Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Video review: "Zombieland"

There's always been a comedic element to zombie flicks, at least in their modern incarnation. George A. Romero had several moments of dark humor in 1968's seminal "Night of the Living Dead," and the laughs have shambled side-by-side with the flesh-eaters ever since.

If other movies have dipped a toe into humorous waters, then "Zombieland" dives head-first into comedy, with often uproarious results.

The set-up is similar to a hundred other films: The zombie apocalypse is upon us, and it's up to the few remaining humans to survive. Our foursome of heroes take the names of the cities they're from: Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), a video game dweeb; Wichita and Little Rock (Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin), a pair of butt-kicking sisters; and Tallahassee (a hilarious Woody Harrelson), a redneck who was born to eradicate the undead.

The filmmakers seem to know and love every convention of the zombie genre, tweaking them for comic effect while still delivering a satisfying helping of gleeful violence. At one point, Tallahassee takes out a grocery store full of walkers with a banjo.

Whether you're horror fan or just want a good laugh, "Zombieland" offers plenty of biting humor.
DVD extras cover a nice scope of material, though they're not as engrossing as you'd like.

Two making-of featurettes total about 30 minutes, but there's nothing really new other than the revelation the project was originally conceived as a television pilot. Seven deleted scenes are similarly underwhelming.

Better is the feature showing how the special effects were achieved, combining live action with layers of CGI.

I was glad to see a commentary track that actually has the participation of the stars: Harrelson and Eisenberg are joined by director Ruben Fleischer and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick.

The boys keep the banter flowing at a nice pace, although the constant complimenting each other gets to be a little much.

In addition to these, the Blu-ray version also comes with a "Beyond the Grave" picture-in-picture track with storyboards and animatics, plus a digital copy of the film.

Movie: 3 stars
Extras: 3 stars

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