Tag Archives: Ruben Fleischer

Zombieland: Double Tap (2019) Review

Time: 99 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Graphic violence, drug use, offensive language & sexual material
Cast:
Woody Harrelson as Tallahassee
Jesse Eisenberg as Columbus
Abigail Breslin as Little Rock
Emma Stone as Wichita
Rosario Dawson as Nevada
Zoey Deutch as Madison
Avan Jogia as Berkeley
Luke Wilson as Albuquerque
Thomas Middleditch as Flagstaff
Director: Ruben Fleischer

Zombie slayers Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) leave the confines of the White House to travel to Graceland in Memphis, Tenn. Along the way, they encounter other post-apocalyptic warriors and a group of survivors who find refuge in a commune. The scrappy fighters must now rely on their wits and weapons more than ever as they soon find themselves in a relentless battle against smarter, faster and seemingly indestructible zombies.

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Zombieland was such a surprise hit upon its release back in 2009, gaining quite the following. A follow up to the original Zombieland has been in development for some time, including a potential tv series, it just seemed like a sequel just wouldn’t happen. 10 years later however, the cast and crew finally return, including director Ruben Fleischer and the 4 main leads. The question was whether Double Tap could capture what the original was, given how long its been since the first movie. It’s more or less the same as the original, a fun zombie road trip comedy with a great cast that play off each other well.

Substance, Zombieland: Double Tap I guess is more of the same. The plot is really nothing special, Tallahassee, Columbus and Wichita just try to find Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), that’s pretty much the story of the movie. Then again what made the original movie work wasn’t the plot, it was the writing and how much fun it was. There’s certainly quite a lot of familiar aspects here, but they actually did a lot more than I thought they would in trying to keep things fresh. They do try to introduce some things, for example there are new zombie types instead of the regular zombies in the first movie. Double Tap is quite funny and entertaining across its hour and 40 minute runtime, all the things you love from the first movie are here. I guess there was one part of the movie where they tried to mislead the audience into thinking something happened, but the joke and twist was kind of obvious. Outside of that I don’t really have any major issues. Definitely stick around for the mid credits, it’s worth the wait for sure.

The main 4 leads return with Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin, and are as usual good and share great chemistry together. It can be very jarring watching them and realising that it’s been 10 years since the first movie in the plot, as it appears that really only Abigail Breslin has aged at all. Woody Harrelson shined in the first movie and he’s also hilarious in the sequel. The weakest of the 4 is definitely Breslin, not that she’s bad but she’s really not given much to do. Despite the plot surrounding the other 3 finding her, she really doesn’t appear a lot in the movie. The supporting cast are also good in their roles. Zoey Deutch from the trailers looked like she’d get annoying really quickly, but she was the standout of the newer cast, providing the first time I’ve seen a ditzy Valley Girl stereotype actually work in a movie. She was genuinely funny and stole all of her scenes. In fact the only annoying part about her was this forced ‘love trianglish’ subplot between her, Eisenberg and Stone which really was not wanted at all. Other supporting actors like Rosario Dawson and Luke Wilson also worked well.

Ruben Fleischer returns to direct and he does well at making the sequel feel bigger. It’s certainly retains the same style from the first movie. The action scenes are well filmed and they’re on a much larger scale. The violence and gore is quite satisfying, and the makeup and effects on the zombies are good, but that’s to be expected.

Although I still feel that it would’ve been much better if it was made 5 years ago (it certainly would’ve had more hype and impact), I still had quite a lot of fun with Zombieland: Double Tap, mostly for the same reasons that I liked the original so much. If you are a fan of the original Zombieland, I’d find it hard to see why you wouldn’t get any sort of enjoyment out of the sequel. If you aren’t such a fan on the other hand, you won’t like the sequel any more.

Zombieland (2009) Review

Time: 86 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence and offensive language.
Cast:
Woody Harrelson as Tallahassee
Jesse Eisenberg as Columbus
Emma Stone as Wichita
Abigail Breslin as Little Rock
Director: Ruben Fleischer

After a virus turns most people into zombies, the world’s surviving humans remain locked in an ongoing battle against the hungry undead. Four survivors — Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) and his cohorts Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) — abide by a list of survival rules and zombie-killing strategies as they make their way toward a rumored safe haven in Los Angeles.

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With Zombieland 2 coming later in 2019, I decided to re-watch the first movie. I watched Zombieland years ago and seeing it again more recently reminded me of how entertaining and well made it is for what it is. Director Ruben Fleischer and the cast all do a really good job at making Zombieland a really fun road trip zombie comedy.

Zombieland really is a straight up roadtrip comedy with zombies and for what it is, it’s really good. It gives you likable characters that you can follow and the plot is straightforward and simple enough. The plot is not particularly structured and is just the characters going from place to place and all of that works well. The movie doesn’t really take things too seriously, this is a comedy after all, and all the humour hits really hard. The movie is less than an hour and 30 minutes long and from start to finish its consistently entertaining.

The cast is mainly consisting of the main 4 leads, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin. Jesse Eisenberg is sort of the main character out of the 4, his character as you can expect is a nerdy and socially awkward, which is not usually one of the main characters that you’d expect leading a zombie movie, which makes it stand out more (especially as how he’s genuinally good at surviving with all his rules that he has in place and it actually works well). He does a lot of voiceovers and he does it in his typical Jesse Eisenberg fashion and it really worked. Woody Harrelson in this movie is… Woody Harrelson, and it really works. There’s a self awareness to his performance and character that I think makes his role here rank among some of his best. He’s really entertaining and hilarious, and he definitely steals the scene when he’s on screen. Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin play sisters who later come across Jesse and Woody and they are good as well. The 4 all share great chemistry together and are one among the main parts of why the movie works so well, given that we are with them for the whole movie. Zombieland also contains one of the best cameos in a movie. If you somehow don’t know about it yet, I won’t spoil it.

This still is by far director Ruben Fleischer’s best movie, with Zombieland you can tell that he really has a good understanding of comedy and the zombie genre. Like with Shaun of the Dead (another zombie comedy), despite it being a big budget zombie comedy, they don’t hold back on the gore, it’s as gory as most zombie movies. The effects 10 years later are still top notch and still look pretty good, which was probably achieved through a mix of digital and practical effects along with some makeup, the zombies look like zombies. All the zombie killing is made really fun to watch, there are some really gratifying zombie death scenes. You aren’t really scared throughout any of the movie, even during the zombie attack scenes (unless you aren’t used to seeing any zombie movies), it’s bloody and gory more than anything (not that this was a failure by Fleischer). Zombieland is also really stylised and Fleischer from all this is shown to be great at visual comedy, it’s all edited and put together really well.

Zombieland still today works as a really fun and entertaining zombie comedy and from start to finish. If you haven’t seen Zombieland you really should get around to it, especially before the next movie. I still feel like you might be able to enjoy the movie if you’re not a big zombie fan, it’s not particularly scary, you just have to be okay with seeing a lot of zombies and gore (since its not really scary and is really comedic throughout). I just hope that 10 years later after the first movie, Zombieland 2 can be at the same level as the original.

Venom (2018) Review

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock/Venom
Michelle Williams as Anne Weying
Riz Ahmed as Carlton Drake/Riot
Scott Haze as Roland Treece
Reid Scott as Dr. Dan Lewis
Jenny Slate as Dr. Dora Skirth
Director: Ruben Fleischer

Journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is trying to take down Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), the notorious and brilliant founder of the Life Foundation. While investigating one of Drake’s experiments, Eddie’s body merges with the alien Venom — leaving him with superhuman strength and power. Twisted, dark and fueled by rage, Venom tries to control the new and dangerous abilities that Eddie finds so intoxicating.

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Venom was on my most anticipated movies of 2018 list. A Venom movie has been in development ever since Spider-Man 3, and they eventually got it made by Zombieland and Gangster Squad director Ruben Fleischer. With the involvement of Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed, I was intrigued by a solo villain movie that’s more darker and different than most comic book movies nowadays. With that said, there were some reservations about it. This Venom movie doesn’t feature Spider-Man at all (something which is hard to picture considering Spider-Man is instrumental in his origin in the comics) and knowing how Sony botched some of their Spider-Man movies, you can see why people would be nervous about what they would do with this movie. Sony also are building their own Spider-Man cinematic universe (without Spider-Man) not connected to the MCU, and while that sounds interesting, it sounds rather peculiar and very familiar of Sony trying to build up the Sinister Six before they canned it. Nonetheless, I was sure that Venom would be a very entertaining movie, and I was actually somewhat right. Venom isn’t a very good movie, it’s very messy, the writing is flawed, it feels dated and all around there are a ton of problems. However, it is at the same time unbelievably entertaining, crazy and hilarious and I had such a fun time with it.

The first act of Venom is necessary but its quite slow, drawn out and is not very interesting. It doesn’t seem like it would be that much of a problem, but it is one of the worst parts of the movie because it’s not entertaining like the rest of the movie is. Not to mention despite how dull it feels, it feels really rushed and even the editing is really choppy, like they knew it was not as interesting or fun as the rest of the movie but wanted to keep the essentials of the scene so edited them down to the bare minimum. Venom picks up a little after a random 6 month time jump (which it really didn’t need) and especially once Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock comes in contact with Venom, just before (or at) the second act. Just so you know, it takes about an hour into the movie before we see Eddie Brock in full Venom beast mode. I think one of the biggest disappointments of Venom is the fact that the plot as whole is very generic and familiar. What’s in the trailers is pretty much what’s in the movie (in fact in typical Sony fashion they actually showed a little too much). Honestly I think plotwise there’s not really anything to spoil. With that said, what could actually be spoiled is some of the insane moments, particularly the things that Eddie does in the movie (I’ll get a little more into that aspect when I talk about Tom Hardy). The second act is really good and is full of insane Tom Hardy/Venom moments that are endlessly entertaining. One of the best (if not the best) part of Venom is the dynamic between Eddie and Venom, which is done almost perfectly. It’s hilarious and entertaining watching these two interact with each other and from what I can tell it is straight out of the comics. The third act however feels rather abrupt and loses a lot of the energy from the second act, it becomes a pretty standard comic book movie at this point. Also, throughout the whole movie its been building up this character of Riot and while at certain points he’s great, in the third act he doesn’t feel like that much of a threat in the end. Really, it’s the second act that works the best. Venom is an hour and 50 minutes long which is a little short, I kind of wished we got a longer movie (and by that I mean a longer second act with more of that kind of content). In terms of other problems in general, the dialogue can be weak, even terrible at times, and the film in terms of writing can feel very dated, in fact the writing on the whole wasn’t that good. It actually had 3 screenwriters who did the script, which probably explains one of the biggest problems of the movie: Venom wants to be so much, a buddy comedy between Eddie and Venom, a cheesy creature feature, a body horror movie, a really dark comic book movie and it all tries to do all of that and more at the same time and it doesn’t quite work. It tries to do multiple things at once (with only some of them succeeding) and it would’ve worked a lot better if it just settled on one type of movie. The movie actually worked fine enough without Spider-Man, when it comes to the long list of problems that Venom has, the lack of Spider-Man is pretty low down on it. Venom has two credits scenes, one setting up for a sequel, and the other is another Sony Spider-Man related movie. With the first of the two, I like the implications of it but some aspects of it came across as a little goofy and hard to take seriously. Both I think are worth staying around for.

Tom Hardy is one of the best actors working today, putting everything into every one of his performances, and his performance as Eddie Brock/Venom is no exception here. This is a less villainous take on Eddie Brock (let’s just say that Topher Grace’s Eddie Brock in Spider-Man 3 was much more villainous than Hardy’s version), this version of Brock is much more likable and while it is a departure from the comics, it does actually work well for this movie (especially when he’s contrasted against the Venom symbiote). There is no other way of putting it, Tom Hardy is the reason that this movie works. A lot of his performance is very comedic and most of the insane things that happen in this movie involves him, and Hardy absolutely commits to these scenes. For example, without revealing anything there’s a scene that takes place in a restaurant involving Tom Hardy and it’s probably one of the most hilarious scenes of 2018. Even for all the other good aspects that this movie has, this movie would not work without Hardy, he’s the glue that is holding everything in this movie together. He is great at the comedy but also sells the emotional moments that his character has, when he’s scared finding out that he’s having all these powers and finding himself doing weird things, it is really believable. He really does seem like someone who is forced to share a body and mind with another alien being. Earlier I mentioned about how the Eddie and Venom interactions are some of the best parts of the movie and Hardy really helped to sell that aspect (it helped that he actually voiced Venom as well). The rest of the cast are decent enough but don’t reach Hardy’s level (not necessarily their fault however). I think the problem is that there’s almost a disconnect between Hardy and the rest of the cast. Hardy seems to know that he’s in a cheesy and comedic comic book movie, whereas the rest of the cast play everything very seriously, and whenever Hardy isn’t on screen, things fall a little flat. Michelle Williams does play the ex girlfriend character to Hardy and while she does get some things to do than most characters that fit within this type, most of the time she isn’t really used to her fullest potential. Williams does elevate her performance slightly however. The chemistry between Hardy and Williams is a little hit or miss sometimes but it works okay enough. Riz Ahmed plays Carlton Drake, the villain of the movie and he is a little cartoonish, having these long speeches about humanity and how symbiotes combined with them are the higher life forms and other things like that. He isn’t a very memorable villain and is pretty generic but Ahmed does play up the silliness of the role well and ultimately still gives a pretty good performance.

Ruben Fleischer directed Venom and it is a bit over the place with some aspects being good, and some other aspects not being quite as good. The CGI on the whole is a mixed bag. The CGI on Venom actually looks pretty great and impressive. When it came to other parts though, especially in the climax, it could looked look a little cheap at times. Almost all of the action scenes are pretty good, especially when Venom is involved, they really made him such a hugely powerful figure. The last action scene however wasn’t that good, as it was a little hard to see what’s going on. As for whether Venom needed an R rating, it worked fine without it, they still do well enough with the PG-13 and push it as much as they can, managing to still have some dark and scary imagery at times and even featuring Venom eating people. However, an R probably would’ve allowed them more freedom with the things that they could show and would’ve made it a little more entertaining as well. I think there may have been some heavy edits and cuts to the movie, and you can feel it a little in the first act, for example there’s a scene between Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams and the sudden cuts and the lack of continuity is really obvious. Most of the time its fine but you can really notice it sometimes. I also have mixed feelings about the look of the overall movie. At times it can look great but at other times it can look really dated, like it should’ve come out in the early to mid 2000s.

Venom is an odd movie to say the least and one of the most unexpectedly entertaining movies in recent years. No it’s not really that good, it has a ton of problems, but it has a lot of entertaining aspects, the highlights being Tom Hardy’s performance and his dynamic with Venom. With the potential that a sequel would have, I really want to see the teased sequel. Hopefully this sequel will be R rated (which would probably be wise considering the implications of the credits scene), focuses up on what kind of movie it actually wants to be and is just overall much better than this first movie. Honestly, I can’t tell whether or not you’d like this movie, you will just have to take into account all of what I’ve said about this movie and decide for yourself if this is something that you feel like you would enjoy.