Zombieland: Double Tap Review – How to Murray the Zombie Apocalypse
Zombieland: Double Tap isn’t nearly as good as the original film, but it’s not a sequel that’s attempting to outdo its roots. It’s a quick-witted expansion with more blood, more character development, and more sentimentality.
It felt like everyone wanted a Zombieland sequel for the decade in between the original film and Zombieland: Double Tap, but the more time that passed the more it felt like nothing more than a silly undead pipe dream.
Most of the cast has been a part of several major franchises and blockbusters over the past ten years and, in the case of Emma Stone, won an Oscar. Their careers took off since the ancient and forgotten year that was 2009 and a Zombieland sequel seemed like a fond memory that didn’t need to be revisited.
While it’s difficult to say whether or not Double Tap is a necessary sequel, it is a fun and entertaining shotgun blast to the dusty crypts within our brains that house buried nostalgic references we’ve likely forgotten about until this very moment.
The world has changed since the first Zombieland; not in a drastic sense but more of an adapting kind of way. Zombies have evolved and now mostly fall under three categories: dumb and harmless known as Homers, smart and dangerous called Hawkings, and stealthy and deadly named Ninjas.
A new zombie that is faster and nearly impossible to kill is nicknamed either T-800 or Bolt depending on who you ask. While the world is still about not becoming too attached and attempting to find that safe haven for the surviving humans, Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita, and Little Rock have also become more complicated.
Tallahassee is having the urge to branch out on his own again and his love for Twinkies has been replaced with an everlasting hatred for minivans while Columbus and Wichita struggle with where to take their relationship. Little Rock has reached the age where she wants to find a boyfriend and spend time with individuals closer to her age.
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With Tallahassee’s overbearing father tendencies toward Little Rock and Wichita being freaked out at Columbus throwing the idea of marriage at her, the group gets split up when Little Rock becomes romantically linked with a guitar-playing, song-stealing stoner pacifist named Berkeley.
Some franchises suffer from having too many years pass between films; look at how it turned out for Dumb and Dumber To and Anchorman 2. Double Tap makes it seem like the events of Zombieland aren’t as far away as they actually are.
The film references just how long it’s been, but you’re immediately sucked back in. The zombie apocalypse is merely a setup to establish the new and sudden conflicts this hand chosen family of four we’ve all become attached to now faces.
The opening credits of the sequel feels like they’ve added a fresh coat of splattered zombie brains to what is essentially a throwback to the opening of the previous film. Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” roars over our heroes as they demolish a cluster of undead to impressively gory results in slow-motion while they once again smash through the text of the credits with their maneuvers.
The real champions of Double Tap are the new characters it introduces. Avan Jogia’s Berkeley is nerve-grating hippie trash that gets more screen time than he deserves and Rosario Dawson’s Nevada isn’t as satisfying as it probably should be unless you count swapping spit with Woody Harrelson and having an infatuation with Elvis concrete character development. Madison (Zoey Deutch), Albuquerque (Luke Wilson), and Flagstaff (Thomas Middleditch) are all extraordinary though.
Madison may come off as ditzy and annoying to most, but what she lacks in brains she makes up with sass. She talks like a valley girl, but her tone is often reminiscent of Lumpy Space Princess from Adventure Time and she’s basically hilarious without even trying. Tallahassee’s and Wichita’s mockery of Madison also adds to the character’s entertainment value.
Albuquerque and Flagstaff are the bizarro versions of Tallahassee and Columbus. It’s insane how similar the four are yet so different at the same time. The rules-versus-commandments sequence was probably a total headache to write, but highly amusing for the audience.
Their long-winded and disastrous brawl within the “royally” decorated walls of The Hound Dog is a fast-paced action sequence that is not only a highlight of the film, but is in a similar (or not quite, but close) vein as the Freebird/church sequence from Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
One of the key elements that made the first film so great was its usage and devotion to Bill Murray. Double Tap continues that homage to Murray even though he died in the first film (sorry not sorry for the decade-old spoiler).
Nevada’s sole highlight in the sequel is when she explains what, “Murraying,” is. There’s also an end-credits sequence where Bill Murray is promoting the fake third film in the Garfield franchise called Garfield 3: Flabby Tabby. Murray is doing a press junket for the film’s release in 2009, which simultaneously takes place during the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. It’s essentially five minutes of Bill Murray clobbering the undead with dinner trays and various Garfield merchandise. If Murray had been this awesome in The Dead Don’t Die, then that film’s reception wouldn’t have been as divided as it is.
Films that have this big of a gap between its first and second films are typically not great, so there wasn’t a lot of hope on my end for Zombieland: Double Tap to be worthwhile. Maybe it’s because expectations were so low, but Double Tap is a worthy sequel that is laugh out loud funny at times with an ensemble cast that knows how to play to each other’s strengths.
Double Tap isn’t nearly as good as the original film, but it’s not a sequel that’s attempting to outdo its roots. It’s a quick-witted expansion with more blood, more character development, and more sentimentality.