for an entire film.  One setup involves the meeting of Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) with a musician and their quest to find their Utopia, which in this case is Babylon.  The problem with this one is the really annoying musician boyfriend, (Avan Joglia’s Berkeley) who is as unfunny as he is unoriginal.  Babylon is a sort of hippie haven.   Another set-up, the film funniest and best has the two Columbus and Tallahassee meet their doppelgangers.  Each are unaware oftener own doubles, which make the situation even funnier.  Columbus’s double is as dorky as himself with his own rules which he calls commandments.

A little romance is provided.  One is the couple played by Emma Stone (as Wichita) and Jesse Eisenberg which is a little played out and manipulative.  The other between Harrelson and Rosario Dawson (as Madison) is the wilder but funnier one which is more in tone with the movie.

Performances-wise, Harrelson and Eissenberg deliver exactly what audiences would expect of them.  Harrelson overacts the way he normally does, screaming out his lines while jumping all over the place.  Eissenberg does his usual talky dorky bit.  The two opposites make the perfect unlikely buddies.

For a big budget zombie horror comedy, the special effects are excellent as is expected.  There are lots of gore and violence with some good vomit thrown in.  Chopped limbs, severed heads, gushing blood are plentiful whenever there is a zombie attack. 

The film’s climax is the big zombie attack on Babylon after the residents celebrate with fireworks thus attracting the monsters.  Special effects are turned on to the maximum with lots of pyrotechnics and explosions.

There is one last comedic set-up at the end so audiences that leave at the beginning of the closing credits.  Bill Murray plays himself being interviewed at some sort of comic con convention promoting what is his new GARFIELD 3 movie  When trying to churn out a fur ball with his interviewer, the interviewer strut spewing out vomit and while the convention is then attacked by zombies who are fought off by Murray.  

Is ZOMBIELAND DOUBLE TAP better than the original?  Hard to say as many will not remember the original (back in 2009) being quite some time back.


Film Review: VENOM (USA 2018) ***

Venom Poster
When Eddie Brock acquires the powers of a symbiote, he will have to release his alter-ego “Venom” to save his life.


Ruben Fleischer


Jeff Pinkner (screenplay by), Scott Rosenberg(screenplay by) | 5 more credits »

Discounting SPIDER-MAN, VENOM is the first of the Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Comics.  The filmmakers ensure that there is some brand distinction from the Warner Brothers (DEADPOOL, BATMAN vs. SUPERMAN) and Disney (THOR, IRON MAN) Marvel collaborations, so it is of no surprise that VENOM comes out like a hybrid of the existing Marvel action hero or anti-hero films.  VENOM is quite good and more to come would be welcome.

Ruben Fleischer who made ZOMBIELAND, makes a clear stamp in VENOM, which in truth is a horror story.  There is an alien parasite than inhabits the host, our hero and a nasty one at that – a shapeless gelatine blob looking like black jello gone bad.

Shot in both New York City and San Francisco, director Fleischer makes sure the audience is reminded of the filming locations.  There is a scene where the infected Eddie Brock freaks out on a cable car ride.  There is an elaborate chase involving cars and a motorcycle compete with special effects that is reminiscent of one of the best car chases in film history – Peter Yates’s BULITT.  What makes the car chases in past films stand out is their continuity.  This is missing in VENOM’s vehicle chase, but it is still pretty impressive.

Tom Hardy, the English actor who has proven his acting chops in LOCKE and LAWLESS and who has been in everything from DUNKIRK, INCEPTION to the MAD MAX reboot is a perfect choice for the antihero.  In plain clothes, he is Eddie Brock, the TV reporter  who has a hot show ‘The Eddie Brock Report’ who wants to do the right thing and expose the very bad people.  One of these bad people happens to be Drake (Riz Ahmed) of Life Enterprises who has just brought back parasites from outer space.  Drake has a weird and unbelievable (but, hey, this is a comic book film) plan of bonding human and parasite to inhabit outer planets when Earth fails.  Trouble is the humans and parasites do not match and the humans die.  But Brock makes a good fit.  Brock has a girlfriend, Annie (Michelle Williams) who help him when he is infected.

VENOM is largely harmless entertainment.  The monster does possess an enormous tongue, which the filmmakers cannot deists but use in a kissing scene.

VENOM contains lots of brilliantly executed action scenes all with pyrotechnic explosions and special effects combined.  Comic and action fans should be content.  There are also some crazy scenes, like the one Eddie, when first infected dunks himself in the lobster tank of a posh restaurant and starts munching on the raw crustaceans.  Williams and Hardy make good romantic chemistry.  Hardy is sufficiently versatile enough to pull off a crazy anti-hero performance, in fact one of his best.  Riz Ahmed, one of my favourite actors makes a sufficiently sinister villain.  Stan Lee makes his usual cameo appearance.

Audiences are advised to stay right to the end of the closing credits as there is a last surprise scene involving VENOM.

VENOM is an entertaining enough action hero movie and one should be eager for the next instalment.