Zombie Dynamite

In modern popular culture, "Oscar" is not ordinarily a term associated with quality or refinement. And the "Academy Awards" are just that, some awards given out by a trade group to favored members for achievements real or imagined.

So I don't know who won. There's probably a list on the internet somewhere.

But I do watch movies. I try to take in some high-falutin' artsy stuff as often as not, which means I've sat through plenty of Italian neo-realist and French Nouvelle Vague and classic film noir and 1970s American renaissance stuff and Bergman and Fellini and Altman and Orson Welles. Kubrick and Kurosawa too.

Which brings me, naturally, to last week's Redbox rentals: Zombieland and Black Dynamite.

(Hey, if Redbox carried Bergman for a buck, you'd be reading about Wild Strawberries or something. They don't.)

Zombieland is the latest, but probably not the last, in the growing spate of post-modern zombie movies being churned out over the past few years (28 Days Later, Shaun of the Dead, pretty much anything with Natalie Portman, etc.). It's a comedy, which right off the bat is a big improvement over, say, I Am Legend (which answered the question no one asked: "Hey! Why doesn't Will Smith do a really dull zombie movie?").

The best thing in Zombieland is not the cameo by the big name star smack in the middle of the movie -- although that was all right -- but Emma Stone. Who? Emma Stone is the semi-weird, semi-hot (it's OK; she's over 18; I checked) young actress who was the object of the fat kid's desire in Superbad (which was pretty funny) and then the mall punk bass player in The Rocker (which wasn't). She has a more substantial role here, with, like, whole scenes and dialogue and stuff. She's pretty good, although she still only has about one note. It's a good note, though.

Zombieland isn't even 90 minutes long, which is actually to its credit, 'cause it drags a little even at that. They could've toned down the rather graphic violence and gross 'n gory special effects, seeing as how it's a comedy and all, but I guess the kids go for that sort of thing.

Black Dynamite is -- perhaps disappointingly -- not the sequel to Napoleon Dynamite, but a spoof of the black exploitation flicks of the early 1970s. For this to work, the star has to be believable as a potential action hero, rather than just a wise guy winking his way through it ironically. Michael Jai White, whoever that is, fit the bill.

The trailer (see below) gives a pretty good indication of the level at which this is pitched (plus throws in a few extra jokes on its own). The story, by design, jumps all over the place and ultimately doesn't make any sense as a coherent whole, but the central plot point, such as it is, is LOL funny and actually pretty clever.

Like Zombieland, this clocked in at just about 90 minutes, so it's not like you're investing a week in Kieslowski's Decalogue or something. Plus it's in Cinemaphonic Quadrovision, so how can you go wrong?


Zman said...

Emma Stone was a favorite in Zombieland.. still I didn't really like that movie as much as I thought I would...

Black Dynamtie :)

Donna Ulrich said...

Who knew that talent runs in the family? Great job Mike!

Debbie, i obsess said...

Will skip blithely past Zombieland in the direction of Black Dynamite (which actually means I'll add BD to my queue and pretend I've never heard of ZL).

What a good, writerly fambly. The Halushkis rule at blogging squared!

(That sounds vaguely insulting. As if I'm inferring you're squares. It's supposed to be a math reference. NOW who's being insulted? Yeah. Me. *That's who.*)

Katie Alender said...

Emma Stone was actually really funny in "House Bunny." (She was the only funny thing left, once you'd seen all the movie's jokes in the trailer.)

Angela said...

I'm not a big fan of zombie movies.

I think my husband would probably like the other

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