Four Movie Reviews from after the Zombie Apocalypse
by Michael Haynes
Star Wars XIII: Jar Jar's Redemption
The latest entry in this shambling hulk of a franchise has the stench of decay around it. (Too soon?)
Contrary to popular belief, the zombies which have appeared in our population in the past year do not have reduced intelligence. Whether the producers of this film are aware of that fact or not, they don't show it in their approach to SW13. The characters, led by Major-General Binks, engage in one failed plan after another in their attempts to round up the last remnants of the old Empire. Perhaps this concept could work as a so-bad-it's-funny comedy except in this case it's just bad.
As a sop to the zombie audience a scene was added with Christopher Lee--who has now appeared onscreen both as a living actor portraying undead characters and as an undead actor playing a living character--in the role of a distant relative of Count Dooku bent on avenging his death through the deaths of the grandchildren of Anakin Skywalker. This is the only significant reference to the Skywalker clan in the film and the scene, while gripping, feels unnecessarily grafted on.
George Lucas surely would be turning in his grave over this one. If, you know, he hadn't clawed his way out of it last week.
I Dismember Paris
Woody Allen, believe it or not, is still a living, breathing human. But the man who once seemed to willfully go against mass tastes has delved whole-heartedly (and that's not just a metaphor) into this romance for the burgeoning zombie audience.
Newcomer Josiah Watson (living) and Allen standby Scarlett Johansson (zombie, alas) pair up in this flick after a cute meet at the base of the Eiffel Tower involving Watson's dog and Johansson's left pinkie toe. When Watson presents her with the only slightly gnawed digit, you can see the love in her black, dead eyes.
But is a relationship possible between a human and a zombie? Dimly lit bars provide the backdrop for many philosophical discussions around this point and the movie threatens to bore. Thankfully, when the film's mood feels as dead as Johansson's character, Jack Black and Zach Galifianakis appear in a hilarious scene as a couple celebrating their fifth anniversary who flirt with and cheer up Scarlett as she wanders the Avenue des Champs-Elysees after a particularly bad fight with Watson.
Allen hasn't completely lost his taste for the unexpected and I Dismember Paris will give most viewers a few surprises by its conclusion along with the laughs, tears, and bloodstains along the way.
Kill All Humans!
Robert Cummings (who, prior to Z Day, worked under the name Rob Zombie) has crafted a gem with this release, a scathing indictment of anti-human bias in the zombie community.
Rob Lowe portrays an evil zombie genius bent on the annihilation of non-zombie life from the earth. As a foil to him, Tom Cruise is the putative zombie "good guy" whose solution to the human "problem" is that living humans be placed on spaceships and sent to colonize Mars.
Neither Cruise nor Lowe, of course, is one of the turned undead. The deadface makeup work is exquisite, though, and if either of them shambled through the theatre you'd be apt to either greet them as an undead brother-in-arms or run screaming from them.
The film arrives with controversy as zombie activists claim it presents their kind in an unappealing light. San Francisco mayor Lee Cole has issued an executive order banning the film within the city. More concerning are the rumors of protest activity at theatres which screen the pic. Kill All Humans is well worth seeing, but the big screen does not add so much that you should risk your life over it. Drive past your cinema first and if it looks unsafe, catch this one on video instead.
Four Funerals And A Wedding
What's Reese Witherspoon to do? This movie, set ten years ago during the opening days of The Change, has her looking for love and finding it over and over again. But all of her male suitors end up dying before matrimony can be committed. She's a plucky gal, though, and bravely decapitates each of them in turn to prevent them from rising up to join the nascent zombie horde. At night, though, when she's alone with her vodka tonics and reruns of Coupling, she's clearly distraught by the shrinking pool of marriageable men in her cozy London suburb. The title, of course, gives the ending away though all does not go quite to Miss Witherspoon's plans.
There's an impressive sense of place and time to this one. Though it was filmed primarily in London's human enclaves, the producers do an excellent job of placing the viewer back in those uncertain days. Witherspoon, fresh off a long acting hiatus, hasn't missed a beat and those viewers who don't know who she is will be sure to remember her name.
Catch this one quick, if you want to see it. There's nothing here to appeal to the undead crowd, so this niche market appeal film is likely to be here and gone before you know it, like the living humans it's portraying.
This story was first published on Monday, February 23rd, 2015