Movie Review: Zombies (2018)

Release Date: 16 February 2018
Director:  Paul Hoen
Production Company: Princessa Productions, LTD

The Disney Channel heavily promoted this high school romantic comedy musical about zombies and cheerleaders, and it sounded so awe-sinine we felt compelled to watch it. The story begins 50 years after a zombie apocalypse when technology in a wristband helps prevent zombies from craving brains and basically live as ordinary people, albeit with green hair and pancake makeup. Despite this, there is still severs discrimination against zombies who are forced to live in a run down part of town behind a wall, wear government issued clothing, and have curfews.

Zed (Milo Manheim) is an idealistic zombie excited to be among the first group of zombies allowed to attend Seabrook High School where he hopes to play football. Addison (Meg Donnelly) is the daughter of the mayor and chief of police raised from childhood to compete for a spot on Seabrook High School’s illustrious cheer squad.  Zed and Addison meet, fall in love, and help bring the human and zombie communities together through big dance numbers.

The story is of course Romeo & Juliet by way of West Side Story (Addison and Zed sing a song called “Someday” which is an homage to “Somewhere” in West Side Story).  There are also influences from Teen Wolf (Zed uses his zombie strength to excel at football and gain popularity), and Addison’s story draws from Pleasantville and other movies about teenagers dealing with small town conformity. There are also true life influences such as the Jim Crow period in the United States, South African apartheid, and the present divide of Palestine and Israel.  However, you can’t go to far with those metaphors since the oppressed minorities in this movie were once brain-eating zombies.

Zombies is not a great movie, but it’s young actors are charming, some of the songs are good, the dance numbers are impressive, and it’s depiction of segregation and prejudice may be a good introduction for young audiences.

Rating: **1/2


Book Review: Frozen: The Cinestory by Robert Simpson

Author: Robert Simpson
TitleFrozen: The Cinestory
Publication Info: Joe Books Inc. (2014)

I read this adaptation of the Disney musical Frozen with my daughter over the course of several bedtimes.  It’s essentially scenes from the film arranged in a comic book format.  Strangely enough, none of the lyrics to the songs that made this musical famous are included in the book.  Instead the same basic ideas are related in the dialogue.  I don’t know if this is a licensing issue or if they just thought it would work better in comic form without the songs.  Nevertheless, if you and your children enjoy Frozen, this is an enjoyable read.

Rating: ***

Movie Review: Sing (2016)

Title: Sing
Release Date: 21 December 2016
Director:  Christophe Lourdelet, Garth Jennings

Zootopia used a city of anthropomorphic animals as the setting for a socially-conscious police procedural, and Sing does essentially the same thing for the musical comedy, albeit not as sophisticated. Koala Buster Moon is a show biz impresario who decides to save his decaying theater by staging a talent competition.  Cue audition scenes followed by rehearsals with quirky core group of ambitious talent: a soulful gorilla who does not want to be part of his father’s bank-robbing gang, a punk rock porcupine more talented than her self-centered boyfriend, an overworked mother of 25 piglets looking for a chance to express herself, an exuberant, Teutonic pig in sparkly dance leotards, and a shy, teenage elephant with a strong voice.

The movie is full of gags and generally funny enough to entertain both children and adults.  But it also contains some serious undertones and cynicism about show business that seems a bit heavy, especially a terrifying scene in which the theater is destroyed.  The movie has it’s flaws, among them a soundtrack that switches frenetically among popular songs (the licensing bill must’ve been huge) and is a bit a bloated at nearly two hours in length.  But it’s better than the sum of it’s parts with some joyous musical performances, especially in the final performance at the end of the film.
Rating: ***

Movie Review: Pitch Perfect (2012)

Title:  Pitch Perfect
Release Date: 5 October 2012
Director:Jason Moore
Production Co:Brownstone Productions
Genre:Comedy | Musical
Rating: ***1/2

Recently, I’ve been seeing references to Anna Kendrick everywhere, as if the universe wishes for me to know of her existence.  So I decided to watch this musical comedy which has a reputation as a cult classic.  I went to a college with a big a cappella scene, but the fictional college in this film takes it to a new level, where vocal groups are the highly competitive center of campus life (and apparently members have incredible recall for song lyrics and instant harmonies).  The plot leaves a lot of questions (“why if the Bellas routines are so stale & boring do they keep finishing in the top 3?” “does anyone realize that Beca’s plan to use mashups as the basis of their new performance is something already called a medley?”), but this isn’t a movie you watch for the plot.  Instead you watch it for the funny dialogue, the showstopping musical numbers, and strong comic performances from Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, Skylar Astin, and Ben Platt.  It’s kind of Animal House with harmony, but with the heart of an 80s John Hughes film (with a very obvious shout-out to The Breakfast Club as a plot point).  So, put me down as a fan of Kendrick and Pitch Perfect.  I’m ready for the sequel.