Cinepub


Review: Byzantium by Jamie

The vampire craze doesn’t seem quite as strong as it once did. Twilight is over, True Blood has essentially become a parody of itself and the Underworld movies… are they still making Underworld movies? I dunno. My point is that there is perhaps a waning in the interest in stories about Vampires whilst their undead brethren, the Zombies, continue to shamble on triumphant (though I honestly think that could change is World War Z is as bad as I think it is going to be). Still the effect of the popularity of these big budget Vampire efforts is that we’ve also seen some far more interesting, smaller films be released. Films like ‘Let The Right One In’ and it’s American remake ‘Let Me In’. It is with those films that Byzantium resides.

Let me start of by saying that this film is directed by Neil Jordan, director of 1994’s ‘Interview With The Vampire’ and it’s pretty clear why he was hired to direct. The main thrust of the plot of Byzantium, adapted from the play ‘A Vampire Story’ by Moira Buffini, is all about a 16-yeat old (well, technically 216 year old) girl, Eleanor Webb (Saoirse Ronan) who wants to tell the story of her creation and two hundred year existence as a vampire but being unable to because of the rules that she lives by in order to remain safe. She just wants to live and love and considers herself a monster. It’s, well, it’s a story that’s almost identical in that regard to ‘An Interview With A Vampire’. In tone, however, this film shares far more with Let The Right One In especially as the story focuses more on her developing relationship with a young boy named Frank (Caleb Landry Jones)

So yeah, it’s fair to say that in some ways this film feels like a mish-mash of two different vampire films but that’s certainly no bad thing when both of those films are great and you can’t help but give them a little leeway since the director of one of those films is also the director of this one. And despite this the film remains an original story. There are also a number of tweaks to vampire mythos which purists may find annoying. These vampires can go out in the sun and rather than fangs, they pierce their victims skin with a retractable claw-like thumbnail. However, they also seem to able to be killed in ways that would kill a normal human, though may be able to take a little more punishment before death would occur.

I don’t really have a problem with that in this film. The reason that the sun thing annoys me in Twilight is that it’s obviously done just to make the Vampires look pretty. It’s also not balanced with any weakness to anything else. It seems, pretty much, as though the only thing that can kill another Vampire in Twilight is another Vampire or a Werewolf. By all rights, we should be living in a vampire-dominated world in those films.

I think it’d be fair to say that this film will not be everybody’s cup of tea. It’s slow and ponderous as a meditation on immortality perhaps should be. There is also the problem that all Vampire films seem to have ever since Interview (though that film manages to avoid this problem itself) and that’s that there isn’t really a character who seems to enjoy immortality. It’s possible that Eleanor’s progenitor Clara (Gemma Arterton) does though it’s never really made one hundred percent clear. It seems as though all modern vampires are made in the mould of Louis. They’re all so mopey. Don’t any of you enjoy the fact that you’re going to live forever? So you lost your soul? You don’t need one if your never going to die.

Despite all this, I still really enjoyed this film and found myself hooked as more and more of Eleanor’s story was revealed. Like I said though, it’s not gonna be for everyone. It does have Gemma Arterton dressed like a hooker throughout most of it so, yeah, there is that as well. Four pints out of five. Laterz.

Byzantium.



Review: The Purge by Jamie

One of the problems with being a film fan in the 21st Century is that I often find myself unable to avoid knowing everything about a movie before it’s released. Twitter, Facebook and the internet in general have all left me with knowing perhaps a little too much about something before I see it. There are still, however, movies that slip through the cracks. The Purge was one such movie. I think I saw one trailer for it which I obviously didn’t really take much away from and then largely ignored its existence until it’s release.

On a week that I thought was pretty light on releases, I checked the Cineworld website on Friday and noticed that once again I had overlooked The Purge. I booked my ticket and decided to watch the trailer again. It was an interesting concept, I’ll admit, but nothing I was particularly excited about. Maybe something from a sub-par episode of Charlie Brooker’s brilliant ‘Black Mirror’ series. So it was with pretty much no expectations that I headed off to the cinema.

Now for those of you that don’t know, the premise of the movie is thus: It is 2022 and America has become a practically crime free utopia. The reason behind this is The Purge, one night of the year when all crime is legal. It’s a night which people look forward to with a mixture of excitement and fear, some relishing the chance to give in to their baser animal desires whilst others choose to lock themselves away behind state of the art security systems until the night has passed. The film follows the Sandin family who have made their fortune through selling said security systems. They have a normal night of waiting it out ahead but things go awry when their son lets a man who was being attacked into their home. Will they be safe with the man in the house and what will happen when those who had been hunting him show up to finish the job?

So what did I think of it? Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised. Things are perhaps a little too slow to start off with but once the plot really gets underway, the movie becomes increasingly tense to a degree that I don’t think I’ve really felt since the first ‘Rec’ movie. And while that first act of the movie is slow, it does set the characters up as a believable family which serves the movie well during those tense scenes later.

Now the film is not perfect by any means. There are aspects which have no real explanation. The son, for example has a watch with which he monitors his heartbeat but no reason is given for this and it seems as though it’s only there to serve as a prop for something which happens later during the scene. I get the feeling that the movie is trying to say something about society as well. The man who is attacked is homeless and wears dogtags around his neck, something which I thought would be addressed, like a kind of “Oh, isn’t it ironic that this veteran is being hunted after fighting to preserve the freedom these people enjoy” kind of thing, but it never is. The people hunting him are privileged kids just looking for a thrill and hoping to purge, an act which they see as their right as American citizens. So the message of the movie is something about the rich using the poor as an expendable resource and whilst the film certainly hammers at this message, pretty much saying that outright at points, it’s never one which really feels as hard-hitting as I’m sure the film makers intended.

Another problem with the film is that it’s overly predictable. Without wanting to give too much away, as soon as certain characters reappear during towards the end of the film, you know exactly what direction it’s going to go in. Still, to the film makers ‘credit, the ending plays out well and with a good deal of humour, particularly regarding just how awkward things would be once the night is over.

Still, over all this a strong thriller with a somewhat original concept and even in a crowded theatre filled with loud, noisy teens, the tension came through the screen. God, I feel old having just typed that last sentence… Anyway, I really recommend this film, though perhaps give it a little while or try and see it in a cinema which you know will be a little closer to empty. Three pints out of five. Laterz.

The Purge.



Review: The Hangover Part III by Jamie

In 2009 a little comedy film about four friends travelling to Las Vegas for a bachelor party was released and took the world by storm. It took a concept we could all understand, getting so fucked up that you can’t remember anything about the night before, and built a comedic mystery around it. It was a crude comedy that actually had a decent plot but more importantly, the characters were great and that was important because this kind of comedy absolutely depends on the characters. It would be the cinematic breakthrough for the actors portraying those characters as well, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis were all propelled to a level of fame they hadn’t had before and the world was glad of it.

Then in 2011, the sequel was released. It was pretty much the exact same plot except this time the Wolfpack found themselves in Bnagkok. There were many complaints about it being the exact same movie and to a certain degree those criticisms were valid. Still, I enjoyed it for the most part because I liked the charactes and getting to see another one of their adventures was, for the most part, enjoyable.

So no we come to 2013 and the release of the trilogy ending Part three. I rewatched the first two before going to see it at the cinema and so I was looking forward to it. Yes, it would most likely be the exact same thing all over again but I accepted that and was just looking forward to laughing for a bit. Fuck, was I wrong.

The Hangover Part III is literally the definition of a disappointing sequel. The second asked you to buy into the conceit that the same thing could happen to these guys all over again and I did. I was ready to buy into that conceit again. Unfortunately it seems as though Todd Philips heard the criticisms regarding this and decided that if people wanted something different, he would give them something different. And so he did. There is no hangover. He completely removed the mystery element from the plot. Sure, there’s something there which has some of the trappings of a mystery but it really isn’t. Instead it’s just a straightforward story with little hints of mystery that all get solved far to quickly and that just isn’t fun.

It isn’t just not fun for the audience however. Everyone in the film looks like they’re just here due to contractual obligations. No one wants to be here as they’ve moved on to bigger and better things. This is mostly apparent through Bradley Cooper’s performance. It’s almost like he’s begrudgingly helping a friend move house, that’s the impression you get from him. If the film’s cast can’t even be bothered to care about this movie then why should I?

It may be as a result of this disregard for the quality of the film and the boredom of the actors that all of the characters seem off as well. In the first film, Alan was a naïve manchild that you could feel somewhat sympathetic towards. In the second film he became a little more of an asshole but for the most part he was still someone you could enjoy. The third film, however, just decides to make him a complete dick. He’s a dick to his mother, a dick to his friends with the exception of Phil who it almost seems as though he just wants to fuck now. If you can’t feel sympathy for the character than there’s absolutely no reason to care about him at all and I didn’t.

But perhaps the second biggest problem with this movie is the larger role for Chow. Again, in the first movie he was a somewhat minor character without much screen time. The second increased his role and he was certainly irritating but again, his screen time was somewhat limited. Part three is Chow’s movie and Jesus fuck is it annoying. I’ll be honest, I’m really starting to hate Ken Jeong and this is a major problem because it seems as though he will be in every comedy film forever and ever. The character he plays is just an asshole.

And so we come to the biggest problem with this movie. Everyone is a fucking asshole. Like I said before, in the first film Alan was sympathetic. Stu was the straight-laced one who had gotten in over his head and Phil was admittedly an asshole but in some weird way he kept the group together and kept the plot moving forward. In this film there is no distinction between the characters any more. Everyone is just a fucking asshole. Ok, maybe Alan is different in that he’s a slightly stupider asshole than the others but still, a fucking asshole. And you know what? There’s nothing entertaining or funny about watching a bunch of fucking assholes being fucking assholes to each other so that they can save their fucking asshole of a friend.

Is there anything redeeming about this film? Anything at all? Well, I guess there’s small mercy in the fact that it’s the shortest film in the series. And on reflection, I guess there were a few moments that made me chuckle and the scene during the credits is actually funny but other than that, this movie is an irredeemable piece of shit that tarnishes an otherwise enjoyable if not always groundbreaking series. A half pint out of five. Fuck this movie.

No, seriously, fuck this fucking movie.



Review: The Big Wedding by Jamie

Oh boy. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Weddings! They’re a joyous occasion that bring people together to celebrate the love of two individuals! Or they’re a ridiculously outdated concept that go against the natural instincts of the human animal! Whichever way you slice it, I think we can all agree that weddings are a thing that exist. And because of their existence, Hollywood makes movies out of them. The wedding comedy is a cinema mainstay that will probably around as long as the ridiculous tradition itself. It makes sense. Weddings are big, meticulously planned affairs where strangers are forced to mingle and there’s a great deal of alcohol. Any number of things can go wrong. It’s perfect comedy fodder.

It’s because of the familiarity of the setting and an almost inborn understanding of the premise that so many wedding comedies get produced. These are movies that will play to the largest possible audience because everyone understands them. Also they can be produced relatively cheaply. This combination of cheap production and large audience draw means that these kinds of films are always guaranteed to make some kind of money. They don’t even need to be big box office smashes. They just need to exist.

And so we come to 2013s entry in the big wedding comedy genre titled, erm, “The Big Wedding”. Has it got stars? It’s got Robert De Niro! Susan Sarandon! Diane Keaton! Robin Williams is there also! And you know what? Everyone in this film does a perfectly fine job. No one is terrible, nobody sucks. Everybody does just fine. It’s just that when you get a big cast together, they really should have something great to work with. The Big Wedding leave them with nothing.

Well, not entirely nothing. You’re average wedding comedy is generally not excessively crude. It’s the kind of thing a woman, her grown up daughter and the grandmother can all enjoy together. The Big Wedding decides not to go that route. Within the first twenty minutes or so, Robert De Niro has nearly eaten out Susan Sarandon and called his ex-wife (Keaton) a cunt. Am I shocked by this kind of humour? No, of course not but you know who hates the word cunt? Particularly when it‘s being used to refer to a woman? My mum. And that’s the problem with this movie.

Who is the target audience? You can’t have sophomoric, sub-frat boy jokes based on curse words and cunnilingus and expect an older crowd that would be attracted by the casting of De Niro, Keating and Sarandon in a wedding comedy and expect them to enjoy it. You can’t have a wedding comedy and expect a bunch of young guys who might be more inclined to laugh at your crude humour to show up. This movie does not know what it wants to be who or it wants to appeal to and therefore it ends up appealing to nobody. It’s like an adult version of the Smurfs movie. No, I don’t mean it contains Smurf porn but in The Smurfs they made a movie about tiny, blue cartoon characters but included a subplot involving an ad-exec who’s not doing great at a job, has a pregnant wife and he’s not sure if he wants to actually have a baby or not. You know, the kinds of things kids love!

So yes, just who this movie is aimed at is a massive problem but then so is everything else. It’s the same old tired plot line we’ve seen a thousand times before from exactly these kinds of movies but with a thin layer of crude comedy painted on top to make it seem freh. There are two characters pretending to be married, parents disapproving of the groom, a girl who doesn’t get along with her father, a boy trying to lose his virginity. Everything is telegraphed and you know exactly from the opening few scenes just where this movie is going to go.

In conclusion, it’s like I said nobody is terrible in this movie but no one is exactly acting their socks off. It’s pretty clear that this is a pay check for everyone involved. I’ll admit that I chuckled here and there but that’s about it. I saw this at a pretty full screening and I can’t really think of any times when everyone laughed out loud. In fact, it was kind of weird just how quiet the audience remained throughout. There was definitely a bad atmosphere projected from the crowd toward the movie and it did end up feeling weirdly uncomfortable. I will say that I kind of enjoyed Topher Grace’s performance the most but that’s because he was basically playing a thirty year old version of Eric Foreman, his character from That 70s Show and I used to love that show growing up. Oh, and I did enjoy some of the humour about Catholicism but I’m a sucker for jokes about religion so take that with a grain of salt. Overall there’s just not that much to recommend though. One pint out of five. Laterz. And yeah, I know I didn’t do a synopsis. Do you really care what it’s about. If you do then just watch the trailer below and you have my pity.

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Review: Epic by Jamie

I often moan about 3D. I find it unnecessary and it generally takes away from the cinema experience rather than enhance it. When I saw Toy Story 3, for example, I’d forgotten that I was even watching it in 3D after around ten minutes. If that’s the case, then what’s the point? Of all the 3D movies I’ve seen, only two have ever impressed me. Piranha 3D which used the 3D as the gimmick it is, and Transformers 3 though that may have been me trying to grasp onto anything I could possibly enjoy from that shit pile.

And so it is that for the most part I see movies in 2D whenever possible. But sometimes that isn’t possible like when a preview screening of Epic sells out in 2D because the world is an annoying place. So after much bitching and moaning I buckled down, paid the extra money for the “3D experience” and the stupid 3D glasses as well. And goddamnit, it was actually worth it this time. For the first time that I can remember, the 3D actually added something. It probably has to do with the nature of the movie. In a forest, you really can make a depth of vision that’s noticeable especially when you’re experiencing it at the height of a bug. So yes, first off I’ll admit that the 3D was actually good throughout and I’d recommend seeing it this way if you do choose to see it.

Still 3D isn’t the reason people go to the cinema. They want to be entertained. They want to see something new. Epic succeeds on the first part, the second well kinda. Obviously this is a story we’ve all seen before, inhabitants of a forest trying to save said forest. An outsider being shrunk down and helping in that battle is also something we’ve seen before. Yes, Epic is very, very similar to “Ferngully: The Last Rainforest” except now we have a snail and a slug instead of a bat as the comic-relief.

So yeah, you know the story. There’s a scientist named Professor Bomba (Jason Sudeikis) who’s obsessed with discovering a race of tiny men that he believes live in the forest. His daughter MK (Amanda Seyfried) comes to stay with him after her mother dies but believes him to be insane because of said obsession. Events unfurl that lead to MK being shrunk, finding out that her dad was right and having to help the tiny race known as the Leaf Men fight their enemy, The Boggans, who spread rot.

Honestly, the film sounds like it’s literally been reassembled from the assorted carcass of other movies like some kind of Frankenfilm’s monster. Take a bit of Ferngully, a bit of ‘Honey I Shrunk The Kids’, a little ‘Lord of the Rings’, stitch it all together and you get Epic. Despite all that there is an enjoyable story here and there’s some innovative stuff that I’ve never seen on film before like the theory that Bomba comes up with that we can’t see the race of little people because they live faster than we do. Hence when MK is shrunk, all the larger animals seem to be moving in slow motion. It’s not completely insane. Pigeons, for example, see in slow motion. That’s why they leave it until the last second before moving out of the way of danger. They’re not completely stupid… Just partially stupid.

The voice talent is all pretty good. Biggest surprise was Steven Tyler as an old caterpillar (caterpillars do not work that way) called Nim Galuu. His voice fit the role well and he did a pretty decent job. The slug and the snail voiced by Aziz Ansari and Chris O’Dowd respectively were entertaining enough. Sure, they had a few jokes that fell flat but the kids in the audience seemed to enjoy them so fair enough. The stand out, however, is of course Christoph Waltz as Mandrake, the villain. What can I say? He’s Christoph fucking Waltz for fucks sake, of course he’s good. Perhaps most interesting for the character itself was that he has a son and he actually seems proud of him. This is surprising because normally when a villain has a child, they find them bumbling or incompetent and quite an embarrassment. This was a nice change. Also Mandrake wears the skin of a bat which may have been a mistake on the film makers part. You expect me to root against a character wearing a bat cape and cowl? For shame.

Another big surprise was Colin Farrell as Ronin, the leader of the Leaf Men. He brings a lot of humanity to a character that, in a lesser film, would just be a gruff hard ass who’s always getting on the case of the male lead, Nod (Josh Hutcherson). Instead he’s a layered character who cares about Nod due to his relationship with Nod’s father and it’s his unresolved emotional feelings towards the Queen of the forest (Beyonce Knowles) and his strong sense of duty that really drive him on his quest.

So yeah, overall a perfectly enjoyable film and one that is actually improved through it’s use of 3D. There’s a battle sequence early on between the Leaf Men and the Boggans that’s fast paced and extremely lively just because of the way they’ve used the depth and vibrancy that the 3D provides them and I applaud them for it. Still, it probably doesn’t quite deserve the title Epic. Maybe Good but who’s going to see a movie just called Good? No one. There are moments where the film seems to slow down just a little too much and he relationship between the two leads never really develops naturally like it should. I’d probably rank this just below your better non-Pixar CGI films. It never really reaches the heights of ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ or ‘Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs’ but it’s certainly better than stuff like the Ice Age or Madagascar sequels. Three pints out of five. Laters.

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Review: The Great Gatsby by Jamie

Warning: This review may feature spoilers for a book that was first published in 1925 and that you can easily read in an afternoon…

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.

“Whenever you feel like criticizing any film,” he told me, “just remember that all the movies in this world haven’t had the advantages that Jaws had.”

In consequence, I’m inclined to reserve all judgments, a habit that has led to the discovery of many curious hidden gems and also made me the victim of not a few films that were best left not viewed by the eyes of anyone.

And, after boasting this way of my tolerance, I come to the admission that it has a limit… I’m sorry, I’ll stop now. The point is that I saw ‘The Great Gatsby’ after reading/listening to the book and watching all four of Baz’s previous films. At the end of all this preparation I came to two conclusions. The first was that I really liked F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 book which is beautifully written and a mesmerizing account of regret, the decay of the American dream and unfulfilled hope and a stunning portrayal of decadently rich youths during the 1920s in America. The second was that for the most part I really like Baz Luhrmann films. There are quibbles here and there and none of them are making it into my top ten but for the most part all four films are entertaining in one way or another. So it was with somewhat raised expectations that I went into the Great Gatsby.

I shall spare you the normal lengthy synopsis because, as I believe I may have mentioned earlier, The Great Gatsby is based on a novel from 1925 which can easily be read in the course of an afternoon. Now the important things. Is it any good? Well, yes and no. As a film it’s certainly the kind of entertaining thing you’d expect from Baz Luhrmann. It’s bright, it’s brash, it’s glitzy and it’s glamorous. It’s a visual feast that’s at times reminiscent of ‘Moulin Rouge’. As an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book, however, it’s woefully inadequate. Sure, the major beats of the story are there but that’s all it feels like Luhrmann’s doing, making sure he hit’s the very basic beats of the story without any of the substance. It’s as though he brought in an exorcist that removed the soul from the story.

At it’s very worst, the framework of the novel feels like it’s being used as a means for Luhrmann to get from one elaborate, raucous set-piece to the next. At it’s best you’ll walk away from the film knowing what the story is without really knowing what it’s about.

In the novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald manages to make you feel something for the characters be it revulsion, sympathy or at times a strange mixture of the two which I have dubbed revulpathy. In the film I end up feeling very little for anyone, not that it’s any of the actors fault in particular. They’re all perfectly serviceable with the exception of Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker and Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby. To me, Maguire almost seems like he’s just playing his Peter Parker but in 1920s era costume. Somewhere along the line, Maguire seems to have been the go to guy for wide-eyed naivety but to me he always just seems to come of more as something of a gormless buffoon.

DiCaprio, on the other hand, is on the other end of the scale. He does more than a serviceable job. He’s the one bright star in the film in that his portrayal of Gatsby is pretty damn great. Out of the whole thing, his was the character I came closest to caring about though still the nature of the movie left me just short of that.

As for Debicki, well, she’s actually fine it’s just that the character of Jordan seems to be almost completely cut from the story after Gatsby’s first party and any further relationship between her and Nick is barely even hinted at.

The same goes for other characters who have vital scenes in the book such as the Owl-Eyes and Meyer Wolfsheim, both of whom I would argue are vital to the books ending, who are here little more than cameos early on in the movie. Then there’s the case of Henry C. Gatz who is cut altogether. The fact that Luhrmann seems to pay far more attention to the beginning of the book rather than it’s conclusion just seems to add more weight to the accusation that the director cares far more about putting scenes of big, glitzy 1920s era parties, most of which occur in the first half of the book, on film than he does the actual story he’s supposedly adapting.

Then there’s the music. Oh boy. You see, these big, glitzy 1920s era parties all feature music which blends jazz of the time with modern hip-hop and other modern music styles. I can understand what they were going for. I get that you wanted to get across the point that hip-hop today is like jazz was in the 20s. And I liked the use of modern music in Moulin Rouge. It fit there because the 1900s of that film is portrayed as some kind of insane, cartoonish reality, it shows the characters as being really ahead of their time and it just works. This, however, is supposedly an adaptation of The Great Gatsby. It’s jarring. Really jarring and it completely took me out of the film every time. Don’t get me wrong either. For the most part, I really liked the music. It just doesn’t fit.

And so we come to the end the review and what’s left to say? Well, like I said, as a film it’ll keep you entertained and it’s pretty much everything you’ve come to expect from Baz Luhrmann but as an adaptation of such a wonderful book, it’s a miserable failure. There was nothing stopping Luhrmann from making an original film set in the 20s with an anachronistic soundtrack. Hell, he could have made it a spiritual sequel to Moulin Rouge and everyone probably would have been perfectly happy with it. Instead it feels like he wanted to make a film set in the 20s but didn’t want to go to the work of developing a story for it so he took The Great Gatsby and filmed the visually stunning party scenes he’d been dreaming of. Then he realised that shit, he’d probably better try and actually adapt the actual story too and he did so, paying lip service to it and stripping away anything that made said story special in the first place.

As far as I can tell none of the various attempts at adapting the book into a film have been particularly successful with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald themselves famously walking out of the 1926 effort. Maybe a good adaptation will come some day. Maybe not. It eluded us this time, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning —
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Two pints out of five. Laterz.

It's The Great Gatsby, Old Sport!



TelePub: Zombieland Pilot by Jamie

The popularity of the Undead gained new unlife in 2004 with the double header of the ‘Dawn of the Dead’ remake and ‘Shaun of the Dead’. Yes, zombies as we know them had been shambling around since 1968 with the original ‘Night of the Living Dead’ and ‘28 Days Later’ had started the trend somewhat in 2002 but they weren’t even really zombies in that film so I’m not counting it. No, it was 2004 where zombies went viral and the world hasn’t really been the same since.

In 2009, already five years into this zombie resurrection, a little comedy film came out called ‘Zombieland’. Sure, it was no Shaun of the Dead but I for one enjoyed it and it had one of the best surprise cameos in all of film history.

It was a film that originally began life as a script for a pilot for a TV show about survivors of a Zombie Apocalypse seeking shelter in their devastated world. Well, it seems as though those small screen dreams are finally coming true as Amazon ordered a pilot, no doubt wanting to get into the scripted original content business like Netflix, and it’s now available to watch online completely free of charge. See, here’s the link for UK people who can watch it on Lovefilm even if you’re not subscribed to their service.

Of course, the question is, even if it is free your time is not. Should you spend that precious half hour watching a televisual internet adaptation of a movie that came out three years ago with a completely different cast playing characters from said movie. Well…

“It’s the tiniest bit funny.” This is a line spoken by Wichita (Maiara Walsh replacing Emma Stone) and I was tempted to use it to describe the show but honestly, that’s being a little bit too hard on it. I will say that the opening scene is one of the most god-awful attempts at comedy I have ever seen in my life. It involves two employees at an unspecified job discussing the bad morning one of them has had whilst the Zombie Apocalypse occurs through a window behind them. It’s awful and laced with profanity which, hey I’m all for, but you can tell when layering something with fucks is forced in an attempt to illicit humour and it just falls flat. It’s truly fucking abysmal.

Still things do pick up after this very, very lacklustre opening scene when we’re “reunited” with the characters from the first film. There the aforementioned Wichita, Little Rock (Izabela Vodovic replacing Abigail Breslin), Columbus (Tyler Ross replacing Jesse Eisenberg) and Tallahassee (Kirk Ward replacing Woody Harrelson). Kirk Ward probably comes off best here. Sure, he’s no Woody and no one ever will be, but Tallahassee is a fun character and though I disagree a little with the direction here, seeming to bring him to almost Homer Simpson levels of stupidity, I think that he’s probably be the easiest character to step into the shoes off and Ward is certainly likeable enough in the role. Perhaps the biggest loser in this is Tyler Ross who is doing something of a knock off of pre-‘Social Network’ Jesse Eisenberg which consequently makes him seem like a knock off of a knock off Michael Cera. It worked for Eisenberg because he’s at least good at that schtick. Tyler Ross, not so much.

Perhaps the biggest casualty of the shift to the small screen is the effects budget. In the opening sequence a plane crashes in the background and it looks like something someone might have made while pissing about with After Effects for the first time. And the zombies? Oooh, the zombies take a nasty leap down in quality from what we saw in the movie and from what we expect from television Zombies thanks to ‘The Walking Dead’. They just look like someone splashed a bit of fake blood on them and stuck a few plasticy scabs on. They are not good, is what I’m trying to say.

Still despite all there is bad to say about this, there could be something good in there. The humour in this pilot is certainly a little more slapstick than I remember the movie being but that’s not always bad. If it gets picked up, I’ll give the next episode a watch just to see since there’s also a chance that getting picked up could improve their budget a bit which would solve some criticisms. I will say that I’m annoyed that the show undoes the end of the film my having had Wichita and Columbus break up but I suppose you need some kind of conflict to keep the story going in a series and yeah, it makes sense. So this pilot, not so great but I can see the potential in it and would be willing to give it another chance if it made it to a full series. Two and a half out of five. Laterz.

Zombieland Cast




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