The Batman (2022)

It’s been a while since I highly anticipated a DC movie from Warner Bros. Yes, I’m one of those people. I’m one of the people who enjoyed Zack Snyder’s vision of the DC Extended Universe. Man of Steel is my favorite version of the Superman story. Henry Cavill and Amy Adams are my favorite Lois and Clark. Wonder Woman’s introduction into the DCEU was executed by Snyder, and we all saw what could happen to Wonder Woman when Patty Jenkins is left to her own devices. Likewise, Aquaman’s initial outing was engaging under Snyder’s leadership and, while I don’t think it’s worthy of an Oscar, Zack Snyder’s Justice League was superior over the Joss Whedon version. Let’s not forget what Todd Philips did with Joker when he was left alone by the studio.

Oscar award-winning director Ben Affleck initially was going to write and direct The Batman but, for whatever reason, dropped the assignment and the role. Enter a director (and a composer) from the J.J. Abrams Bad Robot tree, and, ordinarily, I wouldn’t be excited about who took over the assignment. Matt Reeves (and Michael Giacchino) are no ordinary descendants from the Abrams tree. Reeves directed Cloverfield, America’s own kaiju (and Giacchino wrote the score, which only consisted of the end credits sequence). Reeves also directed the reboot trilogy of Planet of the Apes Giacchino scored the final two films.

So, Reeves and Giacchino have outstanding credits to stand on independent of Abrams, and they can add a solid outing in The Batman to add to their accomplishments. If you’re wondering why I have mentioned Giacchino almost every time I say, Reeves, the score added powerful impact to the words directed and co-written by Reeves, with Peter Craig credited as the other screenwriter.

When people talk about the DCEU, they emphasize the Extended Universe portion of that initialism. It’s important to remember that DC stands for Detective Comics, the publication which introduced Batman in issue #27, dated May 1939. Reeves hasn’t forgotten. He has given us a neo-noir detective story from beginning to end. Whereas many previous directors have given us dark and moody stylings of Gotham City, Reeves and his design team have given us a Gotham that’s an amalgam of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, and several other cities. At times the film reflects the daytime essence of those cities yet still maintains the dark and moody atmosphere in which Batman and Jim Gordon are destined to operate.

Some trepidation was raised about Robert Pattison playing Batman. I don’t write spoilers, but I will say this. Pattison is Batman… just Batman. There’s a reason why the word Batman is so outsized in the credits and marketing materials. The former Twilight star plays the role well. Andy Serkis is Bruce Wayne’s faithful butler Alfred Pennyworth. Zoe Kravitz gives a wonderful performance as Selina Kyle, a/k/a Catwoman. However, throughout this movie, Batman’s loyal partner is Lt. Jim Gordon, played marvelously by Jeffrey Wright. 

Gotham City is plagued by a series of high-profile killings beginning with its mayor. Over the objections of some policemen and the police commissioner, Gordon brings Batman into the investigation from the very beginning. Several elements of the Batman ethos are just presented as fact. So, no unnecessary explanations of the BatSignal or why Batman and Gordon are so close. It’s a fait accompli. It is what it is, and I was fine with that.

The story presented by Reeves and Craig is populated with a couple of familiar characters from the Batman mythos. The Riddler and the Penguin are in evidence, played by Paul Dano and Colin Farrell, respectively. There are several other baddies to populate the story. Peter Sarsgaard plays DA Gil Colson and who doesn’t love a performance from John Turturro, who plays Carmine Falcone, a gangster I learned about from Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy.

Reeves’ The Batman does not suffer from comparisons to Nolan’s trilogy. I am eagerly looking forward to Reeves’ next installment. So, why does this movie get an 8 instead of a 10?

Too much plot. There’s a lot of plot in this movie. A lot is going on and a lot that you’ll have to keep track of during its near-three-hour running time. Don’t worry. I don’t think you’ll be looking at your watch too much because a lot is happening, and you’ll have to pay attention because Reeves doesn’t necessarily explain things upfront in a fashion where you’ll understand what is going on. However, eventually, it will all come together for you.

There’s an interesting twist on the Batman origin story, such as it is. I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

The Batman is rated PG-13 for strong violent and disturbing content, drug content, strong language, and some suggestive material. It is a solid, very powerful movie that you will want to watch multiple times. It is playing in IMAX 2D is available only in theatres right now.

Trailer

The Matrix Resurrections

The last time I saw a movie that made me feel like this was Space Jam: A New Legacy, also from Warner Brothers. In that one, it was like a whole bunch of Warner Brothers executives got in a room with LeBron James’ people and decided to make a movie filled with WB IP, James, and little else. This time around, Lana Wachowski, one of the co-creators of the franchise, decided to forgo the partnership with her sister and “resurrect” it with this movie without a clear idea of what should be done.

As the movie opens, we are treated to almost an exact re-creation of the opening scene from The Matrix (1999), but rather than use footage from that film, Wachowski re-creates the scene with look-a-like actors. We’re introduced to “hold onto your butts,” “Bugs,” as in “Bunny” to quote the character. Bugs is a human captain who, with her operator Seq (short for Sequoia), observes the re-creation. Eventually, Bugs and Seq realize that what they are watching is not what happened to Trinity in the original, and we’re off to the races.

Though Wachowski didn’t use archival footage in that scene, there is liberal use of scenes and intercuts from all three Matrix films as she and co-writers David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon try to lay a foundation for this film. However, it never really quite works. Much of it is a retread of the previous films. The writers have gotten rid of many of the devices from the earlier films.  As one character noted, “you don’t have to get to a phone anymore.” So, we’re left with setups for fight scenes, followed by the fights, and let’s keep it moving.

Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss return.  Reeves appears as Thomas Anderson, a programmer who wrote “The Matrix” as a series of three video games and, yes, the movies of the trilogy were actually video games. Moss is Tiffany, a somewhat modern-day Mom, with a husband, Chad, and two kids. Tom and Tiffany meet at a coffee house named —wait for it— Simulatte and discuss how much Tom based the character Neo on himself and how much Tiffany looks like Trinity.

I don’t know if they were asked, but Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving had the common sense not to re-up for this film. Instead, we get Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Morpheus and Jonathan Groff as Anderson’s business partner named Smith. Their performances are serviceable, but kudos to Neil Patrick Harris, who appears as The Analyst, who we learned has rebooted The Matrix after inheriting the duty from The Architect.

Frankly, it’s all very meta and derivative, unimaginative, and vacuous. With all the advances in filmmaking since 1999, I don’t understand how the original film’s effects are better than the effects in this film.

I can’t recommend spending $21 a ticket to view this film in IMAX; however, if you have two and a half hours and HBO Max, it’s probably worth your time. The three original films are currently streaming on Hulu; so, you can get the whole Matrix experience in your own home and reduce your exposure to Omicron if you happened to have dodged it from going to see Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Trailer

Spider-Man: No Way Home

Forgive me if I take this out on Peter Parker, but Spider-Man: No Way Home suffers from many of the problems of modern intellectual property; that is that it’s not really modern at all. If I were scoring the film just based on my enjoyment, it would receive a 6 out of 10. If you saw the graphic above, you’ll know that I rated it 8 out of 10. I’ll explain why before you read to the end.

Much of modern intellectual property survives on two fundamental and related things. One has been going on for quite a while now. That’s the repurposing of script elements that we’ve seen in either prior films in a series or story devices that we’ve seen in other movies. So, for example, (using a scene we saw in the trailers,) when MJ falls off the scaffolding, that’s similar to things we saw in the 80’s Spider-Man films and the 90’s Amazing Spider-Man films.

The second thing is fan service.  Sometimes, fan service is desirable when used, for example, in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, which essentially were clip films without using clips. They used script elements that essentially recapped the previous 20 films without showing clips but building scenes based on what we saw in those films.

My problem with Spider-Man: No Way Home is that it is essentially a film that combined major story elements revealed in trailers with others recycled from previous Spider-films. It is a movie that Spider-fans figured out on social media. There wasn’t a single story element that took me by surprise. This is from a person who avoided social media about the film from the premiere until I saw it this morning. So, did I find it satisfying? No.

Increasingly, modern storytelling is dependent on familiar content and fan service. This has given fandom a sense of entitlement where if what they want to see in a film is omitted, then the film has no value, and there’s no impetus to see it.

Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers wrote the script for all three MCU Spider-Man films (as well as Ant-Man and the Wasp). Jon Watts directed all three as well and will be directing the upcoming Fantastic Four MCU introduction. Watts and photographer Mauro Fiore did an outstanding job with the material given. The writers attempted to generate pathos and, judging by the reaction of the audience I viewed the film with, they were apparently successful. However, I feel McKenna and Sommers have kind of written themselves into a box and I can’t wait to see how Feige and company get themselves out of it.

Tom Holland returns as Peter Parker and Spider-Man, as does the cast of the previous Spider-Man MCU movies. Every villain from the earlier Spider-films appears in this movie, played, with one exception, by all the same actors. So, it’s an all-star cast that’s we see on the screen throughout the film.

There’s not a lot I can say about the plot without spoiling it.
However, I can say that you’ve seen it all before in one form or another.

There is a mid-credits scene and a post-credits scene affecting both Sony’s Spider-Verse and the Marvel Cinematic University.  Next up is another film from Sony. Morbius premieres in January.

Trailer

West Side Story (2021)

I have a running joke about Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story with a cyber friend of mine. It seems he, my friend, was looking forward to it. I wasn’t necessarily. I kept reminding my friend that Steven Spielberg produced CATS.  That musical, released around this same time of year, was awful, just awful.

Fortunately, Mr. Spielberg didn’t just produce this modern West Side Story. He also directed it. I can give you my overall opinion before you read any further.  It’s better than CATS.

It has always been thought that Mr. Spielberg had a knack for directing musicals.  Our first inkling was the ballroom dance sequence in 1979’s 1941. The director staged a kinetic dance number and a fictional re-creation of the Zoot Suit riots.  The second clue was the opening sequence of 1984’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, a scene-setter for that movie.

However, for his first full-fledged musical, Mr. Spielberg decided to mount a brand new production of Jerome Robbins’ original Broadway play dealing with a modern version of the Romeo and Juliet story. Unlike the 1961 version directed by Robbins and Robert Wise, Spielberg gives his story some context, providing this writer with the grounding the story needed.

Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner, who previously collaborated with the director on Munich and Lincoln, set the film in the mid to late 1950s.  The area where the future Lincoln Center would be built was being razed, and inhabitants were being moved out. The neighborhood was once heavily Irish and Polish. Still, as the film opens, the area has become primarily Hispanic and, specifically, Puerto Rican. We come to learn that there’s a battle for turf between the Jets, who are white, and the Sharks, who are Puerto Rican.

Using the music of Leonard Bernstein, the lyrics of Stephen Sondheim, and the choreography of Justin Peck, Spielberg introduces the Jets and the Sharks to his audience in a much more believable fashion than did Wise and Robbins. You understand right away why these two gangs are fighting a futile battle both are destined to lose.

Ansel Elgort plays Tony, a former co-founder of the Jets who now works in a drug store after a year in prison for a previous gang fight.  Tony professes that he wants no more of the gang life and is content with working for Valentina (Rita Moreno), the Hispanic owner of the drug store. The other founder of the Jets is Riff (Mike Faist), the current leader. The Jets are feuding with the Sharks, whose leader is boxer Bernardo Vasquez (David Alvarez). Unlike the 1961 film, the Sharks don’t appear to be outnumbered by the Jets, and when the Jets violate the Sharks’ turf, a rumble ensues only to be broken up by Lt. Schrank (Corey Stoll) and Officer Krupke (Brian D’Arcy James).  Later that night, there’s a community dance. Bernardo warns his sister, Maria (Rachel Zegler), that he’ll be vigilant about any gringos who want to dance with her.

Still, I guess you can’t have everything. The musical and dance set pieces all work for me. However, the characterization of the dance organizer in this film doesn’t stand up to the characterization of John Astin in the 1961 film. Maria’s date for the dance, Chino (Josh Andrés Rivera), is played a little differently in this film. It was better but still left something to be desired.

I get it. These stories, both in 1961 and 2021, are dance musicals; so, there’s a suspension of belief necessary to follow the story. I viewed the 1961 film before viewing the Spielberg film. I found it anachronistic and, frankly, a little bit silly. In this respect, Spielberg’s film is much, much better. Spielberg’s film makes the love affair of Tony and Maria a tad more believable than the 1961 film. Yet, I still find the romance, taking place over two days, somewhat far-fetched, although admittedly possible.

Bottom line: Spielberg brings dramatic tension to a story that is not wholly reliant on music and dance, and I found the story much more believable than the 1961 film. Rated PG-13 for some strong violence, strong language, thematic content, suggestive material, and brief smoking, you should enjoy Mr. Spielberg’s official entry into the genre if you like dance musicals.

Trailer

21 Bridges

I first planned to see this movie in July when it was first scheduled. For whatever reason, STX, the distributor, decided to postpone its release until September. Later, they postponed it again to this weekend against movies like Frozen II and It’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. So, despite my excitement at wanting to see a crime flick headlined and co-produced by the star of Black Panther, Chadwick Bozeman, my expectations fell to a low.

Bozeman is André Davis, the son of a decorated NYPD police officer killed in the line of duty. 19 years after his father’s death, Davis is under investigation by Internal Affairs because he’s been involved in a lot of officer-involved shootings.

One night, two dudes raid a drug gang’s cache at a restaurant in Brooklyn. However, instead of finding 30 kilos of cocaine, they find 300. They decide to take 50, but before they can get away, four policemen show up at the door to the restaurant. One of the dudes, Ray Jackson (Taylor Kitsch), rather aggressively takes out of the four cops, but backup arrives, and Jackson takes them out as well. Jackson and his partner, Michael Trujillo (Stephan James), leave Brooklyn and head over to Manhattan to meet up with their contact.

Meanwhile, back in Brooklyn, precinct captain McKenna (J.K. Simmons) drafts Davis to find and dispatch Jackson and Trujillo with extreme prejudice to spare, as we saw in the trailer, the policemen’s families the trauma of “trials, appeals and parole hearings.“ It would seem that someone like Davis with his reputation would be the perfect judge, jury, and executioner.

The FBI tries to take over the case, but Davis and McKenna convince them to give Davis until morning to find the shooters. Davis has a plan: shut down all transportation in and out of Manhattan. He also has lots of questions: questions about why things went down the way they did.  So, he and a narcotics detective, Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller), set out to find the two shooters before dawn breaks.

Director Brian Kirk revs up the tension from the moment the drug heist begins, and he doesn’t let go until the movie ends.  That’s not easy to do when he’s directing from the script by Adam Mervis and Matthew Michael Carnahan. Not that the script is weak, but it’s somewhat predictable. However, Kirk has some advantages from the score by Henry Jackman and Alex Belcher and the stellar cast headed up by Boseman, Simmons, Miller, Kitsch, and James.  There are some other recognizable faces including Keith David and Alexander Siddig. The cinematography by Paul Cameron is excellent, not burdened with a lot of CGI, and there’s a stellar performance by the city of Philadelphia as Manhattan.

This is one of the first productions from Joe and Anthony Russo’s AGBO Films; they brought the script to Boseman, who also produced the movie along with his partner, Logan Coles and others.

Unfortunately, this film opened against Frozen II and It’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, but hopefully, you’ll head back to the theatre and take in 21 Bridges. It’s a welcome treat for adults.

Trailer:

Dora and the Lost City of Gold

Perhaps this would be better if your kids reviewed this movie, but for some unknown reason, I was intrigued when I first saw the film on the release schedule. Unable to catch it when it was first released, it’s now on home video; so I’ve given it a viewing.

Based on the children’s educational series, Dora The Explorer, this movie isn’t afraid to be self-aware. Very early on, Dora (Isabela Moner) brakes the fourth wall and addresses the audience a couple of times to the bewilderment of her father Cole (Michael Peña) and his wife Elena (Eva Longoria).  They are explorers who have been living in the jungles of Peru with Dora. Cole and Elena figure out the location of Parapata, the lost Incan city of gold and decide to set off to find it.  However,they also choose to send Dora to Los Angeles to live with her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg) and his parents, who left Peru ten years earlier.

The film plays with Dora exploring life in “the city,” which she is thoroughly unfamiliar with, and she continually embarrasses Diego with her unfamiliarity. Dora doesn’t understand because she and Diego were quite close when he lived in Peru, but Diego has grown quite accustomed to life in the city, and he’s less than enthused in guiding his cousin through the process of acclimation.

Dora and her classmates go on a field trip to a museum, and when she wanders off to explore some off-display exhibits in the museum basement, she, Diego and two other classmates are locked in a crate and shipped off to Peru by a group of mercenaries.  These mercenaries plan to use Dora to find her parents and convince them to find the lost city of Parapata.

It’s all somewhat goofy and transparent, but kids will probably enjoy it.

Trailer:

The Peanut Butter Falcon

Zack Gottsagen is Zak, a young man with no family and Down’s Syndrome, who has been placed in a retirement home because there is no other facility to place him in. Zak spends his days watching a videotape purporting to teach one wrestling. Zak also spends a lot of time trying to escape from the retirement home.

Shia LaBoeuf is Tyler, a young man who appears to be a crab fisherman, but who we learn is actually stealing crab pots from a man, Duncan (John Hawkes), who took over fishing licenses held by Tyler’s brother (Jon Bernthal) who has recently died. Tyler clearly feels that Duncan “stole” the licenses from his family and, so, he is merely taking what belongs to him. Not that Tyler doesn’t know that what he’s doing is illegal because he’s spending his days ducking the authorities and Duncan.

Zak shares a room with Carl (Bruce Dern), who he’s driving crazy with his constant viewing of the wrestling tape; so Carl devises an escape plan for Zak to gain some peace.  Meanwhile, Duncan confronts Tyler over the stolen crab pots and threatens him if Tyler doesn’t stop. Tyler doesn’t take kindly to the threat and takes an action that propels Duncan to pursue him.

Tyler takes off in a boat in which Zak is hiding, and it sets up the journey that we are about to follow. While Duncan is pursuing Tyler, Zak is being pursued by Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), a volunteer at the nursing home who was supposed to be watching Zak and who had dubbed him a flight risk.

Tyler Nilson and Mike Schwartz, who wrote and directed The Peanut Butter Falcon, set up a scenario where the characters Tyler and Zak become traveling companions as Tyler tries to escape Duncan and head to Florida while Zak travels to the wrestling school advertised on his video, which is along the route Tyler plans to take.

My only problem is with the screenplay, which too often takes convenient short cuts to move the story along. However, there are delightful performances by LaBoeuf, Johnson, Hawkes and Gottsagen, who himself has Down’s Syndrome but turns in a dynamic performance as a man who single-mindedly sets out to accomplish his goal of becoming a wrestler. Add in a marvelous performance by Thomas Haden Church as The Salt Water Redneck, the wrestling guru Zak is determined to meet and be trained by.

All too often, society imposes their ideas of what a person is capable or incapable of doing, and this story does its best to implode those myths and give us a different perspective on people’s capabilities and our concepts of friendships and families. I’m a sucker for a story with heart, despite some weaknesses in the narrative.

Despite these minor misgivings, The Peanut Butter Falcon is one of the better films of 2019, and I definitely recommend you give it a chance. In limited release and now available on home video, it’s worth your time.

Trailer:

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

In real-time, 28 years have passed.  In movie time, it has been a couple of decades. A young Mexican couple are making out near a bridge when they notice sparks appearing in the deck of the bridge.  A large familiar sphere appears, and a nude female figure falls from the sphere to the ground.  When the couple goes to investigate, the police arrive and begin to question the couple about this semi-conscious nude female in their presence.  At that moment, the female (Mackenzie Davis) puts a hurting on la policia and takes the young Mexican dude’s clothes and makes her way to find Daniela Ramos.  Daniela lives with her brother Diego, an aspiring musician, and their father in Mexico City.  Daniela wakes Diego as he and she work in an auto plant; she doesn’t want to be late.  She also begs her father to make his doctor’s appointment.

After Daniela and Diego leave for work, sparks fly at their residence and who should turn up at their apartment but another terminator, a Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna) who quizzes their father on the whereabouts of Daniela.  Soon after, D&D’s father turns up at their work location because his kids forgot their lunch. Except Diego points out that Daniela brought their lunch.  Can you guess who Diego’s father is?

Of course, you can and that’s the problem with much of Terminator: Dark Fate. Much of what we see has either been revealed in the trailer, or it doesn’t take much thought to figure out what’s going on. The previously nude female has been sent to protect Daniela.  She battles the Rev-9 on the factory floor and she—identifying herself as Grace—, Daniela and Diego escape in a truck with the Rev-9 in hot pursuit. Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) shows up and we’re off on another Terminator adventure.

The balance of the story is a mishmash and rehash of ideas out of originator James Cameron and a committee of storytellers and screenwriters that defy credulity. Cameron and his cohorts have devised a scenario where what happened before didn’t really happen. It’s the old problem of dealing with time travel except this time, we don’t really deal with it.  We’re presented a story and expected to accept it, even though it’s banal and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Don’t blame any of this on the actors or the director.  The actors do a credible job with the story they’ve been given, and director Tim Miller has kept the action moving, perhaps in the hope that the script won’t catch up to him.

All-in-all, Terminator: Dark Fate is a disappointment.  The return of Schwarzenegger, Hamilton and Cameron held out so much promise, and only Arnold and Linda delivered. Here’s hoping that Cameron is saving his best material for those Avatar sequels he’s been threatening us with.

If you must see this film, wait for home video.

Trailer:

Jojo Rabbit (2019)

Roman Griffin Davis is Johannes Betzler, a ten-year-old boy who enthusiastically joins the Hitler Youth. “Jojo,” as his mother and second-best friend call him, dresses up in his uniform and talks to his best friend, an imaginary Adolf Hitler, played with delightful abandon by director, co-producer and co-screenwriter Taika Waititi. I’m most familiar, I’d imagine like most people, with Waititi’s work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I’m now destined to examine his entire body of work which, as it turns out, is rather quite extensive.

Along with his tangible best friend Yorki (Archie Yates), Jojo goes to a Hitler Youth training camp, run by Captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell) or rather “Captain K,” in an attempt to make him more accessible. During their training, Jojo is tasked with killing a rabbit in a scene that demonstrates the power of peer pressure and the concepts of nature versus nurture.  Jojo can’t bring himself to kill the rabbit. He ends up running into the forest to the taunts of the other campers who have now dubbed him “Jojo Rabbit.” While in the woods, Jojo imagines a conversation with Hitler which galvanizes him into grabbing a grenade from an instructor and throwing it against a tree with disastrous and unforeseen results.

Jojo is injured and while confined to his home, he discovers his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johanssen) has been hiding a young Jewish girl, Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie), in a secret room in their house. Jojo gives some thought to turning her in, but Elsa convinces him that it would have disastrous consequences for Jojo and his mother.  So, instead, Jojo decides to discover what makes Jews tick. Elsa feeds his paranoia, which makes for a delightful narrative.

Waititi has taken a difficult subject and turned it into a masterwork of drama, comedy, and just a tinge of horror. He turns in a delightful comedic performance as an imaginary Hitler while at the same time constructing a tale of a town about to be liberated seemingly against its wishes. The film is exceptionally photographed by Mihai Malaimare Jr., which, combined with the direction of Waititi, communicates feelings subtly and powerfully.

Scarlett Johanssen is marvelous as a mother who is trying to raise her son among the madness of a world at war, and Davis is good as the dutiful son of his parents and the Third Reich. Throughout the film, the relationship between Jojo and Elsa evokes curiosity and tenderness. Sam Rockwell continues to turn in nuanced performances as in this one where he is at times comic and, other times, compelling.

Jojo Rabbit is currently in limited release, and it was challenging to find a theatre where I could see it.  Fortunately, it opens in wider release on 8 November.  If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend you see it.

Trailer:

Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)

Some mild spoilers of the first film follow immediately.

I recently re-watched Zombieland (2009) and this movie basically picks up where that one left off except, as narrated by “Columbus,” some years later, presumably ten. The family of “Tallahassee” (Woody Harrelson), “Columbus” (Jesse Eisenberg), “Wichita” (Emma Stone) and “Little Rock” (Abigail Breslin) are still together after all these years. As the opening credits roll, they take up residence in the abandoned White House.

Columbus and Wichita are still paired off, and Tallahassee has taken a paternal interest in Little Rock, who has grown into a young woman and is now quite restless as a result. Little Rock’s annoyance at being treated like a “little girl” and a miscalculation by Columbus in his relationship with Wichita creates an event that propels the plot of the rest of the movie.

When our family leaves the White House and begins traveling again, they have to avoid a new breed of zombies, which Columbus names the T-800. These zombies are stronger, faster and more deadly than other zombies our troupe has encountered before. Incidentally, Columbus has classified the zombies they’ve come across into groups. So, now the zombie types have names to go along with Columbus’ rules.

The problem here is the way the script develops is somewhat redundant of the first film. Some very similar events happen; so if you’ve seen the first film, you might be getting a little bored as to how things progress. However, other events happen just new enough to keep you mildly interested.

While the script may be lacking, the performances are not. The characters are familiar, but the acting is fresh and delightful. There are also some new characters that we meet along the way, beginning with the daft blonde we saw in the trailer, Zoey Deutch as Madison, and an equally cliche free spirit named Berkeley (Avan Jogia).

The saving grace of the script is that it’s incredibly self-aware, and that brings enough humor to carry us through the entire film. This includes performances by “guest stars” (my phrase) Rosario Dawson, Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch.

If you’ve seen the first film, you’ll enjoy the second one. Although I’ve listed it as a prerequisite, it’s not absolutely necessary to view it before viewing Zombieland: Double Tap. There’s enough exposition in Columbus’ narration that you’ll be able to follow along just fine.

I found Zombieland: Double Tap to be mildly humorous, but other people in the audience were laughing out loud, and I can understand why. There’s a mid-credits scene you should stay for and a post-credits scene you can catch at home whenever you get around to watching it there.

Trailer:

Red Band Trailer: