ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP

The reason a lot of belated movie sequels fall flat on their face is because they usually lack that spirit and tone of the original film. It could be many reasons. Filmmaking sensibilities and technology has changed since then. Actors have aged and may have stopped really caring. Maybe the original filmmakers that brought that fresh idea to life in the first place don’t return, or have matured or regressed as filmmakers. Usually the perfect window for a sequel is 2-5 years, where it doesn’t feel too rushed, but also not too late for the audience to lose interest. It can be done, as films like Mad Max: Fury Road showed us, but usually we end up with less that, and more Dumb and Dumber To

Ten years since the last film, Zombieland: Double Tap follows returning characters Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), as they try to live a normal life in Z-Land. Normal life can get pretty boring, though, and after Columbus proposes to her, Wichita and Little Rock leave him and Tallahassee behind. Then things get even more complicated when Little Rock abandons Wichita to go live with a bunch of hippies. So, Tallahassee, Columbus, and Wichita team up to get Little Rock back and kill loads of zombies along the way. 

With how huge the zombie craze was around 2009, the first Zombieland was a fresh and fun take on the genre, but it was very thin in the story and character department. That wasn’t a huge deal, though, as the cast was perfect and all had terrific chemistry. Every cast member effortlessly slips back into their roles here, and it helped that they were written exactly the same and not flanderized. Aside from a groanworthy scene at the end, there was a refreshing lack of fan service and just mostly played to the strengths of the original: the cast. Unfortunately, this takes the sequel story route of separating the character for the second act and introducing new characters for them to interact with. Some of the characters are a lot of fun, especially Albuquerque (Luke Wilson) and Flagstaff (Thomas Middleditch), who are basically mirrors of Tallahassee and Columbus, but they all just felt like vehicles for more action scenes. I really could have done without Madison (Zoey Deutch), though. She did a great job, but entire point of her character is being an annoying valley girl, which got old really quick. She was a nice counter to the tough women who are Wichita, Little Rock, and welcome addition Nevada (Rosario Dawson), but she was just too much. 

What somewhat assuaged my fears about Zombieland: Double Tap was that everyone was returning. Not just the cast, but also director Ruben Fleischer and writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese. Wernick and Reese found some big success with the Deadpool movies, but Fleischer has had a rocky career, although his last film Venom performed well, although it was mediocre. Still, the fact that everybody returned showed that they cared about making a solid sequel and it shows all the way through. Fleischer’s original style is still there, complete with the on-screen text effects that describe the many rules. Most of the CGI is unfortunately pretty poor, but it didn’t detract too much from the fun. The pacing does drag in the middle, but there’s still a decent energy, mostly because of the actor’s chemistry. The script is just as sharp and funny, too, with hilarious interactions between the many characters. It’s a decade later, but this feels like a sequel that could have been made two years after the original. It has that same wit and charm, as well as enough story and characterization to keep you invested. 

As far as belated sequels go, especially in the comedy and action world, Zombieland: Double Tap is certainly one of the better ones. It definitely helped that everybody seemed to genuinely want to be there and were having fun playing these characters again. Emma Stone commented that she would like to make one of these every ten years and I’m welcome to the idea. It may have been a decade later, but there’s nothing about it that really feels different, aside from the actors aging. If you enjoyed the first Zombieland, I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t enjoy a second bloody serving. 

6.5/10

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