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Saturday, 15 December 2012

DECEMBER 13, 2012

GENRE: ZOMBIE
SOURCE: DVD (OWN COLLECTION)

I'm really not sure what the point of Osombie is, as it is marketed around and named after Osama Bin Laden, allegedly the zombie villain of the film. He's only in it for about two minutes, nor does he even really DO anything, but that's enough to enrage anyone affected by 9/11 (plus folks that just get offended about anything, like the morons who began attacking Mass Effect's Facebook page because a guy who they THOUGHT was the Newtown shooter supposedly played it). Since they're going to hate it anyway, why not go all out?

Because, for whatever reason, this is a fairly straight (I'd hesitate to use the word "serious") zombie movie, albeit with the supposedly comical site of one of the worst people who has ever lived caked in undead makeup. It's not like Postal where they are using his crimes as the source of politically incorrect/scatological humor - it's more of a "what if" scenario: "What if Osama's body wasn't dumped in the ocean on purpose, but was ejected into it when the helicopter transporting his body crashed? Oh, and he's a zombie." That's pretty much it, and after that he disappears until the finale.

As it turns out, the 2-3 scenes he appears (including the opening, which depicts the raid on his compound but will not be mistaken for Zero Dark Thirty - the Asylum must be PISSED they didn't think of this first) are of no real consequence to the rest of the movie, which is a standard action/horror zombie flick where a group of Marines (or SEALS, I dunno) are on a mission to investigate the release of a zombie-making biological weapon (inexplicably called Godsmack) and also find out if Osama was really dead. What this means is that the movie is nothing more than a hopelessly repetitive series of scenes where the group walks around a bit, chatting about their mission and also their lives back home, and then every 10 minutes we are "treated" to an action scene comprised of little more than the characters shooting at random followed by cutaways to anonymous zombies' heads exploding or being riddled with bullets and collapsing. I'm not even exaggerating, every action scene is identical to the last - you can skip any random chunk of the movie and it will make zero difference beyond the reduced number of living characters.

Now, this might be entertaining enough to warrant a pass, but unfortunately I'm one of those crazy folks who can't enjoy a zombie's head being blown apart in a sea of pixels and "blood" that looks like smoke and has the curious inability to land anywhere. Call me old-fashioned, but I'll take one practical dummy head loaded with condoms full of blood being blown up over 10 poorly rendered digital ones; we've all seen enough of both in our lifetimes, so it's definitely a "quality over quantity" approach that these guys (and everyone else making modern zombie movies) should be going for if they want to be memorable. And I can even forgive CG if it's being used to a creative effect - The Walking Dead seems to favor CGI more and more with each new episode, but they keep coming up with terrific gags and ways to dispatch them (face stuck to helmet guy!), so it evens out and works. Here, there's almost nothing interesting about any zombie OR how it's killed - sniper shot to the head, regular shot to the head, sniper shot to the head, sniper shot to the chest which makes zombie explode, etc. You'll see any of its 5-6 variations multiple times within a single sequence, so by the time they get to their 3rd action sequence, you'll start to wonder if the DVD is looping scenes - they're that indistinguishable from one another.

Because that's the other problem - there's no sense of their progress, being that the entire movie takes place in the Afghanistan (Utah) desert, with very little change to the landscape or surroundings. It's not until the final sequence that they reach a cave, and half of the characters stay outside engaging in another repetitive shootout anyway. Even Dawn of the Dead, set almost entirely in a mall, found a way to keep things visually interesting, with the characters finding new locales in the mall, changing their little storage office into a fairly swell apartment home, etc. Here, it's more like "Oh, they must be further along because there was only one big rock to the side before and now there are three."

Really, the only way to monitor the movie's progress is to keep a tally of who was dead. One of the few things about the movie I liked is that they all had a level-headed attitude toward taking out someone who had been bit, none of that "don't shoot him, maybe there's a cure!" bullshit. Folks accept their death easily and without drama, but the flipside is that we never get to see a fallen character return as a zombie (well, except Osama), which is usually worth one good scare or surprise (see: Johnny in Night of the Living Dead). But oh well, every action scene finds someone being bit and taken out when the newest swarm of out-of-nowhere zombies have been dispatched, or the occasional member of the group will sacrifice himself in the thick of battle (one of the few good bits - a zombie pulls the pin of one's grenade so he bear hugs him and runs off to the side so no one else will get hurt in the explosion).

Oh, and their forced banter is just as repetitive as the action, where every other line has to be in the form of ball-busting so that we audience members can grow to love them (pro-tip: less is more). One character is even named Joker and thus enters or exits several scenes with a new riddle joke, many of them not very PC, almost none of them funny (I did laugh at the "What's the hardest thing about being a rollerblader?" "Telling your parents that you're gay." one though), but I guess that's part of the point as (SPOILER!) his dying words are about how his jokes aren't funny. But everyone tries to make us laugh or at least judge them as cool, when in reality they're all pretty interchangeable and dull. The only exception is the character played by Jasen Wade, who is a slightly unhinged guy that constantly shows off his very whitened teeth and also apparently has Wolverine powers of regeneration (he shoots a rocket launcher inside a cave at a close-range target, which explodes all the way out to the entrance, yet walks away with a mere limp). But I don't know how comfortable I am saying that the best character in the movie is someone from Amber Alert (he played the kidnapper).

So like I said, I don't get it. Their only hook is Osama-zombie, and he's in it so little it would be like advertising Wreck-It Ralph as a movie about Q-Bert. But even that is enough to turn sensitive viewers off, which makes me wonder why they didn't go all out, put him front and center, and make being offensive part of the point, like a zombie Family Guy. The movie's target audience is the completely non-discerning, I guess; I can practically hear the filmmakers saying "It's just supposed to be dumb fun!", but that's the problem - it isn't. It's just dull.

What say you?

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