“Zombieland: Double Tap” review: You’re going to wish you could double tap this

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“Zombieland: Double Tap” review: You’re going to wish you could double tap this

Mackenzie Jones, Staff writer

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WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS

This 2019 sequel consists of hippies, doppelgängers, Elvis lovers, a rulebook and of course: zombies. “Zombieland: Double Tap,” made up of comedy and action is the long awaited second movie to “Zombieland” (2009). It was great to see the returning characters grow a decade older post-apocalypse.   

After a quick narration of the different types of zombies, the opening scene features approaching zombies, armed weapons, and is set in the abandoned world the characters left off in the first movie. This is when the audience witnesses the four returning characters Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) and Wichita (Emma Stone) age ten years forward. The most noticeable immediate change is Wichita’s little sister, Little Rock who isn’t so little for her return, as she isn’t twelve years old anymore from 2009.

A summarization of Zombieland: Double Tap” is simply put as the continuation of zombie killing adventures. The plot is them seeking a way back to how life was before the apocalypse occurred. Unique to this movie, the youngest, rebellious character, Little Rock, leaves her team members to find peace. As a result, the group is forced to take a road trip to find her. On their trip, they are looking in places they think she’d run away to in hopes to find her. While on their journey, the rest of the group stumbles upon many new characters, which are equally as hardcore and loveable as the original characters.

Tallahassee still holds the title of the average confident tough guy and father figure to the rest of the characters. He also momentarily finds romance with a renegade girl named Nevada (Rosario Dawson). He continues to fight zombies, but his extreme hunt for Twinkies is entirely done away with and replaced with going on the look for Little Rock. Fortunately, his Elvis Presley enthusiasm in this movie shows just about as much as his past Twinkie obsession. Audience members might be sad to see Twinkies leave the screen as it played a big humorous part of Tallahassee’s character.

Little Rock is more absent than she appears to be on screen for the sequel; she has a good explanation for being gone. In an attempt to get away from the zombie killing and violence, she seeks a peaceful and zombie-free lifestyle. Luckily, Little Rock isn’t on the journey to a better headspace on her own. She is tagging along with Berkeley (Avan Jogia), a guitar-playing hippie who doesn’t know how to write his own songs, adding a comedic element to the movie. 

A zombie apocalypse movie isn’t complete without the certified nerdy character, Columbus. He keeps the rest of the characters in line by making sure they don’t get eaten. He remains the narrator role to give the audience context, standing alongside Tallahassee for guidance and of course, recites survival rules from his mental rulebook. While romance for Columbus comes and goes throughout the sequel, the fast moving action keeps his life on the move. One of the biggest parts of action involving Columbus is when his doppelgänger, Flagstaff (Thomas Middleditch) and Tallahassee’s doppelganger, Albuquerque (Luke Wilson) make their entrance. Their lookalikes add both enjoyable comedy and excitement to the movie. Flagstaff and Albuquerque are compared to Columbus and Tallahassee in looks and personality then out of nowhere they transform into zombies, attempting to attack their normal lookalikes. 

Wichita’s role for the sequel is trying to juggle looking for her sister, turning down an engagement, dealing with her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend and killing zombies. While she is caught up doing those things, Wichita still manages to take charge among her male sidekicks even if it means leaving a poorly written note after a shocking proposal. All in all, it is safe to say she is just as clever and independent in this movie as she was in Zombieland. 

An interesting new addition is added to the list of characters: American actress Zoey Deutch. She plays the role of the stereotypical dumb blonde, Madison. She is first discovered by Columbus and Tallahassee in an abandoned mall where she tells them that she has been living in a freezer. Her living in a freezer signifies her lack of intelligence and common sense, hinting that the only reason she hasn’t been eaten by zombies yet is because she has no brains. Although she may give off the impression of being an obnoxious character in the beginning, and mostly assumed she’ll die first, she must’ve gained some brains from Columbus. By the end of the movie, she surprisingly transforms into being a very lovable, hilarious and believe it or not, helpful character. 

Now that all of the memorable characters are introduced, the effect that these characters made on “Zombieland: Double Tap” was off the charts. There are characters that add necessary humorous elements to the movie such as Little Rock, Berkeley, Columbus and Madison then ones that add action elements to the movie such as Tallahassee, Nevada and Wichita. In the first movie, the comedy and action elements were equivalent which most watchers enjoyed. For instance, if there was an overload of zombie killing then humor would come in to make the movie tie together as a comedy action movie. Luckily, “Zombieland: Double Tap” gave the same balanced effect which was amazing. 

Going along with the characters, a part that I personally enjoyed from the sequel was the cast. In most cases, sequels are a hit or miss, especially a sequel as old as ten years after the original such as this one. An aspect I believe contributes to a hit sequel is if the same actors are used instead of the audience having to adjust to a set of new faces. Thankfully, all four of the main characters made their phenomenal return to continue playing their roles for round two. Watchers may appreciate this instead of Ruben Fleischer, the director, putting an entirely new cast in their place. 

Keeping the same characters from the first to the second movie is important in making a successful sequel. In addition, choosing the right actors and actresses to play the character roles is just as, if not more, important. “Zombieland: Double Tap” nails that aspect for sure. For instance, Madison, as previously stated, is the nutty blonde. Deutch seems to be the perfect actress for this role as she is meant to make the audience laugh. Deutch has proved she can play both serious and comedic characters in the past. Examples are her popular girl role as Samantha in Before I Fall (2017) and her quirky sports editor role as Harper in Set It Up (2018). 

Although the main character’s personalities are unique and well liked, the biggest character role didn’t make much of a debut which may be disappointing to watchers. Throughout the movie, zombies would occasionally attack in groups for a few minutes of screen time. Overall, there weren’t a lot of zombies, at least not as many as one would hope for in a zombie movie. The reasoning for the lack of zombies may have contributed from the apocalypse dying down. In other words, there just weren’t as many zombies left to kill as in the first movie. Besides the low number of zombies, the whole idea of a sequel to “Zombieland” could have been completely scrapped. Although the character reunion and their adventures was amazing to see, there honestly wasn’t a huge need to continue the story. A possible reason the directors chose to make a sequel is to ensure the audience the apocalypse survivors from “Zombieland” did indeed make it out alive after ten years. Even with the lack of zombies and the unnecessary second movie, these two factors weren’t anything major that changed the movie to a miss from a hit.

“Zombieland: Double Tap” earns a rating of an A- simply because of the zombies absence which shouldn’t be lacking in a zombie movie and that “Zombieland” could have easily stood on its own. Overall, the movie was an outstanding hit next to “Zombieland” with a perfect comedy to action ratio, a much needed character reunion and hilarious fresh faces.

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