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‘Zombieland: Double Tap’ delivers a tasty bite of the familiar

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The 2009’s “Zombieland” movie was a sleeper hit, amassing a cult following that has since gone mainstream. I shockingly didn’t check it out until the recent double feature. Now I see why it’s amassed such a ravenous horde of fans. It’s pretty awesome, with character-driven comedy bolstered by a mostly believable world and one of the more exhilarating finales in a zombie movie, even in the past decade.

Speaking of a decade, the 10 years since has brought us “Zombieland: Double Tap.”

“Double Tap” reunites the core four of Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin with director Reuben Fleischer and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Even composer David Sardy returns. And what a welcome return it is.

First, the cast is still at the top of their game. Eisenberg’s Columbus, while having more of a spine than last time, is still a scrawny stickler for his rules, Harrelson’s Tallahasse is still the pile of issues and machismo fans remember, while Stone’s Wichita is just as sardonic and the true adult in the group. Breslin’s Little Rock, while having less time to shine here, has shades of her previous curiosity whilst trying to strike out on her own as a young woman in a world where fleeing the nest is poorly advised.

The newcomers end up being welcome additions all around, with Zoey Deutch’s Madison delivering some of the most gut-busting moments as an out-of-place valley girl. While she had me on the fence, her consistently humorous dynamic with the core four, plus some hidden depths that were sufficiently hinted at, won me over.

Rosario Dawson’s Nevada, while sadly not having an especially large role, has good chemistry and a pretty badass presence to match even that Tallahassee. Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch (dude from “Silicon Valley” and those Verizon commercials) also make for a fun, if an unoriginal couple of scenes that quickly escalates into one of the best scenes in the film: a close-quarter action sequence delivered in one continuous fluid take that is bursting with nervous energy.

Speaking of which, the action is the clearest step up since the original. Fleischer is clearly more confident with staging his actors, with action scenes being staged in wider environments that have the actors confidently gunning down zombies with flare. The camera is mostly steady, the actors know what they’re doing, and even if the film fails to top the badassery of last time’s finale, it still clearly outdoes just about every battle and skirmish from the 2009 original.

So, “Double Tap” successfully recaptures the chemistry, wit and even ups the action ante from the original? So, in what areas does it fall flat?

Not much honestly. While the sequence with Wilson and Middleditch is cribbed from “Shaun of the Dead,” it ends up being more developed than that film’s spin on the gag of “main group meets a group of doppelgangers,” aside from a cringe-worthy joke about how “outdated” Tallahassee’s “nut up or shut up” phrase is.

If I had to be more critical, another shot that can be taken at the writing is that while it is in keeping with the original, it somewhat relies a bit heavily on callbacks that aren’t off-putting but aren’t worthy of that much of a chuckle either. More pop-cultural  allusions seem to also substitute for jokes to mixed results.

Another odd thing is when Columbus is listing new types of zombies that have sprung out in the decade since. It’s a cool setup, though I didn’t recognize that these shopped up until I mentally replayed some moments and went, “Oh yeah, that’s right!”  Still, they’re welcome if underused.

The final criticism would be that the finale tries to do its own thing; they knew they couldn’t top the original’s, so they went in a different direction. It’s not bad, still using that literal theme park energy from the original to deliver something that’s just distinct enough, but still “Zombieland.” It mostly works, but again, it’s one area they couldn’t top and fans might be disappointed. Still, not a bad try.

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“Zombieland: Double Tap” is a sequel that didn’t need to be made, but its existence isn’t irritating either. It’s a serviceable follow-up that, while not quite as much of a fun time as the original, is still worth sinking your teeth into.

My rating: 3.25/5

Featured Image: Courtesy Zombieland: Double Tap IMDb

Article Originally Published by on North Texas Daily

Source: North Texas Daily

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