My fear going into Zombieland: Double Tap was that it was a sequel everybody asked for but nobody needed. Sure, everyone wanted to see more of Little Rock, Wichita, Tallahassee, and Columbus, but the first film neatly tied up the storyline and didn’t really beg for a sequel. Thus comes the trouble for original writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who, along with Dave Callaham, were tasked with making a sequel screenplay materialize.
Zombieland: Double Tap sees the original cast taking up residence in Washington D.C. The White House, more specifically. Life is good for the four friends turned family-of-sorts. That is until an unforeseen marriage proposal and Tallahassee’s overbearing nature cause Little Rock and Wichita to flee in the middle of the night, leaving only a note to explain their decision. Will the ladies return home? Will the appearance of faster stronger zombies prove too big of a challenge for the four survivors? Will I say anything nice in this review? Answers to all of these questions and more to follow.
The second installment was rumored for some time; then the project was officially announced; and at long last, it finally went into production. I suspect the reason it took so long to get this project off the ground was a lack of original ideas for the screenplay. And unfortunately, that shows in the finished product. The storyline is predictable, unoriginal, and full of jokes that only land some of the time.
When Tallahassee finds out that Little Rock is dating a pacifist, he throws a 30-second long tantrum that isn’t at all funny. No one in the screening even chuckled. And unfortunately, that’s not the only scene that plays out without the intended effect. Throughout the film, there are setups for punchlines that don’t pay off because what’s coming is entirely predictable or because the joke isn’t all that funny in the first place.
One of my biggest problems with sequels that feature the original cast is that they have a predictable habit of breaking up the couple that got together in the first film so we can watch them fall in love all over again. It’s tired and a tad cliche. And unfortunately, it’s one of the major plot points in this follow up. The other noteworthy plot point is the introduction of The Terminator Zombie. Of course the writers had to up the stakes for the sequel but what was frustrating was that we didn’t learn much about what led to the mutation and The Terminator Zombie wasn’t really portrayed as all that threatening of a foe.
There are a few new supporting players introduced in this sequel. Zoey Deutch (Vampire Academy) plays Madison, an amalgamation of every air-headed character in every movie you’ve ever sen. The results are (predictably) underwhelming. Luke Wilson (Vacancy) makes a forgettable cameo as Tallahassee’s would-be twin. Rosario Dawson (Netflix’s Daredevil) definitely plays the most interesting of the new supporting players. But, sadly, her screentime is fairly minimal and her arc is underutilized.
The first two acts are pretty leisurely in getting where they are going. I think the writers may have relied too much on audience excitement over seeing the gang back together and thought that would pacify viewers until the fairly epic denouement. For me, it did not.
It was undeniably fun to see the gang back together. The four original cast members had an uncanny chemistry and they’ve still got it, but that really only goes so far. Especially when the dialogue isn’t particularly fresh.
It was great to see a familiar face return for a post-credit sequence that was better than almost anything that occurred during the first two acts of the film. Aside from the nostalgia factor and a pretty brilliant cameo after the credits start to roll, Zombieland: Double Tap is fairly forgettable and never comes close to the greatness of its predecessor.
I have the utmost respect for director Ruben Fleischer (who also helmed the first installment) but even he wasn’t able to make something meaningful out of the lackluster script he had to work with. Zombieland: Double Tap will hit theaters Friday, October 18th.
WICKED RATING: 5/10
Director(s): Ruben Fleischer
Writer(s): Dave Callaham, Rhett Reese, and Paul Wernick
Stars: Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Woody Harrelson, and Jesse Eisenberg
Release: Friday, October 18th
Studio/ Production Co: Columbia Pictures
Budget: $42 Million (Estimated)