Once in awhile, something wonderful happens. A great movie gets new life, in the form of a sequel. Take, for example, my personal favorite, Predator. Oh, sure it’s got lots of flaws, but it’s like two movies in one. A macho man shoot ‘em up and an alien invader movie. Great fun, and I enjoyed every single sequel- even AVP: Requiem, which is a pretty lame movie. Only the super-awesome Wolf Predator with his buzzsaw whip saves the movie.
As great as sequels are though, there’s one thing even better. A TV Series.
Tremors had a three movies and a wonderful, thirteen episode TV series for a brief moment in 2004. Before they offended the UFO cult at the Syfy channel. Blue Thunder was an amazing movie I adored as a kid- the six episodes of its oft-forgotten TV series were not of the same caliber- but they were lots of fun. And who can forget the greatest TV Series-sequel of all time? The Six Million Dollar Man! Yep, three made-for-tv movies first, THEN five years of cyborg-awesomeness… and a spinoff series!
Well, as it turns out, there’s this awesome zombie movie from 2009 that is now getting the Series treatment. ZOMBIELAND.
If you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out. Woody Harrelson stopped campaigning for hemp long enough to give what I consider was his finest performance. Sure, the idea of Woody from Cheers battling zombies struck me as absurd when I first heard about it, but I’ll be ding-danged if Mr. Harrelson doesn’t deliver as the best redneck slayer of zombies this side of Bruce “Ash” Campbell himself!
Zombieland is part Army of Darkness, part Big Trouble in Little China, and part Shaun of the Dead. And, minus one brief discussion by two characters about the last time they went “ten toes”, the movie is child appropriate (assuming your kids aren’t terrified by the concept of zombies and lots of gory prosthetic makeup).
And now, Zombieland gets the TV series treatment. Sort of.
Amazon.com has this great idea to start doing their own series. Netflix is doing the same thing (Hemlock Grove, where I assume hemlock grows faster than the plot). Sadly, Woody Harrelson didn’t reprise his role as Nascar-lovin’, Redneck slayer “Tallahassee”. But they got a guy who does a serviceable job (albeit with less emphasis on the redneck and more on the WTF-is-wrong-with-this-guy).
In fact, none of the stars returned from the movie. Which is okay- the new Wichita is way hotter than (the Amazing) Spiderman’s Gwen Stacy. And the new Columbus is far less annoying than the founder of Facebook, or whatever his name is. I do kinda miss the movie’s Little Rock. She was more likeable than the new one. I think they’re really going for an annoying, obnoxious little girl in the series. Kudos to the new actress for nailing it so well. Little Rock was too likeable in the movie.
So what’s the series about? Well, it takes up right after the events of the movie- where Tallahassee and Columbus rescued Wichita and her kid sister Little Rock from a theme park infested with zombies, then set out for Mexico to ride out the zombpocalypse.
We get a decent flashback at the opening- showing Tallahassee’s first day as a zombie slayer. It’s actually better than the rest of the episode, which is heavy on ironic humor and light on action. Not as light as The Walking Dead, but still, a little light.
Aided by a survivor manning On-Star’s customer service department (possibly the most brilliant product placement ever), the team sets out to gather other survivors and form their own zombie-free community. Alas, not everyone is as lucky at surviving as our foursome. The episode ends with them driving off to the east, looking for a rumored settlement of survivors.
I only hope this show was actually filmed around the country. Episode one is clearly in L.A., and uses famous landmarks to show this. I think it would make an awesome first if each episode they really went to other states. I’d love to see Tallahassee at the Cadillac Ranch in Texas, or Wichita blasting zombies at Bloomingdale’s. This could be a wonderful road trip/buddy film/zomromcom all rolled into one.
However… before I give this my ultimate fanboy stamp of approval… I have to note something. It was advertised on Facebook as free to watch. But when I went to Amazon’s site to check it out, I found I had to be a Prime member to watch. That costs $79 a year. I was able to try Prime risk-free for thirty days, so my kids were pleased to watch the pilot I had promised them, but I don’t think I can justify $80 a year for 20-something minute episodes. Hopefully, those of us that don’t need Prime can just buy the episodes for a few bucks a pop. Just like I did with Tremors: the Series, before it came out on DVD.
Zombieland: The Series? 3.5 Stars. I had to take away one star for the slowness and rationing of zombie kills, and the lack of Woody Harrelson. I had to take away another star for Amazon’s crazy Prime membership requirement to view. I awarded a half-star for the new Wichita being way better looking than the movie version.