Zombieland: Double Tap

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 1/21/20;
Sony Pictures;
Comedy;
Box Office $73.09 million;
$30.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for bloody violence, language throughout, some drug and sexual content.
Stars Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Zoey Deutch, Avan Jogia, Rosario Dawson, Luke Wilson, Thomas Middleditch.

The original Zombieland in 2009 was such a delightful surprise that most fans considered a sequel to be an inevitability. Yet the years without one started to pile up, save for a pilot episode in 2013 of a TV adaptation for Amazon Prime Video that wasn’t picked up.

Ruben Fleischer, director of both the original film and this 10-years-later follow up, recalls in his commentary that plans for the sequel stalled because the creative team wasn’t satisfied with the script, so it was put on hold. Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick at least tried to resurrect the concept on Amazon, albeit with a new cast, before moving on to pen the “Deadpool” movies. Fleischer himself went on to direct Venom.

Eventually, though, they found a concept that works, and here we are with the hilarious Double Tap, dropping back in on the post-apocalypse to see how the core quartet of Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) have adjusted to a decade of life fighting zombies.

Pretty well, it turns out. They’ve taken up residence in the abandoned White House, while Columbus and Wichita have graduated to a full-fledged romantic relationship. That leaves the now grown-up Little Rock a bit restless to find a boyfriend of her own, so she hits the road with a pacifist musician named Berkeley (Avan Jogia), who promises to take her to a walled off commune where weapons are banned and the residents hide out from the zombie hordes by getting stoned in a village atop a skyrise.

So the rest of the group sets off to find her, joined by Madison (Zoey Deutch), a ditzy blonde they find living at the mall.

The zombies have also evolved into different sub-groups, some smarter than others, some harder to kill than others, which ups the danger factor of their road trip.

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The joy of the “Zombieland” movies is that they fully embrace the blood, gore and dystopian flavor of the genre, while at the same time spoofing the hell out of it. This time around, the movie even engages in a bit of self-parody, such as when Columbus and Tallahassee encounter another duo (Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch) whose personalities are eerily similar.

The casting of Middleditch as a doppelganger for Eisenberg is but one example of the film’s meta-humor, owing to Eisenberg’s performance as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, and Middleditch as the tech startup CEO on HBO’s “Silicon Valley.” The similarity in their characters is so pronounced that Fleischer even calls Eisenberg “Tom” at one point in his commentary. Oops.

There are quite a few running gags at play in Double Tap, from an expansion of the survival rules introduced in the first film, to the elaborate “Zombie Kill of the Week” cutaways, to the search for the ideal post-apocalyptic vehicle, to reflections of the past 10 years from the point of view of a society frozen in 2009. And the filmmakers have filled the screen with enough clever background details that it may take several viewings to fully appreciate.

At its core, though, as with the first film, Zombieland: Double Tap is anchored by the winning chemistry of its cast and the audience’s eagerness to spend more time with them.

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The Blu-ray is loaded with some great bonus materials, starting with the aforementioned director’s commentary, which offers some good behind-the-scenes information.

The making of the film is also the focus of five featurettes totaling nearly 35 minutes, covering the creation of the film’s memorable vehicles and sets, to the new cast members, and a look at making the fantastic mid-credits sequence that calls back to a memorable cameo from the first film.

Another two-minute video gives viewers a director’s-eye view of one of the film’s notable fight scenes.

Fans should be especially thrilled by the nearly 13 minutes of deleted scenes on the disc, which offer some great character moments that didn’t quite work for the film’s pacing but offer some interest tidbits on their own, particularly when it comes to the Columbus/Wichita relationship.

Rounding out the extras are an amusing five-minute blooper reel and a 30-second PSA using the film’s premise to encourage viewers to prepare their own emergency survival kits.

 

 

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