Ten years ago, one of my all-time favourite horror comedies was released under the name of 'Zombieland'. While there are still moments in the film that manage to irk me a bit (seriously, Wichita, leave the theme park rides alone!), the entire underlying concept was just awesome. Funnily enough, however, I'm reviewing its sequel before saying anything about the original. So perhaps a quick recap?
'Zombieland' follows Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), an unexpected survivor in a world full of zombies. He lives with a list of rules, and they have helped him make it. His journey begins, heading to Columbus, Ohio, to find the rest of his family. He soon runs into an ass-kicking redneck type named Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), who provides most of the comedy. The two travel together for a while before running into sisters Wichita and Little Rock (Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin, respectively) who are doing whatever it takes to make it to a theme park called Pacific Playland in LA - apparently entirely zombie free.
Long story short, while the sisters con the two guys for a while in their mission, they also hesitantly form a bond that comes together in the end, and we would wait ten years for this sequel. Also, spoiler alert but completely necessary for this review, Wichita and Columbus get together in the end.
In the sequel, things open in the same bad ass, Metallica slow motion credit sequence as we see the four lead characters kicking some serious zombie ass on their way into the White House. Being secure, they end up making it their final destination. But when Columbus proposes to Wichita, it scares her off and she runs away with Little Rock, continuing their trend from the previous film.
About a month passes, and Columbus, pining over Wichita runs into Madison (Zoey Deutch), and the two hit it off immediately. However, Wichita comes back reporting that Little Rock has run off with a guy named Berkeley (Avan Jogia), and the trio, along with the newcomer set out to find her and bring her back home.
Plot-wise, it kinda changes gears here to provide us with a jealousy love triangle between Columbus, Wichita and Madison for a good chunk of the film. The rest of it is Little Rock turning into a rebellious teenager, and Tallahassee being an overbearing father figure. So we get a lot more into the characters personalities here. I'm not entirely sure how much older everyone is supposed to be here, but in real time, Little Rock would be 22, and I don't think that's accurate.
It also introduces a few new things, including characters to play off of. The most noteworthy new characters being Madison, and an innkeeper named Nevada (Rosario Dawson) who becomes a love interest for Tallahassee. However, it also brings in new zombie concepts, and admittedly, some of it is brushed over.
That said, we can narrow it down to a nitpick. Much like the first 'Zombieland', a few things don't make much sense here, we're mostly here for a fun roller coaster ride. Hell, the first one even starts out with "fasten your seat belts, it's gonna be a bumpy ride!" as one of its opening lines. These movies understand that they're mostly silly, and yet manage to throw just the right amount of completely unexpected drama in there. The first involves a scene with Tallahassee that still kinda gets me to this day.
As far as overall quality goes, like with many sequels, I think I can safely say that the first 'Zombieland' is better in several ways. But as far as ten-year-old sequels go, this was still a lot of fun, and almost but not quite on par with its predecessor. The main reason is just that we've waited so damn long. The most recent Marvel movie at the time of 'Zombieland's release was 'The Incredible Hulk', but unlike the MCU, there was nothing building the world along the way. So for some, I could understand this being too little too late.
However, if you can just see this for what it is, there's no reason you can't still have a great time with it. It would be important to keep in mind that you're there to have fun, and not to take much seriously - especially after you see the "Zombie Kills of the Year".