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CINEMA: Zombies All The Way Down

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ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP (dir. by Ruben Fleisher, 99 minutes, 2019, USA)

Dan Tabor_byline_avatarBY DAN TABOR It’s been over a decade since the release of Zombieland, the charmingly dysfunctional family comedy that just so happens to take place during the zombie apocalypse. The Ruben Fleischer directed film was the front runner of our current zombie resurgence, soon followed by the juggernaut that is The Walking Dead, which over nine years has run its course both as a show and as a fixture in the pop-culture landscape. Thanks to TWD I think every variation of the formula has been attempted in every media manifestation imaginable at this point. Ten years after, Fleischer is back with original writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who were busy with the Deadpool franchise in an attempt to breath some new life in a film about our favorite Post Z survival squad.

Zombieland: Double Tap takes place 10 years after the original with Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) and Wichita (Emma Stone) still together and now taking up residence in the White House. After spending a decade in close quarters, tensions are running high in the group as Columbus proposes to Wichita, and she gets cold feet and runs off with Little Rock in the middle of the night. A month later Wichita is caught sneaking back into the White House looking for guns and ammo in the hopes of tracking down Little Rock, who has since run off with a pacifist named Berkeley. This sets our heroes off on a mission to track down Wichita’s sister who is on her way to Babylon, a haven for those looking to live non-violently through the zombie apocalypse.

New additions to the cast include Rosario Dawson as Nevada, the owner of an Elvis themed hotel and Zoey Deutch as Madison, a ditzy blonde who survived the zombie apocalypse in a Pinkberry Yogurt Freezer. While the ensemble hasn’t skipped a beat with their clever comedic banter and rapid fire one-liners, it now has more of a retro flare this time around since pop culture references are forever stuck in 2009 in Zombieland, with this film even digging heavy into the 90s. Screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are as sharp as ever with a narrative that feels superficial and cribbed from the first season of the ill-fated Zombieland TV show. This entry is definitely leans more into the comedy, not taking full advantage of the familial relationships between the characters that really resonated with audiences the first time around.

The big question you can’t help but asking after watching Zombieland 2 is was this film really necessary? About 10 years ago, this film would have been a no-brainer, but now it feels a bit more like a nostalgia exercise that would show up on a streaming service with The Walking Dead having double tapped the zombie sub-genre two or three seasons ago. Don’t get me wrong, it was great to reconnect with these characters, which are a lot of fun. But at the end of the episodic story it leaves you wondering what was the point of the film as the characters simply drive off to their next adventure with no real consequences or any real growth. I guess if you loved Zombieland you should probably check this out in theaters, but if not it will more than make for a good Netflix movie night.

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