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Teen Critics Embrace the Undead… Again

Cinema Junkie Introduces a New Team of Teen Critics

Above: The undead invade America again in "Zombieland"

It's October and there's the smell of rotting flesh in the air as zombies prepare to invade downtown and area theaters. Cinema Junkie introduced it's first team of Teen Critics in 2007 with their reviews of George A. Romero's "Diary of the Dead." So now it seems fitting to launch the 2009 Teen Critics with their reviews of "Zombieland" (opening October 2 throughout San Diego). So here are the first two reviews from the class of 2010. I hope you'll enjoying reading the thoughts and opinions of the KPBS Teen Critics. This is a program I started in 2007 because I wanted to hear from the core demographic that most Hollywood movies are made for since most of the people making and reviewing the films are two to three to four times the age of these high school teens. Plus I'm thrilled to send them off to a zombie film for their first reviewing gig. There will be a few more teens reviews coming this weekend as well.

Coping with a zombie infested America in "Zombieland"

Sony Pictures

Above: Coping with a zombie infested America in "Zombieland"

By Jorge Hernandez, Teen Critic

Blood, flesh, spilled intestines? Yes, it’s another zombie movie! Don’t get all touchy about the gore -- you love it. I love it. We all love it. Something carnal and strange commands us to watch the most blood infested movies. Whether it be “Dawn of the Dead,” “Shaun of the Dead,” or “Day of the Dead,” we love our zombie movies.

“Zombieland” (opening October 2 throughout San Diego) is not necessarily another cliché zombie movie. It does have the mindless corpse-like people chasing after the last remaining humans but it is shown with gut-busting humor. Only one other zombie flick approaches this style and that was “Shaun of the Dead.” Compared to “Shaun of the Dead,” though, “Zombieland” isn’t mindless. It gives us a message of trust and belonging.

This film follows Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), a by-the-book, wimpy college student forced to go out into the world and fend for himself in a post-apocalyptic United States of Zombieland. While trying to figure out his place in this new world, he meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a badass cowboy searching for the last reminder of life when it was simple and good -- a Twinkie. While searching for the last Twinkie on earth, they are harassed by two sisters: Wichita (Emma Stone), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin). In order to survive, the group must learn to trust each other or become zombie chowder.

“Zombieland” is a brand new approach to the zombie genre with trials of love and trust translated into unrelenting humor. But also definitely full of gore that will satiate any zombie fan, including myself. There were moments when the zombies claw into flesh and tear out the intestines. So please have a strong stomach when watching this film.

Another bonus to this movie is the prolonged suspense like when you know a zombie will pop out from behind the car seat. But when it does, don’t jump like I did. You know it’s coming.

-- Jorge Hernandez is a senior at Mount Miguel High School. He loves watching films since they have a lot to offer. He appreciates good films like “Click,” “Forrest Gump” “Moulin Rouge,” and “Slumdog Millionaire.” He is looking forward to attending a four-year university, hopefully East coast, and probably majoring in the sciences.

Killer undead clowns in "Zombieland"

Sony Pictures

Above: Killer undead clowns in "Zombieland"

By Kevin Doughty, Teen Critic

“Zombieland” stars Jesse Eisenberg as Columbus, a loner who is left alone to try and survive on Earth, which is now overrun by zombies, and has come to be known as Zombieland. He has made a guidebook on how to survive in Zombieland, which if you follow the rules you should be fine. Then he meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a bad boy obsessed with killing zombies (and eating Twinkies); Wichita (Emma Stone), a young woman with trust issues; and her little sister Little Rock (Abigail Breslin). Wichita is trying to help her sister have at least something of a normal kid’s life in this zombie-infested world. And they will have to determine which is worse: relying on each other or succumbing to the zombies.

Whether it's all the fake blood, the hilarity, the fresh jokes, the unending comedic action, or the romance between Eisenberg and Stone, “Zombieland” proves an amazingly fun movie to watch. Being a big fan of zombie movies this film had the power to make me laugh and be scared at the same time.

Eisenberg and Harrelson make a wonderful team killing zombies, putting each other down, and just trying to survive. I love the way they act toward each other because it's kind of a bond of brotherhood but without them knowing each other at all.

This is a movie full of surprises, such as some very scary moments involving clowns and zombies around every corner. “Zombieland” had its emotional moments but it always ended the sadness with a good laugh. Director Ruben Fleischer had very good ways of making the movie funny, such as his use of slow motion footage of zombies and having a unique way of reminding you of Columbus’ rules of survival in Zombieland.

This isn't your typical zombie film. It has its own brand of romance and action, very different from “Shaun of the Dead.” It's a great movie for fans of "Shaun of the Dead,” yet it adds more horror and more emotion instead of just being a comedy throughout. It isn't the same type of zombies that you would see in George A. Romero's undead films either. The way “Zombieland” was filmed, it had a different mindset then the typical zombie film. Fleischer made it with the idea that zombies were more than just regular people. Instead Fleischer showed their funny side by showing them as obese people, or people you wouldn't expect, such as a hot chick Eisenberg wanted. I liked those twists. It made it so you never really knew what to expect. I also enjoyed how Fleischer had his own way of making the terror of a world run by zombies very comedic.

“Zombieland” (rated R for horror violence/gore and language) is unique because it brings many different genres to the table. It’s also a very crude movie with strong language, not recommended for parents to take their kids to. But ultimately it’s a great film to watch.

Kevin Doughty is a senior at Mount Miguel High School. After high school he plans to go to film school in Los Angeles to become a director. He says, “Being a teen critic is great because it gives me a chance to watch films and learn how to critique the acting and cinematography. which will really help my career.”

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