Reviews: 2012 and Zombieland

It’s Monday already and I’m back. I hope you all enjoyed your weekend. The past two nights I saw two end of the world type movies. While both deal with the end of mankind, they have to do with two different scenarios and have two vastly different results in quality. Here’s my quick review of both.

2012 (2009)

Starring: John Cusack, Amanda Peet, and Chiwetel Ejiofor

Directed By: Roland Emmerich

Going into any Emmerich movie, you have to know there’s a good chance that it’s going to be pretty bad. It’s just a matter of how many leaps of faith and logic gaps you are willing to take. Sometimes you can just turn your brain off and enjoy the ride (as with Independence Day or Stargate) or there will be something in there that you just can’t take (the giant wolves in The Day After Tomorrow). Sometimes the movie is just downright bad across the board (1998’s Godzilla).

2012 is Emmerich’s latest in his end of the world series. It follows various characters through-out 2009-2012 during the end of days, as supposedly predicted by the Mayan civilization nearly one thousand years ago. As with all of his movies, it is visually stunning. All of the destruction scenes (and there are many) are awesome, complete with minor details of everything going on. Though nothing terribly graphic happens, we see untold thousands of people die during the course of the movie.

That’s about all there is good to talk about, unfortunately. The all-star cast all do a good job (most notably Cusack and Ejiofor), but the movie is just a series of circumstances, unlikely events, “oh, of course THAT would happen” type scenes. We meet people only to watch them die, like cannon fodder. Yet completely ordinary people somehow survive Armageddon style situations over and over again. And I have no idea what Emmerich’s fetish is with dogs and how they must survive. Whenever one is introduced in one of his movies, I just roll my eyes at this point.

Bottom Line: This movie is exactly what you should expect it to be. It hurts the brain in how dumb it is. With a run time of two hours and 38 minutes, that’s a lot of nonsense to sit through. Great effects and solid performances just can’t save it.

4.5/10 (Avoid) (Unless a fan of Emmerich’s other movies).

Zombieland (2009)

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, and Emma Stone

Directed By: Ruben Fleischer

For starters, I will not get into the discussion whether the creatures in this movie are actually zombies or not. The zombie vs infected argument is extremely lame to me. Do you really have nothing better to do than to argue the the beings in 28 Days Later aren’t zombies and are offended when they’re called such (says the guy writing a blog on movies)?

Now that that’s off my chest, this movie is amazing. There’s just no other way to put it. This is the most fun I’ve had watching a movie in a long time. It never takes itself too seriously (I loved the constant Rules to Surviving Zombieland reminders). This is America’s answer to Shaun of the Dead (another great zombie comedy). The humor is a bit different, and it’s certainly more bloody and violent (America, baby!), but it’s right up there with the Simon Pegg classic.

Zombieland follows Columbus (Eisenberg), named such as the character is on his way to Colbumbus, Ohio to get back to his family after the outbreak starts. Along the way he meets up with the zombie killing machine Tallahassee (Harrelson) and two con artist sisters Wichita (Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin). Tallahassee is out for one thing (a twinkie) while the sisters are off to Pacific Playland (the only hope Wichita can give to Little Rock is that Pacific Playland is zombie free).

The cast all have great chemistry together. I first saw Eisenberg in the criminally under-seen Adventureland (the land theme is purely coincidental) and he’s just as good here as he was in that. Stone and Breslin are both very good here, as well. However, this is clearly Harrelson’s movie. His Tallahassee is one of the coolest movies characters in a while. He’s an one man wrecking crew and is so outstandingly creative in his zombie killing (“Zombie kill of the week?”), you’ll have a smile on your face watching the man work.

Bottom Line: Ruben Fleischer, in what is essentially his debut, has a directed a fun rollercoaster ride of a movie. It has introduced four enjoyable characters that I hope we get to see in a sequel sometime soon. Plus there is what might be the greatest cameo ever made in this movie. You have to watch it for that alone.

8/10 ( Recommended).

That’s what I watched this weekend. What did you all see? Have any opinions on these two?

I’ll be back on Wednesday with something else.

Until then…

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