Arriving for its belated victory lap nearly ten years after the release of Zombieland, this sequel, Zombieland: Double Tap, is fairly entertaining, but feels about as stale as the truckload of decade-old Twinkies the heroes find during their journeys here. The principal cast, including Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin, returns, and is joined by Luke Wilson and Rosario Dawson. Our four heroes have been moving about the country looking for a permanent home, and ultimately reach a crossroads with each other as permanent cabin fever sets in. Ruben Fleischer returns to direct, and Double Tap adds a newly evolved, more dangerous zombie into the mix, as well as an airheaded, blonde distraction for Eisenberg's character who ends up earning many of the film's laughs.
I missed this sequel in theaters, but I did view this Blu-ray on the heels of revisiting the original on its recent 4K Ultra HD release. Both films have a very similar structure, which makes this sequel's lack of fresh ideas all the more apparent. Tallahassee (Harrelson), Columbus (Eisenberg), Wichita (Stone) and Little Rock (Breslin) have taken up residence at the White House and amassed a considerable arsenal. Little Rock laments the lack of company her own age, and Wichita fumbles when Columbus proposes using the Hope Diamond. The women unexpectedly set out on their own for greener pastures, so the guys venture into the unknown, too, and stumble upon Madison (Zoey Deutch), a ditzy blonde who has survived in a frozen yogurt store's walk-in fridge for years. She sleeps with Columbus, who decides to live a little since Wichita left him, after all. A new super-zombie, nicknamed the "T-800" of Terminator fame, that is difficult to kill becomes an imminent threat, and Wichita returns to seek help from the guys in finding Little Rock, who has run off with a hippie from Berkeley (Avan Jogia).
The Madison character could easily have become over-the-top annoying, but the back-and-forth between she and Columbus and the shade thrown her way by Wichita are hilarious. I will not dive into spoilers, but her character arc is quite unexpected, too. In an extended joke, Madison proposes a ride-sharing service like Uber to her companions, who rip the idea to shreds, deeming it a surefire way to get murdered. It is these playful jabs at the alternate Zombieland, technology-stalled universe that I wish the film had more of. Dawson and Wilson pop up at a hotel near Graceland, and, in another amusing bit, Wilson's Albuquerque and partner Flagstaff (Thomas Middleditch) mirror Tallahassee and Columbus in appearance and personality. Dawson's Nevada becomes a love interest for Tallahassee and assists the crew in locating Little Rock at a pacifist living compound dubbed Babylon (for the James Gray song, LOL). So yeah, Double Tap has some amusing moments, but those looking for a dynamic plot and something beyond a reunion of friends may be disappointed.
Fleischer returns to old jokes too often. We get it, Columbus keeps a list of survival rules. The zombie kills are not particularly memorable either, but Zombieland was never really about the carnage. The principal cast again plays well together, and it is obvious they enjoyed returning to the roles. The film does little to develop these characters and their relationships and could have easily been set and made in the weeks after the original. I was hoping Zombieland: Double Tap would raise the stakes, up the danger and expand the humor. It does not really do that, and instead finds a comfortable, familiar groove and coasts. Fans of the first will want to give this one a spin, but I am not sure how much replay value Double Tap has.
Sony provides a strong 2.39:1/1080p/AVC-encoded image for the film that benefits from a healthy bitrate and good encode. Those looking for fine-object detail, texture and HD pop will be pleased, as this digitally sourced image is crisp, clean and highly detailed. Colors are nicely saturated and bold, particularly some of Babylon's colorful scenery and Madison's all-pink attire. Black levels are good, though I noticed some minor digital noise in dimly lit scenes. Contrast and skin tones are appropriate, and the image looks good in motion. Close-ups reveal abundant facial details and object texture, and wide shots remain crisp and clean throughout.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is immersive, with frequent effects panning and subwoofer action. Dialogue is clean and clear and is balanced appropriately with effects and score. The popular-music selections are weighty and sound natural, and ambient effects make use of the entire sound field. Action effects, like gunfire, explosions and zombie mayhem, are loud and immersive, but I never noticed issues with element crowding or distortion. French, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai 5.1 mixes are included, as are a host of subtitle options.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
This two-disc set comes with the Blu-ray, a DVD and a digital copy. The discs are packed in a standard case that is wrapped in a non-embossed slipcover. Extras include an Audio Commentary by Director Ruben Fleischer; Extended Bloopers and Outtakes (4:52/HD); Deleted Scenes (12:42/HD); The Doppelgangers (7:02/HD), about Middleditch and Wilson's characters; A Day with Bill Murray (3:11/HD) (and who doesn't love Murray?); The Rides of Zombieland (4:14/HD), about the vehicles; Making Babylon (5:04/HD); New Blood (4:51/HD); Single Take Doppelganger Fight (2:18/HD); Zombieland Ad Council; and bonus previews.
It took a decade for Zombieland: Double Tap to revive its predecessor, but the results are underwhelming and overly familiar. While it is nice to join Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin in their zombie-fighting quests again, Ruben Fleischer's Zombieland: Double Tap is little more than a victory lap for the original and lacks fresh ideas. Rent It.