Movie Review: Birds of Prey

DC trying to catch up to Marvel’s universe, has been sad on a blockbuster scale. Some changes have steered things in a better direction, like Birds of Prey. Margot Robbie’s second outing as Harley Quinn has some rough edges that don’t slow its flashy personality around as it tops the rest in this poorly executed world of cape-wearing crime fighters and makeup obsessed criminals.

Harley Quinn has broken up with her scene, kid boyfriend Joker (Jared Leto, who is not seen at all, we will get to that later), so she must cope with heartbreak and do some searching to figure herself out. This leads to alcohol and violence and pissing off Obi-Wan – I mean Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor) – who wants her, and others dead for a precious diamond. Eventually, it all boils down to him vs. Harley and other ladies who have either wronged or been wronged by Obi-Sionis in a fun breakup comic book adventure.

The ride of Harley’s post-breakup world has a few potholes that make for a bumpy journey. Most of it gets explained or commented on through her monologue, which helps people who haven’t seen Suicide Squad and adds to her bubbly yet deadly personality. It makes things choppy and tends to over-explain rather than letting the narrative breathe with its own pacing.

Robbie, like many talented folks, has been royally fucked by DC with movies like Suicide Squad. Her second chance shines as she inhabits the iconic clown villain, who tries to somewhat redeems herself morally with some failure and success. My experience with Arleen Sorkin as Joker’s twisted toy did give me conflicting feelings with Robbie as the character since I did not go on a suicide mission to watch her 2016 debut. She may not rise above performances by Sorkin across games and shows but a worthy casting choice to represent the character on the big screen.

Speaking of one of the worst received DCEU entries, Jared Leto is nowhere to be seen. Get a dude dressed as a Blood on the Dance Floor fan, then turn his back to the camera then boom, you have a replacement to fill in the introduction. I have no issues with the man, but that savage move of cutting him out is hilarious.

The birds – Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), Dinah Lance / Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), and Helena Bertinelli / The Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) – get proper development to feel like fleshed-out characters despite this running shorter than the average superhero and villain flick. They get the love they rightfully deserve by being likable characters who kick so much ass with my personal favorite being The Huntress, I did not know this is the badass woman I needed in my life.

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Harley Quinn

McGregor was handed a generic, greedy baddie, with that said, I enjoyed every second of his screentime. His performance takes control of each scene in a terrifyingly charismatic way, elevating an average antagonist to a level of quality that Roman does not deserve, good job Jedi Master McGregor.

The police officer who ties much of the girls together, Renee, is meant to be a cheesy one line deliverer with a thick New York accent, but it took me time to get adjusted to her. Her personality got laid on too thick at times, but by the end, I loved her like the rest of the cast.

The action floods itself through the streets of Gotham without taking time away from the story and the people that drive this vehicle. Stylish choreography with creative props to bolster the combat. I wish for more blood and gore, but the brutal sound effects, along with other methods, satisfy my thirst to see graphic violence.

The visuals start off so strong with neon colors in the environment and costumes along with comic booky choices to brighten up the scenery. Despite this beautiful beginning, the climax is at night with no lights for a classic DC environment full of bad guys wearing dark clothing. Dear future filmmakers who may read this, never do this as American films (DC especially) love setting up action sequences like this. Stick to your guns on artistic decisions.

Director Cathy Yan (Dead Pigs) and writer Christina Hodson (Bumblebee) crafted a film that does not radically change the genre but put in their own twist on familiar ingredients with kick-ass women. I do have questions on some odd decisions that took me out of the moment, but those were only a few brief issues I found. I do hope for more from Yan, and I am excited to see what Hodson cooks up for the Batgirl and The Flash movies.

While DC still cannot unlearn some qualities, Harley Quinn and her crew land in the top tier range of the universe. I do wish more time with the group united rather than a scattered narrative that links itself together by the end, despite being incredibly well executed. I may hate birds, but Birds of Prey knocks it out of the park with nonstop fun, and with a sequel, it can improve itself to sit next to some of the best comic book movies of all time.

Score: 8/10

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Images via Warner Bros. Pictures/DC

Movie Review in Retrospect: Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island

My childhood circulated around a few cartoons, one of which was Scooby-Doo. As an adult, it is not my cup of tea as my tastes have darkened, it has left the gang and their dog behind. Recently, I discovered the best thing the franchise ever did, Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, was on Netflix, which brought me to rewatching an old favorite of mine. While some things don’t hold up for a grown man who can see some dicey flaws, it still gave me all of the nostalgic emotions I need to feel.

Fair warning, this is a straight to DVD movie from the 90s, so expect spoilers. Also, if you have never seen this classic, then shame on you.

The gang has split up after Daphne Blake (Mary Kay Bergman) has grown tired of not finding real monsters, so she and Fred Jones (Frank Welker) start-up a reality series that is like Ghosthunters, but real, which does not go according to plan. After getting a tip and gathering Scooby (Scott Innes), Norville “Shaggy” Rodgers (Billy West), and Velma Dinkley (B.J. Ward) head South to find ghouls and other horrors. A woman, Lena Dupree (Tara Strong), takes them to an island where spirits creep to the surface, and the dead begin to rise; finally, the crew meet a threat that not only makes the hottest member regret her decision, it makes fans like myself thankful for this darker turn.

The cast is small but quite strong in both its actors and characters. The chemistry between the members of Mystery Incorporated is what I remember with some of the best villains they have faced. Simone Lenoir (Adrienne Barbeau) and Lena are both intriguingly devilish. Meanwhile, you get a questionable Cajun accent from Jim Cummings as Jaques, the boat driver who helps Simone and Lena suck the life out of others with their cat rituals. I heard a mix of influences, mostly Danny Trejo, but I got used to it.

The biggest missed opportunity is to utilize Mark Hamill’s wild talents. Snakebite Scruggs is the only character who goes nowhere except for an antagonist for the sake of being an asshole who wants a catfish, yet sucks so bad he cannot catch it. Nonetheless, Luke Fisherman Skywalker is still a treat once I realized he starred in this iconic Scooby-Doo adventure.

Detective Beau Neville (Cam Clarke) is a generic suspect who turns out to be an undercover cop, but I have always liked him. He will easily fool the children, or me, a man who remembers everything in this movie except for the twist of him being one of the good guys. I just hope he bangs Velma, they had that type of chemistry.

Speaking of sex, Daphne certainly is bisexual with a weird comment when Velma is floating by tormented ghosts. She wants Fred yet has desires for her nerdy friend. Let’s get this relationship going if we ever can get anything good out of Scooby-Doo again.

Another miss that my dumb child brain paid attention to is that somehow even the confederate shamblers are good guys too. I buy the zombies not being the villains but not that. Come on, David Doi and Glenn Leopold, you two could have written it as dead Union soldiers instead of racists who betrayed our country.

I wish the climax went a little longer. It felt shortly cut with the action. An extra 15 or so minutes would leave me satisfied to see more of the zombies fight off the cats who are trying to sacrifice our heroes.

I know the music in both the shows and movies has always been cheesy, but some here hit or miss in what it is trying to achieve. Some songs hit the right mark, then others go too deep for me that takes me out of certain moments.

The art style sadly declines in future iterations, but Zombie Island still looks fantastic. It has creepy elements with its darker tones. The classic characters look fantastic, with some revisions to some of their outfits like Fred’s. The issue I ran into is the aspect ratio being so small on my TV as it is 2020, not 1998.

Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island is everything I remember as a kid. Sure, the darkness does not hold up entirely, but it is the perfect introduction into horror or to the monster hunting gang. If only we could get more of this and less of the overly family-friendly adventures that the world is subjected to today.

Score: 7/10

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Image via Warner Home Video

 

 

Movie Review: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

It may sound cliche, but it feels like it was only yesterday when The Force Awakens released, now here we are at the end of the new saga of Star Wars. I had some issues across the new trilogy but really enjoyed the last two films. The conclusion with The Rise of Skywalker continues those problems then adds some on top to make for an anticlimactic finale, leaving a sour taste in my mouth despite all of its delightful qualities.

Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) now knows Emporer Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) lives on, so he must go on a quest to gain that power. Meanwhile, the resistance continues the fight against the new fashion of the Empire, The First Order, and Rey (Daisy Ridley) must continue her training to lead her movement into victory while battling her internal struggle due to her mysterious past. After some recycling old ideas and pandering to the audience, the same story is told with a sprinkling of fresh elements to brighten up this dusty narrative.

Bringing back Palpatine felt unnecessary, but out of the unneeded return of characters from the original trilogy, this one ended up being much better than expected. It is far better than going back to previously visited planets or bringing people like Lando (Billy Dee Williams) into the story to get a cheer from viewers.

I know Rey is virtually lady Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), and Poe (Oscar Isaac) is the new young stud rebel like Han Solo (Harrison Ford), but I still love the new heroes. Finn (John Boyega), Rey, and Poe all match up wonderfully with some great chemistry during the darkest and happiest moments of their battle against the space Nazis. To heighten the characters, everyone’s performance continues to wow me to make these personalities come alive on the big screen.

Kylo will always be far from the best of the villains in Star Wars, but he is not close to the blandest. I did not understand the choices made for his personality traits in Force Awakens, but I ended up loving to hate him in The Last Jedi. Sadly, Abrams and his team of writers decided to take his arc in a direction that felt as shoehorned in as much of the plot of this damn movie. All I will say is that by the end, I internally oy veyed and rolled my eyes, tilting my head way back in my seat.

With that said, I still think Driver is one of the best actors in the industry right now. I may not like these decisions for his emotional wanna-be Darth Vader, but he executed that arc the best he could without letting the writing hold him down to perform.

The pacing initially felt off. Things moved rather too quickly for the sake of checking things off a list. Eventually, the film mellowed out to a light jog that worked better than its weird speed in the first chunk.

The action had a classic Star Wars aesthetic with stormtroopers who cannot aim and heroes blasting away until they needed to be stopped for the convenience of the plot. It may get overdone, but seeing ships soar through the sky, Rey and Kylo dueling with their lightsabers, and seeing the protagonists pulverize the white and black-suited army always entertains.

The editing has sloppy moments. The opening feels awkward, yet badass as Kylo Ren destroys some aliens that are in his way. A few scenes randomly cut into something else before going back in to finish out what happened seconds before, causing a disruption in the flow of the movie.

All of the wrongs that have been done to this universe gets partially made up with the eye and ear candy that is the visuals and sound design. The classic TIE fighters have the iconic audio of flying past, lasers getting shot, and the lightsaber trigger always pleases the nostalgia hungry part of my brain. If the new trilogy does one thing better than previous entries in the franchise, and miles superior to most blockbusters, is its special effects to bring this universe to life.

John Williams continues to impress as he always does across his long career. His leitmotifs and traditional sound that he crafted for these movies, the classic score, or the new tunes created will live on forever. This man knows how to make timeless music that makes even the worst moments much more tolerable.

The Rise of Skywalker is no magical ending to the new trilogy as it maintains many of the previous issues and instills new ones across its run time. Nostalgia is its worst enemy, but the attempts at surprises come to no positive effect. Episode nine is an enjoyable experience to stream on Disney+ and not one to spend money on at the theater.

Score: 6/10

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Image via Lucasfilm/Disney

Movie Review: Knives Out

The whodunit style of mysteries has aged out with a few popping up here and there that tend to try too hard to outsmart the audience or become completely convoluted, making the whole affair idiotic. Rian Johnson’s Knives Out defies the current scene of cutting down a long list of murder suspects in a clever fashion that is still easily accessible for dummies like myself.

A week after the birthday celebration and death of millionaire author, father, and grandfather Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), who dies in a rather suspicious manner. Thus bringing in Lieutenant Elliott (LaKeith Stanfield), Trooper Wagner (Noah Segan), and the famous private investigator Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) look into Harlan’s greedy, snobby family members. It twists and turns, confessions and lies are told, this is a wild ride every second.

Having a cluster of characters can get overwhelming to remember. Right away, everyone is introduced along with their possible motivations to kill Harlan and their relation to the head of the family. This is done without the cheese and avoids feeling like a barrage of information. To make this meeting of these despicable personalities even better, it weaves itself into the plot to keep everything moving forward rather than stopping just to set up everyone’s role.

Not only are each person memorable, but the starstudded cast highlights these people who I love to hate, with a couple of genuinely likable people like the investigators and Marta (Ana de Armas) as Harlan’s nurse, and friend. Having the ultra-liberal Joni Thrombey (Toni Collette), the seemingly sensible, yet deceiving Linda Thrombey (Jamie Lee Curtis), the spoiled and lazy Ransom Drysdale (Chris Evans), the greedy Walt Thrombey (Michael Shannon), the heavily conservative Richard Drysdale (Don Johnson), Marta’s one true friend outside of Harlan, Meg (Katherine Langford), and the alt-right teenager Jacob Thrombey (Jaeden Martell) completes a roster of disgusting rich folk who have their own quirks that make them distinguishable. Having distinct personality traits tends to get forgotten at some point, but each attribute has substance to the narrative while fleshing out these scummy human beings.

One of the beautiful things about the astonishing casting comes from allowing everyone to flex their skills in ways people normally don’t see. Evans got to play a selfish snob contrasting against his time as Captain America, and Craig gets another chance to be a Southerner like he did in Logan Lucky, with some slippage of his British accent, he does an overall solid job especially with that drawl that he nails.

 

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(From left to right): Douchey Captain America wearing a sweater (Chris Evans), Southern James Bond (Daniel Craig), and sweet Marta (Ana de Armas) (Image via Lionsgate)

 

The chemistry felt disgustingly natural. I felt the disappointment that was universally directed towards Ransom, I believed in the political tension between Joni, Jacob, and Richard, and I adored every second of sweet Marta, the only nice person associated with this clan of rich monsters.

The set up is so rhythmically done to make for a smooth viewing experience. Later on, when reveals popped up, it did not feel like Johnson tried to outsmart me or overly explained. Everything had logic to it and connections that were strategically placed for the observant audience member to catch or grab people who missed out on clues to come in for another viewing.

The bread crumbs did get some clarity by the finale’s disclosure, but not all, making for an attractive second viewing to catch everything I missed. I know I must have as I am an idiot when it comes to these things. Despite my stupidity, Johnson does make a fair game out of figuring out the master criminal’s plan before all of the cards get revealed.

Plenty of balance was made for the humor and thrilling investigation. The funny moments hit hard, I still felt Johnson could have taken a few extra steps to plant more jokes and subtle details for more laughs. The drama and suspense never misses a beat and delivers the perfect amount throughout the time frame.

Johnson has his film running like a well-oiled machine. He meticulously drives down this road without a pothole or wrong turn to be found. Being both the sole writer and director gives him full control in the best way imaginable, with only one brief moment of a plot device used to move things along. Still, he manages to steer clear of tactics to get my eyes rolling at his narrative.

Two sides of commentary embedded itself under the surface, focusing on politics and social class. The insight into the problems within the far left and right was done objectively to make sure nobody got a pass, but it failed to be impactful in any way as it did not manage hit its target when it comes to the overall message. The outlook on evil wealthy people was done successfully; however, it is hard to believe in the credibility when most people working on the film, especially the main stars and the guy who directed a Star Wars movie, are pointing the finger at influential people with a lot of money.

Few films get made that I want to rewatch, yet Johnson has me wanting to keep Knives Out on repeat. Littered with well-thought-out details with some of the most brilliant actors in the business to bring it all to life. It could have made for a more poignant experience, but nonetheless, this is a blast from start to finish.

Now I just want a rated R sequel where all of these horrible people get brutally killed slasher movie style. Come on, Johnson, do it, you coward.

Score: 9/10

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Image via Lionsgate

 

 

Movie Review: 21 Bridges

Sometimes the trailer is better than the movie, that is the case here. 21 Bridges is a solid experience as a stay at home movie with a few friends to enjoy something entertaining and fairly exciting. No real substance, failures left and right, but an easy ride that goes quickly.

Ray (Taylor Kitsch) and Michael (Stephen James) rob a place hoping to get 30 kilos of cocaine; instead, they find 300 kilos (dun dun duuunnn) and must kill everyone on sight, mostly police officers. So, it is Andre Davis (Chadwick Boseman), a cop who is known for killing cop killers, to find these men and uncover the mystery of the additional loads of drugs, which he does by locking down Manhattan’s 21 bridges. This is as typical as you get with the twists, turns, and shootouts with some bland characters.

Boseman does a great job for a character who is thin but has a more in-depth background than anyone else. Ray and Michael get a brief, generic overview of their lives that does not make them sympathetic or even great villains. Other officers like Captain McKenna (J.K. Simmons) and Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller) who are equally thin, but at least have performances that make it worthwhile.

Speaking of Simmons, one of the best actors in history. He is wasted completely. Same with a lot of the cast, but as the most prominent name here, I felt that anyone could have played that character. His little screen time is utilized to the best of his abilities, but I feel he needed more substance.

The entirety of Andre as a character was based on information in the few minutes about his dad’s death and an investigation on how many crooks he has killed in 10 years. While this lead to his motivations, plenty went under the radar to make this fictional person feel real or give me an ounce of empathy towards him.

A movie about seven police officers getting gunned down has some weight it carries on its shoulders. The violence, the grim shots of the crime scene, and the acting of everyone arriving at the massacre got me in the feels. The only issue comes from the faceless people serving the city of New York who got slaughtered as I just witnessed generic people in uniforms get killed without any real development of a single person involved, the killers included.

The story pushes forward for the sake of gunshots and drama. When it is hitting a stride, I felt compelled by what was happening, other times it felt melodramatic. Seriously, police on police or police vs. FBI is overly done in everything, nobody needs to see how it plays out in the same way it does on TV.

At times, things just start happening without much explanation. The police get information at times that do not make sense, while other times, it decides to let the audience know how things are moving along.

An even split comes as I got to see Officer Black Panther hunt down the men who killed his fellow men and women in blue and seeing the criminals attempt to flee out of the city. One cause of tension is to chase down murders while the other is both an escape and to solve who set them up to gather that extra cocaine with the mysterious arrival of the police, something must be going on here. Well, yeah, and it got shoved down my throat in the last few minutes to wrap up the story. It is an hour and 39-minute movie, it could have added some time on the clock to flesh things out more.

The action is entertaining because it is hard to go wrong with plenty of blood and lots of gunfire. No real choreography is done, unlike others in the genre. It is more about running, shooting, and nothing all that memorable except for how dark everything is. Why do so many American action movies keep everything in the dark with people wearing dark clothing? Get it together.

The many complications to filmmaking make this impossible to solve as to how this went so poorly. Instead of an exhilarating thriller, 21 Bridges is an enjoyable flick to turn on and turn your brain off. Director Brian Kirk did well despite mostly experience on the small screen with Game of Thrones and Dexter, meanwhile writers Mather Michael Carnahan from the terrible World War Z and Adam Mervis from The Philly Kid (what?) laid out bland characters and a narrative that should have been done more justice to give me some empathy as I watched things unfold. Maybe a more experienced staff of writers and some magic from some unsung hero on the crew could have saved this movie.

Score: 5/10

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Image via STX Entertainment

Movie Review: JoJo Rabbit

As a Jewish person, I rarely get moved by Hollywood’s depiction of my people’s struggles, especially as almost all of them center on World War 2. Taika Waititi, a New Zealand native of Jewish descent, tells a story to make me proud by touching on the subject with grace, intelligence, and adding something new to the table. JoJo Rabbit is the most important film I have seen all year, and any sane, anti-Nazi must flood the theaters to support this hilarious and thought-provoking masterpiece.

Johannes Betzler or as his bullies call him, Jojo Rabbit (Roman Griffin Davis) is a troubled ten-year old Nazi during World War 2. He discovers his mother, Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) who manages to get a role in a movie that is not Asian, has kept a young Jewish girl named Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) in the wall of his deceased sister’s bed room. The young boy’s world is flipped upside down, the only way to cope with bullies and his mother’s secret is to lean on his imaginary representation of his hero, Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi). On paper, this is as wacky as can be while having surprising punches to the gut for an emotional balance.

Davis, McKenzie, and Johansson all have a deep, complex chemistry. Davis’ protagonist feels torn as he loves his darling mother, but she is an anti-Nazi who is hiding a Jewish girl, crossing the line for young Jojo, and making me fall in love with her. Meanwhile, he develops a relationship with this girl he hates and knows his government demands for any information gets reported.

The trio of stars all put on stellar performances, especially Davis who steals scenes with some of his wholesome viewpoints, then turns sinister with his warped mindset on what people deserve to live happy lives and those who don’t.

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Tensions in the household between Jojo (Davis), imaginary Hitler (Waititi), and Rosie (Johansson). Via Fox Searchlight

Captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell) is the necessary cherry on top. The man is in charge of training children into soldiers for Hitler’s army. His drunk antics while having a deeper sense of what is happening in Germany allows him to rise above being a forgettable character.

Yorki (Archie Yates) is Jojo’s best friend. He brings out a cuteness that is welcome throughout every time he pops up on-screen. Damn Nazis making children irresistibly adorable.

Plenty of other talent went to waste, sadly. Klenzendorf’s right hand man and woman, Finkel (Alfie Allen) and Fraulein Rahm (Rebel Wilson) are almost forgettable. Allen gets plenty of screen time without any lines, making him someone who uses up more space than delivering any substance, a complete misuse of his abilities. Wilson is a surprise as I normally cannot stomach her usual roles, but the few moments with her are hysterical.

Waititi impressively directs and writes wonderfully while having a key role in most of the plot. His Hitler is hilarious and disturbingly charismatic while representing how prejudices grows within a society, especially when dealing with children. He takes on the controversial role of one of the most evil people in history and manages to be respectful to those who died, and a giant middle finger to Nazi scum.

Diving into Nazi Germany is a beautifully haunting scene. The architecture and landscapes are eye candy, but the swastikas and hanging victims cause a weird feeling of regret to enjoy the delightful side of the visuals.

Balancing tone when making a comedy out of one of the worst times in human history. The humor lands on its feet every time to impress the most grudging Olympic judges. The drama knows when to step in to remind viewers of its important message and that the Holocaust is a tragedy. The two have a symbiotic relationship that works perfectly.

The obvious, satirical anti-hate point is made even before sitting in a theater. Waititi goes deeper as war does more harm than what’s on the surface. His focus on the damages it can do to a child’s innocence and the systemic side of prejudices makes for a hardy meal to digest.

Jojo Rabbit flies by and is something that can easily be rewatched a countless amount of times. Despite some German accents that fall out into other countries, the acting is top-notch. I cannot compare Waititi’s film and his inspiration, the novel Caging Skies by Christine Leunens, but it sure has sold me on putting that on my reading list after watching one of the best films of the year.

Score: 9/10

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Images via Fox Searchlight

Movie Review: Zombieland: Double Tap

10 years has kept me desperately waiting for a sequel to the 2009 hit Zombieland. As an avid fan of the brain eaters, the twist on the genre hooked me. Double Tap reunites the original cast along with the first film’s writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, along with including Godzilla writer Dave Callaham, this sweet reunion manages both as enjoyable as the classic while being a pointless return.

After settling in the White House and having fun for a while, the quartet of survivors, Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone), and the not so little Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) are split into pieces of a Twinkie as the young one wants to branch off to find love like Wichita and Columbus have found. She runs off with a stoner pacifist named Berkeley (Avan Jogia), maybe too familiar of territory when her and Wichita ran away in the final act of the previous adventure, and the crew must get her back before this new way of surviving without killing gets her turned into a zombie.

Revisiting these characters makes it worth going back despite the lackluster story. The chemistry of the group along with their memorable personalities makes every moment funny and heartwarming when things get real during their fun times in the apocalypse.

New characters become a hit or a miss like Berkeley is not the strongest, but he brings something new to the table and same with Madison (Zoey Deutch) as the typical valley girl bimbo who miraculously survives the world ending epidemic. Nevada (Rosario Dawson) felt underutilized, maybe it is the crush I have for Dawson deep down inside of me, but I adored her addition even with the little amount of screen time. Others like Albuquerque (Luke Wilson) and Flagstaff (Thomas Middleditch) were gimmicks to play off of Tallahassee and Columbus’ personalities and dynamic, without giving any substance to the story.

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Columbus and Wichita realizing their annoying, older partner has a younger twin. Via Sony Pictures

As Reese and Wernick grew as writers with Deadpool, along with adding Callaham to the mix, the comedy had the same distinct style as the first with Columbus’ rules, creative ways to kill the undead, and nods to the past. The decade of space between the films did not hinder the tone. I spent some time eye rolling as some of the self-references were painfully on the nose rather than finding a more creative way to bring back iconic jokes.

Going bigger certainly helped out as the robust action had better choreography that lead to more intense battles. I felt the danger more so here, especially with the introduction of Left 4 Dead styled zombie types.

More elaborate set pieces and locations made for a better change of scenery. The time in the White House was a blast along with the road trip to find grown up Little Rock. It makes for a more visually pleasing world to look at as buildings fall apart and some places get built for shelter except for some embarrassing CGI that instead of fleshing out the world, I saw laughable green screened backgrounds and objects added in by computer when it should have a physical prop.

Double Tap suffers mostly because of its predecessor. Gags and jokes had me losing my mind as I laughed continuously throughout, but nothing is as memorable as some of the standout bits from 2009. At least Ruben Fleischer redeems himself as a director after Venom, but could not reach the bar set by himself and his writers.

Score: 7/10

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Images via Sony Pictures