Posts Tagged ‘Comic-Con’

I want to live in ZOMBIELAND!

October 2, 2009

zombieland

WARNING! THE FOLLOWING REVIEW IS LOADED WITH SPOILERS!

Ever since I first saw the original DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978), I’ve fantasized about being a survivor in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by flesh-eating zombies. Of course, I imagined that the zombies were of the slow walking variety and that my friends and I could easily run around them to escape. We would have long discussions about where we could go to hold ’em off, who we would want with us, what kind of weapons we could get, how we would pass the time when not killing zombies, etc. The idea of a zombie holocaust was not even a frightening thought to us. We loved zombie movies so much, we wanted it to happen. The idea of living in a world with no rules, where you can take any material possession you ever wanted for your own and the one who can kill the most zombies is the highest regarded among his peers, is where I felt I belonged. And on some days, I still do.

Maybe that’s why I loved ZOMBIELAND so much. Never has a zombie infestation been so goddamned entertaining! The film begins with a fantastic opening credits sequence that shows the world falling apart in a slow motion montage that is set to Metallica’s FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS. We then meet our two main protagonists, Columbus (JESSE EISENBURG) and Tallahassee (WOODY HARRELSON). Both are survivors of a massive zombie outbreak that was started by a contaminated hamburger. Like two lone gunslingers meeting in the wild west, they grudgingly decide to join up for awhile and help each other find what they are looking for. You see, there is a whole set of rules to surviving Zombieland and the most important one is not to trust ANYONE. Columbus wants to locate his family and Tallahassee just wants to get his hands on the last Twinkie left in the world, before it reaches its expiration date. In their travels they also meet up with two young sisters, Wichita (EMMA STONE) and Little Rock (ABIGAIL BRESLIN), whom both want to spend a day at the only zombie-free zone in the country, an amusement park called Pacific Playland. After an uneasy first encounter, the four join up and head to California for the adventure of their lives. Along the way, they kill a lot of zombies and learn to trust one another.

Columbus, Wichita, Little Rock and Tallahassee are gonna kick some zombie butt!

Columbus, Wichita, Little Rock and Tallahassee are gonna kick some zombie butt!

BATTER UP!

BATTER UP!

Nothing more frightening than a CLOWN ZOMBIE!

Nothing more frightening than a CLOWN ZOMBIE!

I really loved this movie! When I saw the ZOMBIELAND presentation at the previous COMIC-CON, I thought the footage they showed was good, but I remembered thinking that this film has got to be very funny in order to work. After all, SHAUN OF THE DEAD is a riot and the year has already given us the very entertaining Norwegian nazi-zombie comedy DEAD SNOW, so if ZOMBIELAND is gonna have any kind of a chance, it needs to be just as funny as they were. It is! And it does it while being totally original in a genre that is completely over-saturated. This can be attributed to a very well written script by RHETT REESE and PAUL WERNICK, excellent direction from RUBEN FLEISCHER and a fantastic cast led by WOODY HARRELSON, who creates an instantly iconic performance in the character of Tallahassee. He’s a badass zombie killer who’s tough facade hides a tragic pain from the past and WOODY plays it to perfection. There is also one of the greatest celebrity cameos I’ve ever seen before by BILL “FUCKING” MURRAY that comes out of nowhere and practically steals the whole goddamned movie! It is HILARIOUS!!

After the preview screening I saw, there was a Q and A with the two screenwriters responsible for ZOMBIELAND, RHETT REESE and PAUL WERNICK. They are both veterans of reality television and originally wrote ZOMBIELAND as a pilot that CBS almost filmed. After no luck as a T.V. show, they expanded the pilot into a full movie script and thank GOD for that! They said it was a great experience making the film and their script was never altered at all, except when they had to keep rewriting the celebrity cameo bit. Many stars were offered the spot before BILL MURRAY, including JEAN CLAUDE VAN DAMME, JOE PESCI, MARK HAMILL, MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY, SYLVESTER STALLONE, PATRICK SWAYZE, and THE ROCK. For one reason or another they couldn’t do it, but thankfully WOODY HARRELSON had BILL MURRAY’S number in his cell phone and after one call (and them faxing the script to MURRAY via a Kinkos in Manhattan that the writers joked was his production office) he agreed to step in and create comic magic the only way he can. Also, the movie was shot in Georgia for under 25 million dollars and if it does well, everyone involved wants to make a sequel!! I’m sure it will make a big profit and I’ll be looking forward to spending some more time in ZOMBIELAND in the future!

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I got my Comic-Con on!

July 27, 2009
Holy shit! I'm at Comic-Con!

Holy shit! I'm at Comic-Con!

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a nerd. But for one reason or another, I’ve never made the geek pilgrimage to San Diego to witness the spectacle that is Comic-Con. This year however, I scored a last minute ticket, and hot footed it to the “whale’s vagina” for a full day of nerdocity. I made it there around 10:00 a.m. on Saturday and hooked up with my good friends, The Popcorn Mafia. We hit the floor around 11 and as I made several passes around, I was dumbstruck by the amount of costumed nerds I saw. There was a pack of six predators that either came together, or met on the floor and decided to hang with each other. I’m not sure.

Somebody call Governor Schwarzenegger!!

Somebody call Governor Schwarzenegger!!

There were scores of nerd-ladies dressed like Wonder Woman, that varied on a sliding scale of hotness. I saw a stormtrooper dressed like Elvis. I saw robots, wizards, ninjas, jedis, hobbits, aliens, monsters, ghouls, Klingons, zombies, and Harry Knowles in the men’s bathroom waiting to take a leak. It was awesome!

Around 1:30, we hit the infamous Hall H, where we scored great seats and hunkered down for about 4 hours of geekgasms. The first panel we saw was for EXTRACT, the new Mike Judge comedy, starring Jason Bateman, Kristen Wigg, Mila Kunis, and Ben Affleck. It looks very funny and has an amazing ensemble cast. I’m a huge fan of Judge’s film work, including OFFICE SPACE and the criminally underrated, IDIOCRACY. The panel consisted of Mike Judge, Jason Bateman, and the gorgeous Mila Kunis, who was dissed by a young nerd asking a question, when she incorrectly complimented his “stormtrooper” costume and was informed, rather rudely, that it was in fact a “biker scout” costume. I gotta feeling this kid’s never gonna get laid with that attitude.

This was followed by the ZOMBIELAND presentation, which started off with a new super-violent comic-con exclusive trailer. It was a great trailer and made me even more excited about seeing it. I love zombie movies and this one looks like a big, crazy zombie-comedy, ala SHAUN OF THE DEAD, only on a much larger scale. The panel consisted of the director, Ruben Fleischer and cast members, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and the awesome, Woody Harrelson, who got a great reaction from the crowd. They showed us two scenes from the movie that were very good. One involved Jesse Eisenberg consoling a pretty girl he has a crush on who’s just been attacked by a zombie, only to have to defend himself against her once she turns into one. Another scene, involved Harrelson smashing zombies over the head with a banjo in a supermarket. Good times.

Next up, was 2012 with Roland Emmerich on the panel. It started with a brand new trailer that really rocked the house. Say what you want about him, but Roland Emmerich is this generation’s Irwin Allen and 2012 looks like the mother of all disaster movies! Emmerich showed us an action scene, but warned us beforehand, that about 70% of the effects were perfect and 30% needs a little more work. The scene I saw was jaw dropping cool and looked 100% to me. It featured John Cusack attempting to drive his family out to the airport as L.A. crumbles around him in what looks like a magnitude 50.9 size earthquake. Cusack drives through falling buildings and finally they get on a plane that takes off as the runway collapses underneath them. It was really fucking wild and I’m really looking forward to this.

There was a short break, but it was like the calm before the storm. I gobbled up a hot dog that tasted like an old shoe and a huge pile of the most disgusting nachos ever made, because I hadn’t eaten anything all day and was coasting on geek fumes. Then the spectacle of IRON MAN 2 filled the hall and made me forget about my hideous lunch for awhile. The moderator was introduced to the rabid crowd, some douche bag from Access Hollywood who’d been creeping us out with his insincere enthusiasm all day. He received a chorus of boos that echoed ominously throughout Hall H. He ignored it all and introduced the director, the guy from PCU, who showed us the world’s shortest trailer. Not even a trailer, but more like a teaser of a teaser. The expectant crowd tried to contain their disappointment when suddenly, Robert Downey Jr. (looking very Tony Stark) hit the stage and the joint went BANANERZ!  He insisted that they play some footage from the movie at once and we were treated to three new scenes from the upcoming sequel. One featured a meeting at Randy’s Donuts in L.A., between Stark and Sam Jackson’s Nick Fury. It was cool but very short. Second, was a congressional hearing, featuring Gary Shandling as a U.S. senator trying to force Tony Stark to give them his Iron Man suit for study. The scene was great and Downey is very funny in it. Last was a scene involving Don Cheadle (replacing the fired Terrence Howard) and Sam Rockwell getting together to build the War Machine suit, which we then saw in full on, ass kicking action. It was awesome!

Robert Downey Jr.'s face fills Hall H.

Robert Downey Jr.'s face fills Hall H.

Then they hauled out Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell to answer questions from the nerds. The highlight was when a geek asked the magnificent looking Johansson if she had to do anything special in the audition to get the part. She mentioned something about doing deep knee bends and every male nerd in the audience giggled and in unison ran to the bathrooms to masturbate. I got your “Iron Man” right here. OH! There was also some brief talk about the upcoming Avengers movie. I personally want to see a CAPTAIN AMERICA movie set in WW II more than anything, but that’s just me.

Hall H exhausted the shit out of me and the Popcorn Mafia. We also needed decent food and drink, so we all went to an Italian restaurant (big surprise) to recharge our batteries and share our feelings about everything we had just witnessed. Unsure of what to do next, I remembered a tip I got from my nerd friend Cat, who I stumbled into on the main floor earlier. She spoke to me of a place outside the convention center, on sixth street, that was a replica of Flynn’s arcade from TRON. Now, I’m a huge Tron maniac from way back in the day, so I convinced the group of nerds I was with to check it out. Great idea!

Wow! Flynn's arcade!

Wow! Flynn's arcade!

Classic 80's arcade games everywhere!

Classic 80's arcade games everywhere!

Back in the day, I was a master of the Tron arcade game.

Back in the day, I was a master of the Tron arcade game.

We waited in a line for about 20 minutes and then were allowed into a replica of Flynn’s arcade from the movie Tron, complete with 80’s arcade games. They had Battle Zone, Defender, Joust, Asteroids, Missle Command, and Tron the video game, which I was addicted to like a crackhead back in the day. We were all having fun playing video games, when suddenly a wall opened up and everyone was ushered into a dark hallway that had large, illuminated pre-production sketches of the new lightcycles for the upcoming sequel, TRON: LEGACY. The hallway led to a room filled with throbbing electronic music and low and behold, an actual full size lightcycle from the new movie! It looked awesome and I went into geek convulsions.

I was very impressed with the sketch of the new lightcycle.

I was very impressed with the sketch of the new lightcycle.

I was even more impressed with the actual lightcycle!!

I was even more impressed with the actual lightcycle!!

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Needless to say, I was totally blown away. And as a bonus, they gave us a free “Flynn’s Arcade” t-shirt as we left. It had been a very cool and long day for us, so the Popcorn Mafia and I hunkered down at the Hyatt to get drunk and go over our numerous adventures during the day. For my first ever Comic-Con experience, I was completely satisfied at all the coolness I had absorbed into my geek mind. Tired, I grabbed the arm of the nearest and most attractive nerd woman I could find and ran off into the night. The next morning I was on the road back to L.A., but I will return next year Comic-Con. You can bet your geek ass on that!