Saturday, October 24, 2009

24th Oct 09 - Zombieland

Zombies are probably the second most popular dead things right now (second to vampires, overly exposed by Twi-shite, which I only hate because I’ve realised I’m now too old to understand the hype, and it’s an emo’s version of the superior Buffy).

After Shaun brought the hee hee to Zombhee, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood decided to step up to the play. And so we have Zombieland, a Zom-com set in a post-apocalypse world, where the zombies are fast and the survivors are few. Our narrator is Jesse Eisenberg, a white-fro nerd whose survival depends on cowardly but smart rules. He teams up with Woody Harrelson, a gun-toting lunatic with a knack for killing zombies. Life gets even more interesting when they stumble upon sisters Emma Stone (sultry, super and one to keep an eye on) and Abigail Breslin (the little one from Little Miss Sunshine).

The opening credits help to set the tone, with slow-mo gore spewed into camera lens set to heavy metal. Awesome stuff. The rest of the film doesn’t disappoint, with a heady mix of zombie chaos (what would happen if you fought zombies with fairground rides?) and American nerd jokes. Granted it lacks the more subtle, shall we say “British” humour of Shaun – this is certainly more wham-bam, in your face silliness. But being less than 90 minutes long means this is a flash of entertainment, fast-paced, thrilling and with the best use of a cameo for years (I won’t spoil it).

The cast are strong, Harrelson having a whale of a time as a redneck hero, while “the kids” hold their own, Eisenberg impossible not to compare to Michael Cera (even though I know he hates it) and the girls not just the token totty, although despite all the end of the world stuff they do manage to apply the makeup and keep the hair smoking hot.

With the strong duo of Z-Land and Shaun, there’s little scope for any more Zom-coms that could be successful, or more accurately, original (for we all know that the unoriginal shit-pile can still become successful due to the inherent stupidity of the majority of the human race). Zombieland proves there was still life in the undead and injects fresh life and fun into the genre, and for that it lopes in with a CF2. Dead funny. Ho ho.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

10th Oct 09 - District 9

As Sting once wisely said: I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien. I’m an Englishman in New York.

What he could have said was: I’m an alien. I’m an illegal alien. I’m an insect-like thing in a shanty town in South Africa. Granted it’s not as catchy, but it does sum up District 9 quite nicely.

Sneaking up on the box office like a little sneaky alien, District 9 somehow blasted its way to the top of the charts, despite coming from a first-time director and featuring an unknown cast. Of course the fact that it’s good should mean it nabs a high place on the box office, but Joe Public aren’t always smart enough to flock to the best film, instead getting confused by bright piles of poo with a picture of the Wayan brothers pinned to it.

Newcomer Neill Blomkamp was down to direct the Halo adaptation, but after it was canned, producer Peter Jackson gave him a wad of money to make something else instead. Blomkamp drew on his childhood in South Africa to cleverly meld the real into the alien, having the outerspace visitors –“Prawns” – treated as lower class folk and relegated to live in shanty towns. By drawing on documentary and CCTV style footage, Blomkamp adds an extra dimension of realism to the familiar alien format. CGI aliens meld perfectly with the real world, with two singled out as our “hero” prawns who team up with a hapless government dude due to circumstances I won’t go into to avoid spoiling the gruesome surprises.

What you get is a sort of buddy-movie, mixed with Tsotsi, the alien-in-bar scenes from Star Wars, some first person shoot-em-up games and transformers. All sort of familiar, but done in such a neat way it’s simply marvellous. With no big-name stars it’s difficult to tell where the story will lead you, and there is a gritty and explosive streak of violence that will have you “ewwing” and “wooing” in equal measures. There’s also a lot of use of the excellent swear word “fook”, which you’ll be saying for days after seeing this film.

Unfortunately the film falters towards the end when it attempts to big-up the action and brings in some unnecessary transformer-eqsue action, diluting the smaller, indie feel to the flick. But still, this is a smart take on the alien genre, the docu-style bringing an element of realism to pixels such that you’ll really care what happens to them. Worthy of its box-office success, District 9 plumps up the points and scores a CF2. Fooking hell.