The first Zombieland from 2009 was a surprise hit that has gained somewhat of a cult following. Despite the long wait, the sequel, Zombieland: Double Tap, is an enjoyable, welcome return to the world and its characters, even if it feels more disposable this time around.
From the very beginning, it is abundantly clear that the meta, self-referential humour is back in all its glory. The apocalyptic antics of Tallahasse, Columbus, Wichita and Little Rock a full decade later feel like a natural progression of the lead characters and the world they inhabit. Columbus and Wichita have relationship issues, Little Rock isn’t so little anymore and Tallahassee is… Tallahassee (in all the best ways). The performances are good all-round, (especially by Emma Stone and newcomers Zoey Deutch and Rosario Dawson), though slightly over acted at times. The organic and more nuanced performances and jokes of the first film have been replaced by more obvious set-ups and one-liners that feel more contrived, albeit funny. As a result, the subtlety of the previous installment has been lost, but that being said Double Tap still has several laugh-out-loud, memorable gags.
Director Ruben Fleischer further aids the film in being memorable by helming the action well, with two sequences being particularly worthy of note. One is a perfect visual representation of the group’s camaraderie and teamwork, after having shared a decade’s worth of honing their zombie-killing craft together. It feels almost inappropriate to use the phrase ‘visual storytelling’ to describe what is essentially a simple, zombie comedy B-movie with a larger budget, but yes – it’s great visual storytelling. The other striking sequence includes a surprisingly effective throwback to a scene from the original with a hilarious new twist and is purely fun to watch. Oh, and, stay for the credits (especially if you’re a fan of the first film).
The film’s greatest weakness (aside from slightly forced comedy) is the plot. While in some ways similar to the first film, the plot is much more predictable and generic, lacking the interesting former through line of the crew coming to trust each other and becoming a ‘family’. Double Tap’s plot is not nearly as engaging, nuanced or well-executed as the first, and it’s pretty easily deconstructed with minimal thought. Realistically though, who cares? For most viewers who’ll simply expect good laughs, characters and fun action, the subpar plot will likely be next to inconsequential. As for those looking for more substance in their entertainment, however, perhaps Double Tap is one to skip.
Ultimately, fans of the first Zombieland who’ve wanted a sequel for ten years should rejoice that a) they got one, and b) it’s as good as it is. Most will agree it’s inferior to the first installment, but that should in no way disparage Double Tap. Though not quite as well-written or well-executed, it has enough good laughs, exciting zombie action and character interactions to make it a worthy sequel.
Image: jdxyw via Flickr