Review: 'Zombieland: Double Tap'

Category:  The Arts
Friday, October 25th, 2019 at 11:24 AM

Ten years after the original film, “Zombieland: Double Tap” continues the adventures of Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin). It’s a rare sensation — a film receiving a sequel after this many years and its entire cast returning (many of which, as the trailers will jokingly tell you, are Oscar-nominated and winning performers).

Unlike other sequels, “Double Tap” does not pick up right after the conclusion of the first film. Instead, it takes place in real time in 2019. And just like in real life, the world of “Zombieland” has changed.

Zombies are smarter, stronger and more dangerous. The survivors have grown somewhat accustomed to fighting or hiding from the horrors they face every day. The other real difference is the main characters themselves have grown and evolved.

Many sequels attempt to go above and beyond the original film, adding something new or absurd into the mix. It could be new characters, more action, or more comedy. And they seem to be created to do one thing: earn money.

“Double Tap,” in replacement, continues with exactly what made the first “Zombieland” so successful: interesting characters and events. We don’t need explosions, 10-minute scenes of action, or comedy for the sake of comedy. This film does not feel like a money grab. It feels like a direct continuation of the first film, and this is where it excels: it is simply more
“Zombieland.”

After a decade of traveling, the main characters have settled in the White House. The story between Wichita and Columbus continues a surprisingly natural progression of any relationship, and Tallahassee has taken on a sort of father-figure role for Little Rock. After some time in this dynamic, the group runs into conflict, before coming back together for one last adventure: finding Little Rock who has begun traveling with a hippie named Berkley (Avan Jogia).

The comedy, action and emotion are balanced throughout the movie. Everything works; never does it seem forced or stretched. The characters drive the plot of the film and that’s what makes it believable. There is no world-changing event that drives the story and no fragile plot device or MacGuffin.

This is why “Zombieland,” both the sequel and original, work as well as they do. The world is already established, and the characters simply coexist. It’s the strongest part of this sequel.

After 10 years, it’s difficult to believe the characters would retain all traits from the first film. Columbus tries to get over Wichita at one point. Little Rock seems to have the most realistic growth, as a now 20-something and the youngest she simply wants to be with someone her own age. It’s something the others don’t believe she can find in this world.

Unfortunately, only offering glimpses of that expanded world is a decision that hurts the film. Ten years have passed and both zombies and survivors have evolved. Multiple scenes suggest many continue to survive and even thrive in small communities, creating a unique culture all their own. There is even a quick scene where a researcher is shown, for pure exposition, suggesting a cure is being worked on. The electricity still works thanks to hydroelectric dams, but is only mentioned in a quick, throwaway comment. The world has begun to find a balance and the audience is not shown much, if any, of what has changed. It was a double-edged sword as we can focus on the main plot, but questions still remain.

“Zombieland: Double Tap” continues the fun and comedic experience of the first film, giving us more of the characters we love and adding a few more. This made for a lighthearted zombie apocalypse in an over-saturated genre. Fitting in a few pop culture references for those of every age, the film is a fantastic time for fans and first timers.

Tags: movie review

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