Monthly Archives: October 2009

TNTM: Zombieland


Man, have you seen Zombieland, yet?  Well, you don’t need to rush.  It’s pretty good, but I would have have enjoyed it as much on DVD.

Zombieland is the new zom-rom-com from some people I’m not bothering to look up.  Obviously, it garners comparisons to “Shaun of the Dead,” which is okay since they are both funny and about zombies.  But funny in different ways.  Also (SPOILER ALERT) Zombieland has Bill Murray in it.  Got that going for it.

Anyway, let me get my rant out of the way.  People keep talking about how Shaun of the Dead was the first romantic comedy with zombies, and Zombieland is kind of a ripoff.  Okay, first, by the standards of “romantic comedy” set by both these movies, Return of the Living Dead is the first romantic zombie comedy I know of, followed by Dead Alive.  I would argue Dead Alive to be a bit more romantic than RotLD, but RotLD carries the “black” comedy as well (it’s humor far more subversive than ZL or SotD).  I s’pose DA (INITIALS ARE AWESOME!) is BC as well, but WE.

Also:  The humor in both movies is so different.  SotD is so very…British.  The humor is dry and witty and stoic and depressing.  The humor in ZL is so American with its slapstickiness.  And montage.  Oh, montage.  Battleship Potemkin had no idea what it unleashed on the world with those damn stairs.

Zombieland was very satisfying.  It tells the tale of a young nerd who is surviving in the post-zombie world as he meets strange and wonderful companions and Bill Murray.  There’s a girl involved.  It’s pretty interesting.  I found myself more shocked that Abigail Breslin was in it than Bill Murray, to be honest.

Well, Jesse Eisenberg plays the “lead,” as it were.  He’s pretty good.  I regret never having watched “Adventureland” mostly because I paid for the rental.  No time.  Anyway, the only problem is that I keep remembering the movie with Michael Cera in the lead, which I think Eisenberg would find incredibly depressing.  He gets the job done, though.

Woody Harrelson is the epic in this picture, though.  My God.  This man has the best comedic timing of all the Woody Harrelson’s I’ve ever seen.  I was very much hoping the celebrity house they crash in the film would be that of a caracatured Woody Harrelson.  Anyway.  He delivers most of the raw comedy and, surprisingly, the most heartfelt scene.

The two girls were two girls.  They didn’t add much.  Both were capable.  Abigail Breslin?  Really?  That’s pretty crazy.  This girl must have a sweet agent or a solid head for comedy.  Last I knew, she was Kitt Kittredge.  Emma Stone really does deliver her character well, but Emma Stone drives me crazy.  Like, her voice or something.  Which is too bad because when she was impersonating Janine in the Ghostbusters scene, she was dead on.  The girl has some comedic chops for sure, but I’m not totally sold on her.

The romantic aspect of the movie?  Lame.  Anybody calling this a rom-zom-com is mistaken.  The rom is in there like it’s in Animal House.  Animal House is not a Romantic Comedy.

I also just (right now) read this review with Woody Harrelson (veggie!) and it said critics were calling Zombieland a sleeper hit, which is (I try to avoid swearing in my blog, because Google can destroy your career, so pretend I did and that I tacked on an offensive euphemism as well) inaccurate.  I’ve known about this movie for ages and the Internet hype has been HUGE.  These are apparently critics who have never heard of a “computer.”  I trust ’em.

Well, the good:  The jokes hit.  The stuff that is supposed to be funny is funny.  Just good comedic funny.  There’s no real creep-outs with the zombies or anything like that and the drama doesn’t get too high.  Woody is amazingly funny.  I feel he’s highly underrated as a performer.    The Bill Murray cameo was amazingly funny – Bill being a king of comedic mastery.  Several of the “kills” are highly inventive and the gore is kept fairly minimal.

Woody’s scene when we find out his son has died is well done by him as well, and sets up a good Eisenberg line later on.  This Eisenberg line comes out really well and I didn’t feel an ounce of cheese in it because he delivered it so well.  Props be to him for that.

On screen text must be mentioned as it was quite entertaining.  Excellent use of captioning throughout with these bits.  They are the source of some great funny bits.

So what’s bad?  Well, the scene where we find out Woody’s son has died is right after Bill Murray dies (humorously) and seems out of sync with the rest of the movie.  Part of why we care so much is because it’s juxtaposed with that scene, but there’s not really any other scenes that make the same kind of statement.  The scene works, but only just.

I’m not a huge fan of Woody’s twinkie subplot which I found rather stupid.  Perhaps I am supposed to.  But I could have done without it.

Overall, it is hard for me to explain.  I like RotLD and SotD better, but I can’t quite put my finger on the “why.”  I think part of it is all the clever things ZL brings up and then we never see again.  Like the “Zombie Kill of the Week.”  We see it once with the neat logo and never again.  It would have been nice to see it once more later on, perhaps when our Columbus whacks zombies with a amusement park ride.

Columbus (that’s Eisenberg, btw) has this voice over in a lot of the movie and I think it really, really, gets over used.  It’s good at the start, but it gets annoying quickly.  I am a minimalist, generally, so that’s me talking, but it could be a big chunk.

Anyway, even non-zombie fans would probably enjoy this flick.  So, go see it.  Or not,  Whatever.

T-Shirts and Memories

Those who know me well may be surprised to learn my sentimental streak exists.  Never much do I showcase an overly sentimental appearance.  The end of things saddens me if I have put a lot of myself into them; but I generally move on fairly well.  Today has brought to me the task of sorting through clothes to leave in Oklahoma, clothes to take home, and clothes to give to Goodwill.

Oh, Goodwill, your cycle is one of sadness.

Looking through old shirts is a hard task for me, as I am in the habit of keeping them for a long time.  Pictures have never been my style and they have filled that gap.  Therefore, the drawers still contain a 1998 Fruitport Soccer t-shirt and a wrestling clinic T.  I still have a long sleeve NMU Rugby shirt I bought senior year of high school because I planned on playing rugby.  (spoiler alert!  I didn’t)  This is probably the worst of shirts as I used it mainly for working out and manual labor.  The cuffs are falling off.

Camp shirts are also amazingly hard to get rid of.  I don’t care for tie-dye, but still have two in the closet.  A staffie and a “weekend warriors” sleeveless number.  Camp shirts have been hard to dismiss as my wardrobe once contained 85% Pendalouan Trading Post merchandise.  Possibly because I worked there, but I am not too sure of the reason.  They hold extreme value sentimentally, despite several other items from camp that should arguably mean more to me (they do).

I don’t have this problem with pants.

It is not so good to be a packrat.  I have a “Cover of Life” t-shirt I don’t anticipate wearing  much at all as the applique is far too large for my comfort – I am a chest sweater – but I still don’t want to give it away because of the memories.

I know some folks will understand what I am saying; other folks will think me crazy.  But there’s memories packed into these threads.  And I’m also lazy and not a fan of getting new ones.  Which I don’t need, since I have a lot already.


Here is a link:

I thought I would espouse a bit of love for my favorite website lately, which is io9.  It is a member of website family that includes Lifehacker, Kotaku, and Gizmodo (my other three favorites of the group).  io9 is a site for science fiction, though it travels into fantasy occasionally and speculative fiction.  This type of stuff is my bread and butter.  Considering my apathy toward pro sports (excepting hockey, go Wings!) my mind has mulled possibly changing my conversation starters with people.

THEM:  How ’bout them Lions?

ME:  I don’t watch sports, and I’m not going to talk about them.  Do you watch sci-fi shows?

THEM:  What?

ME:  If you aren’t capable of carrying a discussion on Doctor Who, Fringe, the Twilight Zone, or the possible altering of the timeline through temporal travel, I have little use for you.

THEM:  I like Back to the Future.

ME:  Awesome.

This will not happen because a) I am too polite and 2) I am kind of a wuss in social situations.  Put me in a room with teachable children (all) and I will be lord and master in short order.  Throw me in front of a crowd aching to learn a bit about stuff I care about and I am excellent.  Toss me in a room with strangers and I will sit on the couch sipping beer and waiting for my wife to be ready to leave.

Hence, io9.  They post amazingly well-thought rants at time, updates on weird science in real life, and space pictures.  Aptly titled “space porn.”  It is a site that someone created because they thought “I wonder what kind of site Matthew Abel would like.”  And i do.

But the articles are a mere tip of the iceberg.  Nestled beneath photos of Matt Smith filming Doctor Who, or hate mail to Michael Bay is a robust comments section.  It is unlike any comments section I have ever witnessed.  Not once have I seen the word “fag” or witnessed unneeded vulgarity.  There’s the usual chorus of random agreements, but there are also amazingly crafted responses to the articles.  I tell you truthfully, there have been comment responders who write better and support stronger points than the actual authors.

It is like a forum, or sorts, and I admit I haven’t searched to see if a forum actually exists.  I am content to read and post and have a good time.  I am failing to figure out how to be notified if I am responded to in a post, but I am sure to discover that.  It may have much to do with the fact I log in using my Facebook profile.  You can do that.  It’s quite convenient.

So, for the three of you reading this who are into sci-fi, link over there.  It’s awesome.

TNTM: Fringe, FlashForward, Smallville

Oh man, have you seen this show, Fringe?  It is an excellent sci-fi romp that I enjoy watching.  Seriously.  Some shows, I sit and watch and I’m all “When will they get to the end so I can find out the latest twist in the plot?”  But not so (much) with this show.  What’s really nice is that it had a strongish start, went downhill mid-season, and is now climbing up.  The season finale was excellent and the second season premiere was, too.  Very excited for this week’s ep, which I will view via Hulu later today.

Oh, Internet.  You are amazing.

What I like about Fringe compared to the other Abrams series I have seen, which is Alias, is that it’s a little less confusing.  And they have less to set up each episode.  There were a few “My father was in a mental institutuion” lines too many last season, but it was no where near the level of re-exposition I heard in Alias.  And I swear to God Sydney Bristow’s every other scene involved her mentioning the need to “compartmentalize” her emotions or whatever.  Too much family drama.

There’s family drama in Fringe, but it is much easier to take.  Man, Walter Bishop as the kidnapping father is tight.  This is my favorite mad doctor of all time.

Then I saw FlashForward, which was boring.

Smallville!  Wow, have you seen this show lately?  Holy Crap!  This show sucks. It used to toe the line between good and sucky and remain a guilty pleasure for me, but the season opener was so boring.  I found myself genuinely not caring what happened to these people.  Who cares?  And now we get Major Zod, who seems to have appeared (somewhat) out of nowhere with an army he commands to kneel before him.  I don’t know who is in charge of the Kryptonian Army (Marines?  Navy?) but demanding your soldiers “kneel before” you is a bit ridiculous.  I’d go AWOL after a day.

Zod didn’t have people kneel as a show of respect – ala this episode – it was as a show of subservience.  You know, after he conquered places.  So, this kind of screwed up the character.

But what can they do?  They’re out of Luthor, they squandered Braniac, and the few other villians that show up are lame.  They keep spouting off about Clark’s “Destiny” without him really getting closer to throwing on an actual costume.  And costumes!  Good Lord, Smallville, fire your costume designer right now!  From Green Arrow to Impulse to this silly black trenchcoat thing (is that a bleached “S”?) they just don’t seem to work well.

A big problem with this first season 9 ep is that it was packed with continuity.  A person just coming into Smallville would not know what the hell was going on and would be flummoxed as to where Lex Luthor was.  And since the show is bleeding viewers, they need to do all they can to pull new ones in.

My solution:  Hire me.  I could retcon and revamp the hell out of this show.  I’d use on of those Temporal what-jiggits.