Is This Double Tap Lethal To The Series, Or An Evolution In Sequels?

Zombieland: Double Tap Poster

 

Ten years ago, a cult phenomenon was born that beat out the wave of zombie films/shows that currently walk amongst us.  It was a fun comedy that was aggressive, bold, and downright different which made it a legend in the film world.  So ten years later… it seems like the perfect time for a sequel in Hollywood’s eyes.  Thus, yours truly reviews the rules, stocks up on plenty of ammunition, and is ready to take another tap at the zombie world as he reviews:

 

Movie: Zombieland: Double Tap

 

Director:

Ruben Fleischer

Writers:

Dave Callaham (screenplay), Rhett Reese (screenplay)

Stars:

Woody HarrelsonJesse EisenbergEmma Stone

 

 

LIKES:

  • The Plot’s Pace
  • The Comedy
  • The Action Scenes, when actually happening
  • The References
  • The Mid Credit Scene
  • Woody Harrelson

DISLIKES:

  • The Plot is weaker
  • The Overkill of Carnage
  • The Under Utilization Of Most New Actors
  • The Blonde Ditzy side gets old
  • The New Location is a let down
  • More Action Was Needed For Me
  • The End Credit Scene

 

SUMMARY:

Much like the first film, Zombie Land is not afraid to dive in and establish all the new rules and get right into the continuation of the “noble” journey. Once it gets started, the pace does not let up as the movie dives into a rapid tale of once again migrating from area to area in search of new wonders and new creatures.  As simple as it sounds, the movie does accomplish the goal of making you laugh, recruiting some new jokes into a natural flow that works so well to entertain with the aggressive insults, the slapstick antics, and ridiculous idiocy this series capitalizes on!  The comedy is certainly new, with super creative, over the top antics that only push the envelope to extreme even further, but never quite lifting the finger on the pulse of ZombieLand comedy.    It’s ridiculousness that fans love sticks around in every aspect including the action scenes which hold all the charm that zombie slaying games have made famous.  It’s vicious, it’s fun, and more importantly still brings out the stupid humor in the form of klutzy coordination, all while increasing the excitement.  In addition, the references are always fun to dive into, as the history of movies, music, and cultural trends are poked fun at while being utilized as survival tools/classifications.  Younger audience members may not quite get them all, but seasoned viewers will enjoy the iconic recreations and integrations to add to the comedy. Much of this is accomplished by the writing, but the writing gets brought to life by the actors and while most of the cast comes back in super form… it’s Harrelson who wins the award for me.  His ire from Haymitch, the sarcasm of the teacher from Seventeen, and the gun slinging of the western desperado drive the movie and had me laughing the most while still enjoying the character, something the others did not quite accomplish.  Finally, to answer the questions, yes there is a mid and end credits scene and truth be told the mid credits scene may have been the best part of the movie.  I won’t spoil anything, but definitely stick around to have what many dreamed of become a reality and totally worth sticking around to enjoy, or at least find on YouTube later.

 

Despite all the familiarity and additions though, Zombieland did fail on some levels for this reviewer.  First, I found the plot weaker. Although very similar to the first one, the quest they set out for, to which the trailers made famous, was rather lame and short sighted.  An almost watered-down copy of the original, and while it meets the rules of the universe it set up, it also was not the fresh revisit I had hoped.  In addition, the carnage overkill was a little much for me, primarily in watching constant puking and pointless overshooting that only goes so far for me before it gets old.  And speaking of overkill, the dumb blonde moments of Madison (Zoey Deutch) were a little too much for me as her air headedness was unrelenting.  At first cute, and actually quite well timed, Madison’s character was a nice mix to the usual impassive tone of the other crew, but about halfway through the movie, that fun started going too stupid for me and only kept getting worse.  You may notice a number of characters that are being introduced to help out with introducing new blood, and in a new way it does, but for me many of the characters were not that exciting, unique, or even utilized the way the trailers suggested.  As such, can’t say I was impressed for the new twist they tried to introduced and the rather sloppy execution outside of a few good laughs.  Like last time there is a new destination set to offer salvation, but unlike the amusement park this place is a little… boring.  Design wise and plot device wise it works with the jokes and bizarre sense of humor, but it’s simplicity and magnitude are far less than the first installments dive into zombie madness.  At least we get a semi-decent action scene and a new award to go with it, but I’d hoped for a little more excitement like the first one’s climax.  This brings me to the action, or the fact that there was more needed in order to help out with giving a little more excitement to the film.  Zombieland 2 really focused on the ridiculousness and the comedy than the guts to glory action and for a junkie like me… it would have been nice to see the full package.  This is especially true in again the end, which although unique and fun, just did not have the climax I was looking for.  In addition, the end credit scene was also a big letdown, more like an outtake of the mid-credit scene than anything worthwhile and thus not worth sticking around.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Zombieland 2 is a decent sequel that offers the same laughs and dose of comedy extremes that the fanbase seems to love.  It has enough nod to the old to make fans smile, but also added enough new to help actually make a second tap worth the effort, primarily in the writing, references, and Woody Harrelson taking charge once more.  Yet, as many sequels show, the film’s evolution brought more superficial thrills to the gene pool than actual plot, resulting in a rather shallow pool to kill in.  Over usage of gimmicks and personality flaws, while underutilizing new characters, locations, and even the action to a degree made me a little sad at the lack of inspiration.  Still it’s got the fun medium and special effects to warrant a trip to the theater, especially in a group like the sports teams did the other night at my theater.  Factoring in everything my scores are:

 

Action/Comedy/Horror:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

Super Cast Brings Justice To This Franchise:

Justice League

 

What!?  Another super hero movie back in the theaters when we just had Thor?  Competition in the industries leads to many hasty decisions and this one was all about competing with Disney to bring in revenue and stop the juggernaut from ruling the theaters.  DC’s answer to the Marvel success, whipping out Justice League to smash the box office in what is hope to be a redeeming film.  Will this culmination bring us the film we’ve been dreaming of from the DC universe, or will it be another pale attempt to copy Marvel!  Robbie K back to bring you yet another review on the silver screen saga.  Let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

 

Casting:  A movie relies heavily on a cast, especially finding those worthy of holding the mantle of our iconic heroes.  Justice League’s director gets an A+ from me for the cavalcade of talent crammed into the new super team.  While Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill are still not the best fillers for their roles compared to others, they did well in their involvement in the film to warrant applause.  Gal Gadot reprises her role fantastically, bringing everything we loved in her stand-alone film and delivering it in spades to this installment in looks, demeanor, and kick butt fighting.  However the highlights are Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, and Ezra Miller.  Fisher has the chip on his shoulder, passively destructive role down pat, showing the struggles of new power.  Momoa has that brashness/arrogance of a rogue who feels he is above the rules, who soon begins to understand the limits of the lone wolf.  However, Miller was spot on for the role of The Flash, capturing all the charisma, comedy, and nerdism I’ve enjoyed with the modern telling of the fast hero.  The cast works so well together, bringing the roles to life in a very entertaining manner that feels like the League of the past on Cartoon Network.

 

The Comedy:  The hero movies are starting to shift from adventure to comedy genre for me, and Justice League took a major turn down this avenue.  Much of the writing is well-timed, comedic goal, utilizing well-timed cursing, witty sarcasm, and a sharp edge banter that many love, especially when the characters fence with their insults. Of course, the Flash, has a major hand in the laughs, his geeky, naïve admiration of the heroes laying the groundwork for other comedic devices that involve both physical and mental qualities, seriously his face is hilarious.  With this comedy laid out throughout the movie, one will find it hard not to chuckle quite a few times in the movie.

 

The Action:  If you’ve read my reviews on previous DC movies, you know that the action is often weak for me when comparing to Marvel’s masterpieces.  Happily, the comic book battles that hooked us from the comics have finally started arriving.  Justice League, much like Thor, have a number of exciting moments that act as stepping stones to the excitement at hand.  Much of these brief stints are more entertaining than some of Marvel’s skirmishes, able to grab the serious tone of DC and deliver a darker fight to ensnare us.  The semi-diverse fights bring out the technology bangs, and really deliver an action-packed punch that much of this universe has lacked. Finally, this studio is getting things right.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Shallow Story/Characters:  There is a reason Marvel divided their universe into multiple, single character focused stories, in that it builds up the characters for one to latch onto.  With their failing enterprise, DC skipped a lot of steps to go directly to the group movie and as a result the character development is lacking.  Enough ground work has been laid to get the gist, but Justice League has too many story elements in it to give that satisfying feeling of accomplished storytelling.  With little mystery, buildup, and sometimes even challenge, this film’s adventure is a little rushed for this reviewer, culminating into a rather bleak, predictable mess.

 

Snyder-Vision:  The slow moving special effects were great so long ago, and still have an emotional bite to them that really maximizes the kill.  Yet Snyder can’t seem to listen to the audience members/critics, or is rebelling because he won’t stop overusing it.  Justice League continues the trend of utilizing the tactic for nearly every exciting scene, sometimes in good taste, and often in more egotistical, eye-rolling displays of drawn out cinema.  Hope you like seeing every detail at half speed, because you are going to have your fill.

 

The final battle:  After all the preparation, all the little battles to tease you, one hopes for that defining climax that really puts the battle over the top.  Justice League dropped the ball on this for me, not in terms of being lame (like Suicide Squad), but instead not being much different from the trailers.  This final battle has had much spoiled in the advertising, and rather than building upon it, like the Avengers, the movie held little flare outside of the battle with the Steppenwolf. That gigantic army you saw in the trailers… doesn’t really do much, which was so disappointing with all the hype they placed.  It was a good start DC, now finish with that bang we all want to see.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

If you read other reviews, you’ll see this movie was panned, but this critic found much to enjoy in this movie.  It’s fun, funny, and a rather good introduction to future team movies with an incredible cast to boot.  Sure, it still has some rough story patches, and they haven’t quite understood the execution of a good finale (or the balanced use of slow-motion).  Still, it’s the best movie of the DC universe for me overall, and a good comic book movie to boot.  Naturally, I’ll recommend this for the theater, and implore you to enjoy the comedic ride and chaotic action at hand in what will hope be a starting point to the next wave of DC movies. 

 

My Scores:

 

Action/Adventure/Fantasy:  8.0-8.5

Movie Overall: 6.5-7.0

The Stunts Draw the Eye, but The story Asks Why

now you see 2

Robbie K back again, and this time with the third review of the week. This installment focuses on yet another sequel to grace the silver screen and one I never expected, or wanted, to come. My review is on Now You See Me 2, as you can guess from my posting, an attempt to follow up on the successful thriller from 2013. But can this film follow a truly great act? Or is this merely another money making scheme whose name overshadows the quality. Let’s get to the review to find out.

If you remember the first movie, it was a crime/thriller with an underlying mystery that came to a well-concluded end. How do you top that?  Naturally, come up with an even more intriguing mystery and throw in a little vengeance on top of that. Now You See Me 2 takes place merely a year after the last installment and focuses on uncovering the mystery of the Eye, the organization that recruited our “heroes” in the first installment, who may have set them up for failure. The plot is certainly intriguing, and the team manages to throw those famous curve balls we saw in the first film. While the mystery isn’t quite as good as the first one, and the thrills are a bit stale, it makes for an intriguing story nonetheless. My mind was constantly trying to decipher how deep the rabbit hole went and just who was in cahoots when it came to dismantling the team. In addition, they added some of the character development that the last installment lacked, some of which was good and some of which was cornier than a corn maze at a harvest festival.

Outside of the mystery, the vengeance part is so-so in terms of quality. Multiple people have a vendetta against our crew and they go through extraordinary lengths to get it done. However, one of the new characters Walter (Daniel Radcliffe) was not the villain to do so and was more annoying than menacing. Regardless the plot against them wasn’t as suspenseful and a mediocre attempt to try and keep you on your seats as if there were harm to your characters. I applaud them at the good attempt, and appreciate the somewhat emotional twist at the end (which made some of the events in the first movie irrelevant), the vengeance plot was merely a scaffolding for impressive stunts.

But it’s the stunts and magic that really draw the eye in this film. Like the last installment, number 2 has plenty of convoluted plans that show some serious imagination and cleverness. Fans will be pulled into the confusion of how the gang ended up where they were, only to be wowed by the thorough explanation of how the trick was pulled off. When you pull in the fantastic use of CGI, the stunts only get more impressive as our magicians disappear in ways you only dream about. But again the realistic factor sometimes gets drowned out when a convenient opening appears for our group to take (e.g. a box magically collapsing, a trap door in the middle of a crowded street, or a mirror suddenly appearing). These moments are again cool, but a bit eye rolling when they wrap it up with one sentence, which boils down to “we wanted something cool, but we could only do it sloppily.” Overall though, these stunts prove imagination is not dead, and that originality can come in the simplest forms.

In terms of the casting, this is another major strength of the movie. Eisenberg reprises his role as Atlas who still has the chip on his shoulder and ego issues. The snarky comments are fun and funny, but for once I felt it was a bit diluted compared to some of his other roles. Woody Harrelson as the hypnotist was a grand addition and provided some of the funniest moments on the screen with his banter and dialogue. The jokes get a bit tired, but all in all his role in this film has greatly improved. Dave Franco took a bigger role in this one, bringing humor, looks, and a charming story that I really enjoyed. And Mark Ruffalo, well a little sappier and less humor, but it works on a different level than his original character. As for newcomer Lula (Lizzy Caplan), at first she was annoying and too over acted (an attempt at using the shallow comedy for laughs), but then she grew on me and started becoming a much more integral cog into the mix. As for Radcliffe, the actor is still solid in his abilities, but the direction of his character was more whiny brat than anything else and somewhat of a waste of his talents (think Deathly Hallows Part 1 and 2 movie). Despite the flaws though, the cast really supports one another and makes for an entertaining team.

Overall Now You See Me 2 is a fun, entertaining sequel that I enjoyed. The stunts are exciting, the plans convoluted, and the acting is top notch on most grounds. While the story isn’t quite as thrilling, and there are components that didn’t work for me, it still outshines most of the stuff that hits the theaters these days. I recommend a theater visit for this one as well, but you’ll probably get the most out of your money if you rent in about three months. Regardless, enjoy the show and may it be as entertaining to you as it was for me.

 

My scores:

Action/Comedy/Thriller: 8

Movie Overall: 7