Saturday, October 3, 2009

STILL, BETTER THAN SUPER MARIO BROTHERS: I agree with most critics about Zombieland. It's a heckuva a lot of fun, and features some impressive visual stylings, and a spectacular cameo (and seriously, the less you know about the cameo going in, the better--I was about 60% spoiled, knowing who it was and half of the character information). Yes, there's not a whole lot of plot there--four mismatched people try to get from point A to point B while evading zombies. Why are they going there? Well, we're given dirty reasons for 3 of the 4 characters (not sure why Harrelson's character wants to go there). But what surprises me in how little it's been remarked upon, is how, even though it's not based on a video game, the movie owes far more to a pair of video games than anything else (yes, including Shawn of the Dead, its obvious forebear).

First is Left 4 Dead, in which four survivors fight off hordes of "infected" (primarily using guns) as they strike to get to a "Safe zone," climaxing in a big environmental firefight. The movie's structure feels like a L4D "campaign," down to a final firefight in a cool and tricky environment with survivors running out of ammo, and I'd be shocked not to see a mod for the game that's based on the movie. The second is Dead Rising, in which a photojournalist fights off hordes of zombies in a mall using whatever comes to hand--several of the more inventive zombie kills in the movie (Harrelson's improvised weaponry in a grocery store in particular) draw directly from DR, which lets you kill zombies with garden shears, plates, baseball bats, and anything else you can imagine. If you enjoy the movie, check out the games--they're good fun.

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