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Zombieland

There are two major classifications of zombie movies. They are either horror films or parody films. Zombieland is one of the latter. That mean’s it’s funny. Ruben Fleischer makes his directorial debut and Jesse Eisenberg stars as a college kid struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. He teams up with a few other survivors, played by Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, and Bill Murray makes a cameo as himself.

The movie begins with Columbus (Eisenberg) explaining how the world has gone to shit and become infested with zombies. He has a list of rules (like cardio, limber up, check the back seat, enjoy the little things) that he follows religiously to stay alive. He meets another survivor going by the name Tallahassee (Harrelson).  Tallahassee is a badass with a knack for killing zombies and a soft spot for Twinkies. They form an unlikely partnership and soon come across sisters/con artists Wichita and Little Rock (Stone and Breslin). Despite the sisters stealing their guns a few times, the four of them team up and start heading to Pacific Playland, which is supposedly free of zombies.

Along the way they start bonding and getting to know each other. They hang out with Bill Murray for a little bit. Then there’s a conflict and the group separates. The sisters go to Pacific Playland and attract a horde of zombies, but Columbus mans up and rescues them with some help from Tallahassee. The girls are saved, Columbus gets the girl, and Tallahassee gets a Twinkie.

Zombieland is a good movie. It has an interesting premise, it’s funny, it has a great cast, and a distinctive look. It’s not the best zombie parody (Shaun of the Dead was funnier and smarter), but it’s definitely entertaining and worth watching. Jesse Eisenberg carries the film. He plays shy, nerdy guys better than anyone else in Hollywood. He’s like a suave, un-annoying Michael Cera. Woody Harrelson’s always fun to watch but his character is kind of one-dimensional, even with the revelation that he can’t cope with the death of his son. Emma Stone looks as lovely as ever. And you can’t go wrong with Bill Murray in one of the best cameos of all time.

Zombies are in right now. You should have seen this movie by now. You’re slacking if you haven’t. It’s been out for a few years now. You better get on that shit.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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The Amazing Spider-Man (film)

Hollywood has a thing for unnecessary reboots and remakes of popular franchises. So I was more than a little doubtful about seeing a new Spider-Man movie with a new cast and director. I thought it would just be another origin story about Peter Parker’s transformation into Spider-Man. Marc Webb made an already established franchise seem new and fresh, and Andrew Garfield plays a great Peter Parker.

Garfield’s Parker is not a loser, he’s shy, kind of quiet, but he rocks a skateboard and wears contacts. He gets picked on by a bully named Flash Thompson, but Flash is an asshole and no one else bullies Peter. He’s a regular kid (smarter than average), and that’s what makes his transformation more exciting.

Peter gets bitten by a magic spider and he gets spider-like powers. One inevitable day, his beloved Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) tries to stop a robber and gets shot and dies on the street. Peter uses his new abilities to try to track down his uncle’s killer. He goes around dark alleys and streets, searching for his uncle’s killer and attacking anyone who matches his description.

He eventually starts wearing a mask, and later a spiffy spandex spidey suit. He also wears some artificial web shooters and he becomes an icon around the city. He gets more confident and asks out his crush, the beautiful and smart Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Her dad is the chief of police and thinks that Spider-Man is a dangerous vigilante who needs to be stopped.

While Peter is busy playing hero and fighting crime and saving people, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) is busy trying to regrow his stump of an arm and turns himself into a giant lizard and goes on a rampage. Peter is able to figure out that Connors is the Lizard, and that Connors wants to improve humanity by turning them all into lizard monsters. Peter has to stop him because he has the power to stop him.

Then there’s an exciting climax where Spidey fights the Lizard and things break and people die. Then they resolve some unresolved plot issues and drop some hints about the sequel and you leave the theater feeling content.

The movie is called The Amazing Spider-Man. It should really be called the Amazing Peter Parker. There is a lot of emphasis on the man under the mask. He takes off his mask to save a kid, when he’s fighting the lizard in the school, and when he pleads to Chief Stacy to let him stop the lizard. The Spider-Man suit is just a costume, it doesn’t make Peter a hero. Peter is already a hero. Before Peter even gets bitten, he stops a bully from picking on a kid, and gets his ass beat as a result. He was a hero way before the spandex.

When you watch this movie, you can’t help but compare it to Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. Raimi’s version is campy, it’s childish, it’s like the ‘60s Batman TV show. Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man is more realistic; it’s more like Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies, just not as dark. Spider-Man is a fun character, he says witty things and wears a colorful suit and wants to be in the spotlight, not in the shadows.

Marc Webb is a great director. He creates genuinely emotional moments between the characters, and he is also able to create amazing and inspiring action sequences. When Uncle Ben dies, he pretty much just lies on the ground and is gone. There are no sentimental last words of advice, no “With great power comes great responsibility” hoopla.

Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield have a great dynamic. They play off each other well. They have a lot of memorable moments, like when he asked her out with out asking her out, how he revealed he was Spider-Man to her, and how he gets her back in the end with a subtle whispered comment in class.

Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield Star in The Amazing Spider-Man

The movie does a lot to establish itself as the foundation for a new series. A large amount of the movie takes place at OsCorp. Dr. Connors is working for the mysterious Norman Osborn, who you never see but often hear about. Peter never catches his uncle’s killer. You find out that there’s more to the deaths of Peter’s parents than what was revealed.

Spider-Man 2 used to be one of my favorite comic book movies. The Amazing Spider-Man just usurped that spot I think. It’s the best Spider-Man movie, without a doubt. Go see it and agree with me.

Critically Rated at 16/17

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