Posts tagged ‘Zombies’

iZombie

I really wanted to like this.  I do actually like the lead actress.  I also like the character that she inhabits.  I do not like the fact that Comcast On Demand forces me to watch their commercials and prevents me from fast forwarding through those bits.  So I’m a little jaded here.  I tried watching it via a legitimate venue, but Comcast’s actions make me feel like I should torrent iZombie if I’m going to keep watching it.

Am I going to keep watching it?  I’m not sure yet.  Considering that I was consistently yelling a hearty “Fuck you!” at Comcast throughout every single commercial that their On Demand service forced me to watch, it makes me want to completely cancel my cable TV service and just rely on their internet service for downloading torrents.  And the story seemed a li’l pedestrian … I thought Liv’s character was fairly well developed, but her surrounding characters were this side of cardboard.  However, I’m still a sucker for zombie stories … so I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt for the time being, and I’ll download subsequent episodes instead of bothering to watch them On Demand, and we’ll see how it goes.

Oh, and by the way … officially … from the mouth of someone who has been a customer since Babylon 5 moved to TNT back in 1998 … fuck you, Comcast.

 

The Battery

An awesomely intriguing character study of two fellas doing what they need to do to try to survive a zombie apocalypse in New England.

Wow.  “Like rain on a tin roof.”  This film is amazing.

 

The Dead 2

Continuing on with the “I’m a sucker for a zombie apocalypse” theme, I was pretty impressed by the Ford brothers’ The Dead and very disappointed that I missed the sequel on the big screen.  This film is billed as The Dead 2: India, but the actual onscreen title is just The Dead 2.

First thought in the opening three minutes: I bleedin’ LOVE the soundtrack.  Imran Ahmad, do you have any CDs available?  Yes you do!  Yay!

Like the original, this film is extremely well done.  Tense, believable (about as believable as a zombie film could be), and I appreciate that the Ford brothers have the requisite intelligence and courage to show us the necessary exposition instead of telling us.  Too often bad writers will cram gobs of exposition into unnecessary dialog when they could take the time to show it to us through the characters’ actions.

When I see a particular zombie apocalypse survival scenario, and I say half-sarcastically to the main character, “Why don’t you just do such-and-such?”  And then, one minute later, they actually DO it … it sends shivers up and down my spine.  I see a lot of online complaints that this sequel is not different enough from The Dead, that it is just more of the same.  This one particular moment (I can’t spoil it by telling you what it is) sets this film on a pedestal a level above its predecessor.

 

World War Z, Revisited

After being less than impressed with the first episode of Z Nation, I felt I should follow through with taking a peek at the 2D unrated cut of World War Z.  I figured it couldn’t give me much more of a headache than the 3D theatrical cut did.

Surprise #1: storywise, the unrated cut is not significantly different than the theatrical cut.  There are no major subplots added.  Somewhat disappointing, but some subtle scene extensions helped the story make a little more sense.  A litte.

Surprise #2: although the unrated cut is more violent and bloodier than the theatrical cut, it’s not a total all-out gorefest.  Some horror releases will use the “unrated cut” excuse to amp up splattering to the Nth degree.  That didn’t happen here.  Somewhat disappointing, in that I was expecting a LOT more gore, but on the other hand it was also somewhat of a relief.

Surprise #3: the film actually held my attention and my interest, in spite of the fact that I knew what was going to happen.  Part of that was because I was watching to see what was different between the two cuts, but even so it ended up engaging me more than I expected.

It’s still a crap film overall.  It’s even worse when you consider it an adaptation of its source material.  But in spite of my geeky love for 3D, if I ever had to sit someone down and force them to watch this, I would force them to watch the 2D unrated cut.

Is that an endorsement?  No.  As I said, it’s still a crap film.  And I am still hoping that the original pre-reshoot cut will surface someday.

 

Z Nation

I’ve said it before several times – I’m a sucker for a zombie apocalypse.  Considering that Z Nation is a SyFy original produced by The Asylum, I had extremely low expectations for it.  But I can also watch Harold Perrineau in almost anything.  So when I hear Augustus Hill is leading a group of survivors cross-country in a mashup of The Last Of Us and The Walking Dead, I’m obligated to check it out.

But, as you can see by the length of this post, there are problems.

If your story starts two years after the beginning of the zombie apocalypse, why have the opening narration say it is has been three years?  Yes, we do eventually jump “one year later” to tell the rest of the story three years after the first infection, but within 15 seconds of the narrator saying “three years after the first infection” we see a caption identifying the date as “May 5th 02 A.Z.”  Why run the risk of confusing your dim-witted audience whilst you’re still in the process of introducing your audience to the world you’ve built?

If these special forces guys really have been dealing with this situation for two years already, don’t you think they would’ve modified their behavior?  If you know you can only drop your enemy with shots to the head, why blindly shoot at them with bursts as you’re running away from them?

“This gate won’t hold” – okay, if that’s the case, shouldn’t mister “hold them as long as you can” start picking the zombies off with single shots to the head to try and slow them down?  This one poor guy is left standing there and he continues to just stand there.  And it’s not because he’s short on ammo – as they show the gate start to fail, they also show him holding at least two extra clips for his assault rifle.

Why exactly does Camp Northern Light need to shut down and bug out?  The way they were acting when they told Cruller to shut down and evac, it seemed like the camp was on the verge of being overrun by zombies.  But that’s not the case – later on we still see it active and we still see Cruller there, so if it is secure enough for one man to run it on his own for a year, why where they so hot to trot to bug out?  And why does the evac plane crash right after takeoff?  Bad writing, as Jonathan Frakes would say.

Now … after an entire year (the aforementioned “one year later” jump), they’ve only made it as far as upstate New York?!?  WTF, is that even in the direction of California?  Actually, this is somewhat due to another potential captioning issue bundled up alongside dim-witted audience geographical knowledge.  I had to jump online and look up the location of the Portsmouth Naval Prison.  Silly me, I figured a naval facility that is THAT important (our last best hope for researching possible zombie plague vaccines) would be in the DC/Arlington/Baltimore area.  Nope, Portsmouth Naval Prison is in Maine, which makes a bit more sense.  And I’m guessing Ellie … er, Murphy … would’ve needed some time to heal up before he could travel, so that makes a bit more sense.  But even so, an entire year and they’ve only made it as far as upstate New York?  That’s what, about 200 miles maybe?

“How’d you find out about this place?”  “An ex-cop and some others taking shelter in a prison 20 clicks up the road.”  NICE!

“Well, if we keep it moving we can get (to the Tappen Zee bridge) and back before nightfall.”  Curiosity overwhelms me again and I’m back on Google Maps.  Up until this point, they don’t say exactly where they are in upstate New York.  But the Portsmouth Naval Prison is in Kittery, Maine.  For the sake of argument, let’s just put them smack dab in the middle of upstate New York.  That puts them vaguely as far away from the Tappen Zee bridge as they are from Kittery.  So it took these two guys one year and the lives of “eight of the best men I’ve ever served with” to get that far, and now two ex-National Guard are proposing to take them an equivalent distance and get back before nightfall.  And Augustus Hill doesn’t even seem surprised?  Bad writing.

I do like them showing an aspect of a barter economy, with the guys offering to trade for weapons and ammo that they’ve produced.  And there’s a nice one-line exposition about the zombies themselves – apparently the fresher they are, the faster they are.

“I was thinking something more silent” – another nice touch.  We have at least one character who has actually learned something in the three years since the zombie apocalypse started.  But it’s a damned shame I have no idea what her name is.

Here’s where my head starts to hurt … the pickup truck has been on the road for a while, long enough for them to check in with Camp Blue Sky by radio.  And they hear that there’s a problem with the camp, because that other group of three people is close enough to the camp to watch it explode.  The two ex-Guards want to go all the way back to the camp to help, but Augustus Hill won’t let them.  So now we’re following the other group of three as they’re running from a zombie horde and all of a sudden <POOF!> the pickup truck is magically there to save them.  WTF?!?  Because it is convenient to the plot.  In other words, bad writing.

“How long you in this cage for?”  “Two days.”  Really?  You don’t look like it.  You don’t act like it either.  Ever spent two days completely exposed to the elements with no water source?  I doubt you can and still come out looking and acting as healthy as she does.  And what’s her name?  As a matter of fact, what’s anybody’s name?

Finally, after we get her inside, Augustus Hill is the only one thinks to offer her water.  And she takes a moment before she grabs it from him and gulps it down.  Nope.  I would expect her to be practically begging for water as soon as she realized she was free of the zombies.

Okay, so now it sounds like we’re in a The Walking Dead situation here, where you don’t need to have been bitten by a zombie in order to become one after you die.  Does that baby look like it’s near death to you?  Nope, thought not.  Then why does it suddenly up and die?  Because it is convenient to the plot.  In other words, bad writing.  But … waitaminute … going back to the opening narration … “three years after the first infection” … implies that you’ve identified the first infection and patient zero and all that … but I’m going to set that point aside because the more I think about it, the more my head is hurting.

Just thought of something else – if we assume all this happened two days ago … and our baby has been sitting in a carseat for two whole days … and our beloved main characters KNOW that … why aren’t they offering the kid water?  Why aren’t they digging through the car looking for formula for the kid?  No wonder he died – they killed him through their own neglect!

“What about the baby … thing?  We can’t leave it like that.”  Yes.  Yes, you can.  Sigh.  Lt. Augustus Hill, up until this point in the episode, your mission (getting Murphy to California) has been your NUMBER ONE PRIORITY and EVERYTHING ELSE has been secondary.  That is how you have behaved up until this point.  Zombies were identified as being 200 yards away.  Zombies got into the building where our Rick Grimes lookalike beat them all with his hammer.  The baby is confined inside the building and is not a direct threat to anyone, especially Murphy.  If hotpants chickadee really did lock herself into that cage two days ago, then any surviving members of the group you were supposed to meet up with would not have gotten all that far away, especially if they were on foot.  So in the process of checking this facility out, they scrounged for food, weapons and vehicles.  Why didn’t anyone look for radio equipment to try to contact any surviving forces?!?  And why for the love of George Romero would you bother going in to whack that baby zombie WHEN IT IS COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT TO THE ORDERS THAT YOU HAVE EMBRACED?  Bad bad bad writing.

Oh great.  He does end up going in there and what happens?  The baby zombie is now playing hide and seek with him.  WHY?!?  ALL of the other zombies we have seen thus far have immediately launched themselves towards living humans as soon as they saw the living humans.  Why does this specific zombie act differently?  Because it is convenient to the plot.  In other words, bad writing.  The creators of the show wanted to pull a Suzie Costello here, pretending he’s part of the cast only to have a “shocking” death right in the first episode.  No.  Not shocking, stoopid.  1) By going in after the baby zombie, he’s acting completely out of character because taking out the baby zombie has nothing to do with his mission.  2) Considering how long he has survived (three years) dealing with zombies, he should know how they behave.  He shouldn’t have to wander through the building, he should only need to stand in the open area and make noises until the zombie baby comes running to him wanting to eat him.  Does that happen?  No.  Bad fucking writing.

“If we wanted to ditch these two, take the truck and run, now would be the time.  Just sayin’.”  NICE!  This older guy has rapidly become my favorite character.  Shame I don’t know his name.

Is the chickadee zombie who jumps Augustus Hill supposed to be the driver of the car?  The one that was already identified as “looks like she took a blow to the skull, brain dead on impact?”  It seems like that’s the only place she could’ve come from given the way that scene played out, and it also seems like she’s wearing the same shirt that the driver was wearing.  If that’s the case, why does that particular zombie wait that long before finally going after someone?  Because it is convenient to the plot.  In other words, bad writing.  And how does she actually get out of the car?  Rewinding that scene, the windshield is intact and the driver & passenger side doors look like they’d be pinned shut due to the way the car is jammed into the side of the building.  And … waitaminute … the headlights are on?!?  If all this mess actually did happen two days ago, I would expect that car’s battery to be dead by now if the headlights were on when it crashed.  Damn, this has given me a headache.

When the others finally come in to see what the commotion is (don’t you think they would’ve heard him yelling and opened the door a minute or two earlier?), why does everyone open fire?  After living in this environment for three years, you would think they would’ve trained themselves to save ammo.  Three shots is all they needed to fire.  Not an entire Rorke’s Drift style volley.

“You know, none of this would’ve happened if you’d just left that damned baby.”  Bravo!  Well said.  I’m starting to like Murphy almost as much as the old guy.  It’s good to have a character that says what I’m thinking.  And at least I know his name.

“How does anyone know anything anymore?”  And on a bad writing cue, Augustus Hill’s radio immediately fires up.  Which again begs the question, why didn’t anyone try contacting anyone on radio equipment?  Or even talk about looking for radio equipment?  Which leads to a follow up question: his radio is charged, or at least somewhat charged – they imply the battery is drained but it could potentially be something else interfering with Cruller’s transmission – but in this day and age, how was he keeping it charged?  Likewise with his li’l GPS thingy.  I doubt military equipment is going to run on commercial batteries.  So how has he been able to keep them charged during his year-long 200 mile trip?

Finally, Cruller sets himself up as “Citizen Z,” broadcasting across everything that he can broadcast across.  I think that’s actually a pretty cool aspect to the show … but why in tarnation did it take him a year before he thought to set that up?  And he’s damned lucky that his facility is easy enough to run that he can do it all on his own.  Again, I have to ask, if it is that maintenance free and that secure, why did the rest of the base feel it necessary to totally bug out in the opening minutes?  Because it was convenient to the plot.  In other words, bad writing.

As you can see, I’ve got a lot of mixed feelings here.  Based on the pilot alone, this show looks like it has a fair amount of potential.  My biggest problem with it is the wasted potential, and this first episode wastes more potential than it shows.  Let’s amp up the quality of the writing a bit, and I’m pleased to see John Hyams is staying on to direct more episodes.

 

World War Z

Oh dear God …..

Okay, I went into this film with low expectations … I loved the original novel, so I waited long enough that I could barely remember the novel.  I also understand that films are not novels, so I should not necessarily expect the same exact story as portrayed in the novel.  As a matter of fact, there are a few films that I thought were better than the novels that they were originally based on – three that immediately come to mind are Jaws, Christine and From Russia With Love.

So I knew that I should not expect the same story as the novel … and I heard that if this film had not been titled after the novel that the audience reaction would have been more accepting … and I also heard that, for people who were not familiar with the novel or could set the novel aside, it was actually a pretty good zombie flick.

NO!  It fucking sucks!

I had the same problem with this as I did for series 4 of The Walking Dead – I was rooting for the zombies!  And for any zombie apocalypse narrative, that’s a very big problem.  I had absolutely no empathy or sympathy for Brad Pitt’s character at all.  The film actually jumped around too much (in spite of the jumpy source material) and some aspects of the story made no sense whatsoever.  And the 3D effects were horrible – more often than not, I was wondering whether or not I was actually watching a 3D film.  And the ultimate resolution in the film?  Ridiculous and ludicrous.

On one hand, I want to sit down and really dissect all of the problems with this film, but on the other hand I have better things to do.  (Like catching up on a backlog of other reviews that I need to rant about.)

I will give it this much:  1) It was a pleasure to see Peter Capaldi as a WHO doctor before he took over the title role of Doctor Who.  2) I would actually love to see the original cut of the film, before they went back and did some reportedly significant reshoots.  Hopefully that will come out at some point.  But then again, I’m still waiting for the director’s cut of Hard Target, too.  3) I am going to go back and watch the non-3D unrated cut of this at some point.  If I feel that version of this film offers any level of redemption, I’ll be sure to update this entry accordingly.

 

The Zombie Autopsies: Secret Notebooks From The Apocalypse

If only these notebooks had stayed secret.  Then I wouldn’t feel compelled to complain about them.

This book is, succinctly, crap.

Yes, I’m a fast reader.  Yes, I’m a sucker for the zombie genre.  Yes, I’m a sucker for the first-person “found documents” genre.  Yes, I’ve been known to burn my way through books, damn the torpedoes full speed ahead, when they thoroughly engage me.

In spite of that, there is no way I should’ve been able to finish reading this entire book in under two hours.  But I did.  (And the shocked look on my daughter’s face was almost worth it.)

Why?  Because this book did not deserve me wasting any more of my life reading it.  And, much like The Rising & City Of The Dead, I kept hoping that it would get better and eventually live up to some of the online reviews.  Nope.  No such luck.

My major problem #1: this reads like a draft of someone’s first novel.  Not their first novel.  A draft.  Not even a rough draft.  There are one or two intriguing ideas buried in here, but they’re all execrebly executed.  Lo & behold, I discover it is the author’s first novel.  No surprise there.  Dr. Schlozman, you need a much better editor.

My major problem #2: The author, Steven C. Schlozman, has a medical degree.  The majority of the novel is written in the first person, by a character who has a medical degree.  But at no point in any of this did I ever believe I was reading anything written by a doctor.  My sister has an MD.  I’ve spent good chunk of my adult life hanging out with doctors, reading medical texts and medical research papers.  The quality of the writing in The Zombie Autopsies came across to me as what I would expect from someone who decided to drop out of college after one or two years in order to try making it rich writing zombie stories.  It certainly did not feel as if it was the first-person journal of an MD/PhD who works for the CDC, trying to document EVERYTHING for the next batch of poor bastards that find their way into this death trap.  Hell, the supposed CDC doctor in The Walking Dead series was far more believable to me than anything presented here.

Color me not impressed, but very thankful once again that I can get drivel like this for free out of my library so I don’t have to waste any money (only time) reading it.

Dr. Schlozman, please go back to teaching psychiatry.  I’m sure you’re far better at that.