Posts Tagged ‘Comedy’

Bi-Polar Reviews: Zombieland II

October 21, 2009


Horror and comedy have closer ties than many would believe. Raimi’s video nasties understood that the two visceral genres could compliment each other perfectly if used correctly. Raimi’s infamous Evil Dead series received polarised responses from audiences because of the juxtaposition from two supposedly opposing genre forms. Some people just don’t know when to laugh or cry. One persons comedy is another persons Schindler. Looking at Shaun of the Dead, American Psycho and An American Werewolf in London you can begin to see why these films have developed such intense cult followings while at the same time completely alienating other audiences.


Zombieland attempts to cater for both sides of the fence, but in doing so fails to address either genre convincingly. If this is America’s answer to Shaun of the Dead (and I am not the first nor last to make this comparison) then it says more about quality control of two industries with vastly differing pay packets than successes within the sub-genre. Whereas the latter juxtaposed hilarious action with a grim, washed-out physical atmosphere for comedic effect, Zombieland’s camera work is too crisp, to shiny, it simply lacks the flavour that came with the zom-rom-com cult classic.


As everything that happens in the film follows the lead character’s rules for survival to the letter, there are no surprises. Columbus seems to know everything in advance. The writing gets caught up in its own intertextual analysis and self-reference that it doesnt begin to address the gaping flaws in the narrative. The zombies never come close to turning the tables on our heroes; thus killing any tension there might be. Even with the odd’s completely stacked against them, their lives are never really in any danger. The self-conscious humour and guitar laden soundtrack reiterate this further.


Moving onto a deserted highway strewn with the detritus of the old world that once existed, our main character Columbus runs into the deranged Tallahassee (the characters are named after the place they come from). Woody Harrelson’s character Tallahassee embodies what the movie is and hopes to be, masculine, coolly stylised and charming, but a bit on the slow side. In the advertising campaign for this movie, Woody is the selling point, portrayed as the post-modern cowboy Snake Plissken. On paper and synopsis’ this is quite funny and sounds like it could work well. On film however, it comes across a little too patronising. For example Tallahassee’s catch phrase “time to nut up or shut up,” is repeated over and over with patronising efficiency.


If i’ve said “patronising” more than once, it’s because it underpins every aspect of the film. If you didn’t feel that way, you may very well be this movie’s intended target audience in the new era of zombie fanboy. A teenager with a short attention span and a thirst for twinkie advertisements and ironic pop culture references. Keep the humour current and at least some will find it funny. The problem with that angle, is that a year down the line the film will offer little more than a snippet into the year previous.

Good Cameo though.

the end


Pixar Intro 2.0

October 21, 2009

College Humor have released their own unique take on the Pixar intro sequence. How many times has little Luxo Jr got away with stamps so brutal they would make Keane shudder?

This is the consequence of murder.


Bi-Polar Reviews: Zombieland I

October 16, 2009

Quick point before we start.

If someone comes up to you and wants to tell you what the best thing in Zombieland is. Knock them the fudge out! You do not want the best thing in Zombieland spoiled for you, trust me.


At some point over the last decade zombies joined ninjas, pirates, robots and monkeys in the pantheon of one time film and video-game fodder turned full time nerd fixations. Coupled with the revival and movie interest, this spawned a thriving industry of in-joke books and websites dedicated to collating every cliché of zombie survival for easy laughs. Following on from Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland is next to have a good look at the sub-sub genre through a Wes Craven lens. The film follows four human survivors as they wander the requisite zombie landscape having post-modern discussions about zombie survival rules. There are many theories as to why zombies are so popular now, typically grounded in the ‘innate fascination with death’ hypothesis that needed a new home now that vampires have become exclusive objects of fetish for sexually frustrated novelists.


I think I have a better take on the popularity. Put simply, I think we love Zombies because we hate each other. Just think of all the people everyday who annoy you, bother you, get in your way or just generally exist . We all occasionally feel like were alone among a hoard of hostel, human-shaped ghouls. And so we all have, or at least have the capacity to have that private dark fantasy of grabbing the nearest blunt object and fighting back against the armies of humanity.

But since most of us are sane enough to rely on fiction to satiate these urges, were always on the lookout for humans who are universally despised. So much so, that slaughtering them is fair game. The Brits are top of the list (I cannot see why, the reprehensible oaths!), closely followed by the Nazi’s. But both of those enemies limit you in terms of scope and setting.


Zombies however, are perfect for any scenario. Zombies are just random people on the street under Robert Smith make up that identifies them as okay to kill. It is no accident that the greatest of all zombie movies takes place in a shopping centre.

Essentially the zombie genre is about individualist empowerment. The individual in Zombieland is one Jessie Eisenberg (see I was getting there), a self sufficient Über-nerd who never got on with humanity to begin with and is thus psychologically equipped for zombie survival. Jessie hooks up with Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin. The plan is to head to a supposedly zombie-proof amusement park on the west coast. Along the way, friends are forged, sardonic jokes are made and zombie clichés discussed. The film hits its stride in the second half, with a surprising cameo (which shall not be spoiled) being a particular highlight. The cast has a relaxed chemistry and seem to be having fun. Of the performances it is Abigail Breslin who steals the show; her natural timing is impeccable. With Signs, Little Miss Sunshine and now Zombieland under her belt, Breslin is easily one of the most promising actresses to have graced our screens in quite some time.


If your guessing that everything comes down to a big climactic battle during which manhood is attained and the killing gets oh so inventive– blue peter badge for you! It may sound strange, but this is the kind of movie that I almost feel guilty about liking as much as I do. I should be sick to death of the zombie genre and survival jokes that were perfected by Wright and Pegg. But there is no denying that Zombieland works, like a bad joke that you can’t stop laughing at. Take for example, Woodie’s character, you already know that at some point in the last act he’s going to say some variation of.

“Just go…..I got this”

And march off on a suicide run of such immense improbability, it would make Douglas blush. Yet, when it happened I found myself to engrossed to care. Go Woody!


ps. You still can’t jump though…


Charlie Brooker – Gameswipe, BBC4, Tues 29th September @ 10PM

September 29, 2009

From Charlie’s twitter:

charltonbrooker Gameswipe tonight! BBC4! 10pm! Partly aimed at ppl who don’t give a shit about games. Post-watershed games coverage = rare as tartan clouds.

Charlie Of Brooker

Charlie Of Brooker

Charlie, our national treasure, is back on our screens! Hopefully he’s as ascerbic, arrogant and angry as he was on Screenwipe as I can’t cope with another ‘You Have Been Watching’ scenario. I’m sorry Charlie, I’m your biggest fan but that show was terrible. You spluttering over canned laughter was never a good idea, and they should kill the person that thought otherwise!

Plus I saw him in reveal magazine (or some such other rag) talking about x-factor.

Fingers crossed though, this will be Brooker back to his best!

BBC4 10pm


Cemetary Junction Teaser

September 25, 2009

Cemetary Junction is the new comedy from Merchant and Gervais. You know the style by now. Looking at this little promo here; I don’t think they’ll be redefining themselves anytime soon. Then again, with the amount of awards received from said style; who can blame them?