DVD, BLU-RAY (REVIEWED), 4K UHD, VOD | CERT: 15 | DIRECTOR: RUBEN FLEISCHER | SCREENPLAY: RHETT REESE, PAUL WERNICK, DAVE CALLAHAM | STARRING: JESSE EISENBERG, EMMA STONE, WOODY HARRELSON, ABIGAIL BRESLIN | RELEASE DATE: FEB 24TH
“You’ve got to remember guys: it’s zombie-comedy and there’s a lot of people expecting a lot from us”, Bill Murray sarcastically quips at the start of one of the many pieces of behind-the-scenes footage featured on the home-media release of Zombieland: Double Tap. His cavalier attitude unintentionally sums the film up by being relaxed, unpretentious, and utterly charming through a mixture of comedic timing and wit.
2009’s Zombieland was originally conceived of and written as a pilot for a TV-series. In a world where The Walking Dead was still just a comic book (one that briefly appears in Double Tap, in fact), the idea of zombies on television was still a hard-sell, so the project ended up getting re-tooled and turned into a movie.
The feature-debut of Ruben Fleischer, then best known for directing the least-popular Electric Six music video, Zombieland was a self-assured bit of action-comedy that landed at the perfect time: just as the boom in zombie-based entertainment was beginning to crescendo, but before the over-saturation of the market had set in. It was also a time when the four lead actors: Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, and Abigail Breslin held only two Oscar nominations between them – a number that has literally quadrupled since.
It’s largely assumed that the cast’s careers skyrocketing was the main reason that Zombieland 2 didn’t immediately roll cameras back in 2010, but there’s clearly a lot of goodwill between everyone involved and, thankfully, they found a gap where their schedules aligned, a decade later. Emma Stone has said that she’d like to make a new Zombieland movie once every ten years for the rest of time and we hope she sticks to her word because, if Zombieland was a cinematic TV-pilot, then Zombieland: Double Tap is very much a cinematic ‘Episode Two’ where you can see the writers and cast settle comfortably into a groove, now that they know exactly what they’re doing.
Double Tap wisely makes the decision to focus less on horror and more on humour. While it may not be quite as fresh as the first film, it’s funnier and the action set-pieces are not only more frequent, but every bit as much of a joy to behold as they were back in 2009.
The film never feels tired due to its constant barrage of new concepts, ideas and characters – the latter allowing for the very welcome addition of Rosario Dawson, Thomas Middleditch, Luke Wilson, and Zoey Deutch, all turning in fantastic comedic performances as, admittedly, somewhat cartoonish one-note characters, but characters that never stick around long enough for that to be a problem.
As well as the aforementioned outtakes-reel, the film’s release is presented with a selection of alternate and extended scenes, a number of featurettes and a director’s commentary track, but this one is worth buying for the film alone. Zombieland: Double Tap is a worthy sequel that constitutes everything you could realistically hope for from a big-budget, mainstream zombie comedy.