Wednesday, October 7, 2009
It's kind of unfair that every zom-com for the next 20 years will be compared to the genius of Shaun of the Dead, and Zombieland is no different. Like Shaun, it's a send up of conventional zombie horror flicks, but ALSO like Shaun (fortunately), it offers a lot more than just cheap laughs.
Whereas Shaun of the Dead offered a humorous glimpse of how normal folk would handle a zombie outbreak, Zombieland skips past that and asks "how would normal folk deal with the aftermath?" Where would you go? What would you do for fun now that nothing is off-limits? How would you deal with the day-to-day zombie threat? It's set at least a few months after the outbreak. Most of the United States is dead or a zombie. That leaves our 4 main characters traveling the road hoping to find whatever it is they are looking for. Our main hero, Columbus (playing the same character as he did in Adventureland) is trying to head home to hopefully find his parents alive. Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson, who steals the movie) is in search of some tasty food and enjoys killing zombies. Finally, two sisters, Wichita and Little Rock (Jules from Superbad and Abigail Breslin) are heading west to an old family vacation spot (a theme park).
Along the way, we get a look into what their lives were like before the plague. Some of it is humorous, some is heart wrenching, and some is just boring characterization. The important thing is that this doesn't really feel like a road trip movie because the plot is moving pretty quick. Like Wedding Crashers, our weird anti-social hero has created some Zombie Survival rules that usually accompany his voiceovers. Most people will get a kick out of the Double Tap rule, but my favorite is rule number one, simply titled Cardio. It's pretty simple: don't panic, because zombies are easy to outrun. Also hilarious is an expression I've never heard before for droppin' a deuce (taking the Browns to the Super Bowl). And finally, every review I saw mentioned an awesome cameo, but they all purposefully withheld the name to preserve the surprise. I must say that this person's cameo was most welcome and freakin funny as hell. I'm also shocked that it's been kept a secret so long.
Nonetheless, despite not being as good as Shaun of the Dead, absolutely everything works for this film. Music, plot, gore, humor, characters, it's all great. And here's a clue to the cameo: Their initials (you see them on the gate outside their house) are BM (I first thought Bette Midler and was way off). Go see this movie and thank me later.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Certain members of this site were excited almost beyond words when Alice in Chains started releasing tracks from their new album, Black Gives Way to Blue; so much so that they pre-ranked it ahead their AIC's fellow grunge survivors, P Jam. And we all know that I thought very highly of Backspacer, so there are definitely some big shoes to fill.
On my first run through the album, I was greeted with some awesome news: Alice in Chains still sounds like Alice in Chains. Yeah, Layne is dead and everyone's sad, but Jerry Cantrell has been mapping out these brooding harmonies for 2 decades. William Duvall ably hits the big notes like Layne, but unlike Layne, he doesnt plague us with stinky writing (see: Angry Chair). Instead, everyone lets Jerry run the show, musically and lyrically. Hearing all these slow, methodical, pounding riffs are a welcome visit from an old friend.
On my 10th run through the album, I was hit with a lousy realization: Alice in Chains sounds like Alice in Chains, only more stale. These new songs almost all sound the same, and sound like generic versions of all the great songs in the past. I'm still a huge fan of Your Decision and When the Sun Rose Again, a moderate fan of Check My Brain, A Looking in View, and the title track. For everything else, I'm kinda indifferent. They aren't bad, aren't good, and aren't memorable.
The final verdict is that I'm thrilled to see them writing new music, but I'm waiting to see what their sound will evolve to. It's like visiting an old friend from high school. You sit around telling old stories from the glory days, stories that are fun to revisit, but not nearly as fun as experiencing them. But you still don't know about what's gone on with your friend since then, and that's kinda important. Alice in Chains is now over the rehashing part. They've publicly grieved for their friend, Layne, but now it's time to move on.