As the intro credits to Zombieland roll, to the headbanging sounds of Metallica's For Whom The Bell Tolls, it is swiftly obvious why the movie is R-Rated. While most films thus far have relied on quick savage shots of violence, director Ruben Fleischer makes his mark with his first big movie by taking a different approach: The audience is treated to slowed down but crystal clear shots of heads being bashed, people being eaten, and blood flying all over the place. Mix this level of gore and almost comic-book violence with the brilliantly funny script by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, and suddenly new-life is breathed into the genre of the undead.
And I can't believe I just said that.
Zombieland centers around the socially awkward Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) as he is drawn out of his somewhat self-imposed isolation by the outbreak of zombies. With the "guts of a guppy", as another character puts it, Columbus braves his many fears, irritable bowel syndrome, and potential getting-eaten-by-a-zombie to head across what is left of America to try to find his parents in Columbus, Ohio (hence his name). Surviving thanks to his list of rules, and his overactive sense of fear, Columbus soon meets up with Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) , his polar opposite. Tallahassee is a take-no-prisoners, possibly psychotic, zombie killer who thoroughly enjoys what he does, and obviously has no small amount of talent for taking out the undead. The story then follows this unlikely duo as they meet up with the sexy Wichita (Emma Stone) and her younger sister Little Rock (Abigail Breslin; Each character is named after their home town so that they don't get too close to each other). Each of them have different goals, Columbus wants to find his parents, Tallahassee is on an obsessive quest to find the last remaining Twinkie, and Wichita and Little Rock are heading to Pacific Playland.
I won't tell you any more about the movie than that, as anything else I tell you will just spoil it for you when you actually come to watch it. Just know that Zombieland is the funniest zombie movie for a long time, with some great action and gore, and a script that renews my faith in the ability of the zombie genre to still be able to come out with new and entertaining material. In particular a cameo from a certain well known Hollywood star has some hilarious moments, and the star in question absolutely steals the movie for every scene they are in (and even some that they only appear in as paintings). Each of the four main actors / actresses plays their part brilliantly; Eisenberg slips into his role as a over-worried, under-sexed teen effortlessly, while Stone plays his rebellious female mirror so well that the chemistry between the two just flows naturally; and Breslin brings a biting sass to her character that really sells the "forced to grow up too soon" motif. But personally it was Woody Harrelson who really stood out, playing a borderline psychotic character with a surprising side to him.
In short: If you are a fan of zombies, gore, comedy, action, or entertaining movies in general, this is the must-see film of the moment. Too funny to miss, and too good to wait for it on DVD, it's well worth seeing on the big screen.