“Welcome to Zombieland. Back for seconds? After all this time? Well, what can I say, but thank you. You have a lot of choices when it comes to zombie entertainment, and we appreciate you picking us.”
Zombieland was an unexpected gem, a cynical and yet strangely joyous take on the apocalypse. Although fans clamoured for a sequel, the rising stars of Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone meant that it took a full decade to arrive and in many ways that is Double Tap‘s biggest problem in a saturated genre, even as Columbus addresses it in his introductory voice over. The chief culprit is the script which, although it contains a few laugh-out-loud moments, is largely a retread of the original’s road trip formula. The handful of new characters we meet are one-note caricatures rather than rounded individuals with the emotional depth that elevated Zombieland. Similarly, the high energy of a mid-credits flashback sequence serves only to highlight how muted Double Tap often feels. The result: a frequently entertaining but decidedly shallow sequel that offers no reason to rewatch it rather than its predecessor.
“Sometimes, you look like a badger. And you can rely on me to tell you. “
Sumptuous period costuming allows The Favourite initially to lull the viewer into a false sense of familiarity before Yorgos Lanthimos’s sly humour and trademark weirdness emerge. More accessible than The Lobster (perhaps in part because he is adapting an existing screenplay), The Favourite is a delightful, subversive take on politics in the court of Queen Anne and the rivalry between two of her closest confidants. Plainly fictionalised, the film relies less on historical accuracy than the believability of its leads — three women at the height of their game. Rachel Weisz is coldly ruthless, Emma Stone vulnerable but deceptive, and Olivia Colman is excellent, earning an Oscar by carving a genuinely tragic figure at the centre of this dark comedy.
“I don’t know whether to help you or euthanize you.”
Infuriating punctuation aside, this romantic comedy strives for greater quality and depth than its peers, even as it relies on familiar tropes. It is largely successful through acting talent and valuing thoughtful drama over laughs. Steve Carrell is allowed to make the newly single Cal sympathetic rather than a sad sack caricature. Where the comedy surfaces, it is typically wry rather than laugh-out-loud, with the best lines tending to have darker overtones. It is noteworthy that the central couple are a middle aged husband and wife who share remarkably little screen time. As is often the case with even the smarter rom coms, the movie struggles to find a conclusion and falls back on awkwardly saccharine displays, despite undermining the “grand gesture”.