This 2019 sequel is directed by Ruben Fleisher, with Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick being joined in the writing room by Dave Callaham. With a 15 rating this zom-com action adventure film is less horror and more comic book, although expect to find bucket loads of blood and gore as heads explode and and zombies get splattered across the pavement.
In a Nutshell:
The gang gets split up and have to leave their presidential home. Bloody adventures await as the gang travel across the country in search of a Babylon to call their own.
Gimme some more detail:
A decade after the events of the first film, the team of Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita and Little Rock are split up. Little Rock – forever wanting to be treated as an adult; and Wichita – scared by a marriage proposal by Columbus, make a run for it. Columbus find a new ‘friend’ in Madison but this is only short lived as Wichita comes back to the fold. They decide to leave the comfort of the White House, and travelling across the country in search of Little Rock via Graceland. Since their last adventure a more dangerous breed of T-800 zombies have appeared on the landscape, which is a definite hurdle they will have to overcome as they journey towards a commune called Babylon. Along the way, all four must explore themselves, their wishes, and their desires so that they can come to terms with themselves and their place in life.
With a bigger budget and bigger cast, director Ruben Fleischer gets the ‘team’ back together to try and repeat the success of the first film. However, the tried and tested action and humour only carry so far as this film only improved on the box office takings of the first film ever so slightly. This had a budget of $42 million and grossed $122 million at the box office, while the first film had a budget of $23.6 and grossed over $100 million at the box office.
The idea for a sequel came up before the first one was fully released, cast and crew all voiced their interest in developing things further, and there certainly was scope to do so. The idea was to develop a franchise because there was that much scope to do so, and because everyone really enjoyed themselves. The original cast all signed up quickly, and others such as Rosario Dawson, Zoey Deutch, Avan Jogia, Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch were brought in.
With a runtime of 99 mins this film certainly delivers a nostalgia factor by reuniting the stars of the first film, but it does not really bring in many new things that were not already done in the first film. It is more of an exploration of the characters rather than progressive development. Columbus and Wichita consider their feelings for each other; Tallahassee has to get over the fatherhood that was stolen from him and start doing things that he wants to do; and Little Rock, still obsessed with growing up, goes looking for her teenage fun years. Little Rock is the main plot devise in this film, but while the journey is centred on her, she is only a small player in the overall film. Reinforcing the fact that it doesn’t really bring anything new to audiences, this film goes with the same narration, the same visual text overlays, the same jokes, it’s even got the same kind of cameo in it from Bill Murray again. The film tries to parody itself with the Albuquerque (Wilson) and Flagstaff (Middleditch) characters, but this felt like something that has already been done before elsewhere, in fact, that same feeling was something that happened in a lot of the set-up’s too, from the way Madison (Deutch) is ‘dumped’ to the inhabitants of Babylon.
Despite not bringing anything new to the table I still enjoyed the film. It’s not on the same level as the first film for innovation but it is still bloody fun that allows you to leave your brain at the door, to watch the lovely aesthetics as the simple plot unfolds on screen. The best aspect of the film for me is the 3 main actors of Harrelson, Eisenberg, and Stone. Yes, I know that Abigail Breslin is one of the central 4, but she seems to take a backseat in this. Even Zoey Deutch gets more screen-time than a Breslin’s reoccurring character – not that I’m complaining. As much as Deutch’s character is irritating she is well delivered and almost steals every scene she is in. While Harrelson and Eisenberg shone in the first film, Stone really come into her own in this film. She refuses to be pigeon-holed and goes on her own voyage of discovery. She is kick-ass with the action, but she also delivers some great comedy timing and high levels of sarcasm.
Wrap it up:
This is an unnecessary sequel, but it is still enjoyable enough. Expect the same comic book style approach to action, the same level of humour, the same… well a lot of the same. Fun, but nothing new.