Posts Tagged ‘twilight’

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…


Money For Old Rope

October 9, 2009

Hollywood as we are all aware, has strong liberal sentiments. We watch the armies of Prius scurrying round the globe; vocally promoting the most progressive of causes. An endangered lab rat in Dubai, a boycott of a well known chocolate vendor or political conflict in a far far away land. But when it comes to progression within their own industry, Hollywood is the perfect example of cultural conservatism. Any person who has scouted the papers or dubya’s over the past year would be hard pressed not feel a strange sense of deja-vu. Film and Television it seems, has become obsessed with the past, redressing themes from the old to the damn near pre-pubescent.


Now you can forgive me if some of what I say appears just as unoriginal as the summer Blockbuster offerings. But the trend of remakes, re-drafts and reboots is becoming more and more frequent. The list of upcoming recycled properties is pretty staggering, especially when you look at the great filmmakers behind the texts. Filmmakers who have proven they have the artistic ambition to do something more original – have begun embracing nostalgic, more familiar material.


Step forward Steven Spielberg, the most successful filmmaker of all time announced that he will be ‘reimagining’ Harvey, the 1950 comedy starring Jimmy Stewart. Next we have Robert Zemeckis, another filmmaker with near-perfect credentials. He will be breathing new life into the iconic Yellow Submarine animation. Looking further, we have Bryan Singer’s upcoming remakes of Excalibur and Battlestar Galactica; while rocker turned auteur, Mr. Rob Zombie; still bloodied from the second Halloween set, is trying his hands at the tongue-in-cheek horror The Blob, the films third offering to an ever forgetful public.


Shoot ‘Em Up director Michael Davis is trying on Outland for size. Screen Gems is moving ahead with a new take on Peckinpah’s classic Straw Dogs. Believe me when I say, I wish I was finished – damn you hyperlink! Studio wise, were getting a Columbia Pictures remake of the 1990 sci-fi film Total Recall. Hancock director Peter Berg will have a look at Lynch’s Dune, Brett Eisner will reinvent Flash Gordon and Danny ‘Bhangra’ Boyle’s DNA Films is planning a new Judge Dredd movie. Terminator Salvation director McG will plummet 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, while Twilight filmmakers Summit Entertainment are having a ganders at the Highlander franchise.

blade twi

There are countless remakes already on the studio release slates. MGM has a new version of Fame sitting atop mount box-office; with a remake of Red Dawn in the works. Sony, which gave us a remake of The Taking of Pelham 123 this summer, has a vehicle for Will Smith Jr in Karate Kid; coupled with our chubby cherub Seth Rogen as the Green Hornet next summer. Mr Murdoch will also be throwing a few flicks in the mix. New versions of Gulliver’s Travels, The A-Team, and yet another Predator offering. Universal has updates of both The Wolfman and Robin Hood, the latter with Russell ‘fighting round the world’ Crowe taking lead and Ridley Scott behind the camera.

crowe hood

No, still not finished. Paramount will have us tapping our feet to Footloose next year and begging Murphy to call it a day in Beverly Hills Cop. Warner brings up the rear with Sherlock Holmes, Clash of the Titans and A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Sadly, the only thing new and exciting audiences will get from Hollywood over the next few years are creative justifications for what is essentially – money for old rope. In an attempt to distance himself from the original Blob, Rob Zombie insisted, ‘My intention is not to have a big red blobby thing – that’s the first thing I want to change,”. Thank you Rob, very nicely put. The only thing I would question is why you would want to call it The Blob then. Just a thought.

So, why are there all these bloody remakes? Apathy? maybe. Economic woes? quite possibly. Is it familiarity? That detective, is the right question.


The figures speak for themselves sadly. Since January 2007, the ten highest grossing films at the box office have all been sequels, reimaginings of established franchises or action movies based on comic book characters. The marketers would suggest that we live in an environment so full of Jeremy Kyle and clutter that having a picture with a little spice of nostalgia is a crucial selling point. If you can sell a film around some form of familiarity, something the audience can latch onto, then you might just hit the jackpot.


We live in a world where the whole concept of originality is being reinvented. Artists are simply hitting the replay button, spending more time re-imagining, rather than rethinking, redefining and re-re-re-re…

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