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You know, I'm conflicted about how I feel about the long-awaited sequel to the cult-favorite Zombieland. On one hand, you always worry about a sequel coming out years later after the original, because, most of the time, they aren't that good. On the other hand, you still have the team of director Ruben Fleischer and writing duo Paul Wernick and Dave Callaham that did a pretty decent job with this sequel. On the other other hand, I'm wondering how much more could have been done to make the decade-long wait worth it. Here are my quick thoughts about Zombieland: Double Tap.
So, you do have a great returning cast with Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigal Breslin returning as our lovable group of zombie killers. The writing and the chemistry between the four actors still feels fresh due to the quirky meta nature of the original still shining through. Even the addition of newer characters, like Zoey Deutch's Madison, who plays a very cartoonish valley girl that almost gets overplayed, but brings enough of a fresh enough take on the character to add into the chaos. Avan Jogia as Berkeley is also amusing, but isn't in the whole movie a lot. Of course, the ones most people are talking about will probably be Rosario Dawson's Nevada, Luke Wilson's Alburquerque, and Thomas Middleditch's Flagstaff. They are all funny and humorous takes on sequelitis-style characters that are entertaining. Plus, who doesn't like creative and/or gory zombie kills? I mean, unless you can tell the film was done on a meager budget, of course.
Still, I found the sequel to suffer from a lot of the sequelitis issues that plague these types of films. For one thing, could they not have come up with something more creative than a "stronger" zombie? Like, if this is supposed to be this over-the-top zombie gore romp, and they don't choose to go the Left 4 Dead or Resident Evil route? I also found a lot of the new additional story bits and entry points to social commentary to not feel fleshed (heh) out. You get the feeling that this script was meant to be made a few years after the original, but then had to be clumsily repurposed into being more fitting for this year, and I don't think it works as well. They could have gotten creative with the commentary in so many areas, but they chose not to or didn't know how to. I know some people will cry out that not everything has to have a deeper meaning or commentary, but if you are going to introduce new characters or interesting/funny jumping points for jokes and commentary, and don't follow up, then playing the "I'm in it for the gore" card doesn't work. The other big issue with this film is how it was shot. Say what you will about whether you like Zombieland or Shaun of the Dead more, but at least Zombieland looked great. Zombieland: Double Tap, on the other hand, looks more like a slightly higher budgeted TV movie or something on Netflix.
Listen, I love the original Zombieland, but for context, people forget how perfect the timing was for the original's release. It was right before we got flooded with zombie-related shows and films, and by this point, Double Tap comes off a little weaker. It still has the same spirit as the original, but not enough of the bite to be worth seeing in theaters. This is a film I would play once, and then never again. I'm happy it's doing well box office-wise, and I have no problem if you like the film. I would just play the other great zombie flicks I own first.
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