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Panel Report: 2012 And Zombieland

Posted on Sunday July 26, 2009, 03:57 by James Dyer in Comic-Con Diaries
Panel Report: 2012 And Zombieland

Given how little sleep we’ve had recently it’s perhaps appropriate that the panel we’ve shambled into this afternoon is Zombieland. It’s a zombie horror/comedy that sees Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg as a pair of guys trying to survive in a world overcome by the undead. The Con exclusive trailer is a lot of fun, with a tone pitches somewhere between Dawn and Shaun of the Dead. Highlights include a zombie stripper – complete with nipple tassles.

Director Reuben Fleischer is joined by Eisenberg, Harrelson and co-star Emma Stone, the latter revealing to the audience quite excitedly how desperately thrilled she was by having the opportunity to play around with a pump-action shotgun.

We’re shown a scene set before the zombie apocalypse where Eisenberg’s hot neighbour, Amber Heard, bangs on the door in a hysterical mess after being attacked by a ‘crazy homeless man’. She’s hysterical but all Eisenberg can think about is the hot girl on his couch. Cut to Heard waking up a zombie and chasing Eisenberg around the apartment. He fends her off with, variously, a blender, a shower curtain, some cotton balls and a hairspray before ultimately twatting her in the face with a cistern lid. Ouch. It’s a curious tone that veers far more towards comedy than horror – though there’s no shortage of the red stuff either.

Fleischner says Shaun of the dead really nailed zombie comedy and the tone of that was a huge influence on the movie. One audience member asks if they’d kill him if he turned into a zombie. Stone says yes. “Even if you weren’t a zombie,” chips in a rather surly Harrelson.

If Mickey Knox was in Zombieland who would be more dangerous, him or a zombie? We could be wrong but that might just be the worst question ever. Well done, that man. Woody answers by declaring NBK a misunderstood romantic comedy. Is there any way to kill a zombie with Bill Murray, asks someone else. What has this panel audience been taking? This is just getting surreal.

Second clip with Eisenberg and Harrelson going into a convenience store. Staring down the aisles, Harrelson produces a banjo and begins to play a few riffs from deliverance to draw out the walking corpses. He then beats one to death with the heavy end. The scene is the set up for the meeting with Stone’s character, who draws them into a back room to help her friend, who’s been bitten. She wants to put her out of her misery but, in a perfectly executed bait-and-switch, it’s all a ruse to get hold of the guns. “Better you make the mistake of trusting us than we make the mistake of trusting you,” she says.

After a few more slightly bizarre questions (“Dude, what’s in your zombie survival kit?”) Harrelson provides a nice segue into another film he’s appearing in, a little project called 2012.

‘Only three Comic-Cons left’ says the huge banner hanging over the entrance to Hall H. It’s not a sign that geek chique is going out of fashion but rather a reference to Roland Emmerich’s apocalyptic opus 2012, in which he manages to destroy pretty much everything he didn’t get around to in Independence Day, Godzilla and The Day After Tomorrow. Based on the Mayan doomsday prophecy of the titular year, the film prophecies the end of the world and, as this is Emmerich we’re talking about, you know it’s not going to go out with a whimper.

The new trailer plays, setting up the story as Woody Harrelson’s crackpot DJ provides John Cusack with a conspiracy nut theory that judgement day is coming. We see President Danny Glover telling the UN that only a dozen people know this secret. Cue a montage of destruction that features: solar flares, riots, trees flattened by a shockwave, earthquakes, seas covering the mountains, the Sistine Chapel being split and the Vatican crashing through St Peter’s Square, buildings being washed away and Santa Monica Pier being tipped into the sea. Not a great day for insurance premiums.

We’re then shown a scene with Cusack trying to get his family out of LA while the entire city begins to disintegrate around him. A great shot of an Arnie lookalike on TV telling people to be calm kick-starts a sequence that’s possibly the most outrageously over-the-top thing we’ve ever seen. The earth opens up, buildings fall, flames belch and the car just misses all of it. It’s a gluttonous feast of destruction and the audience lap it up, howling and cheering as the City of Angels goes down in flames.

Not everyone loved it, though. The cutest kid ever stands up to bemoan the world ending in 2012 “I can’t drive until 2013,” he says, looking genuinely put out. Emmerich assures him that he’ll live to get behind the wheel. The director goes on to say that, with 2012, he set out to make the biggest, most spectacular disaster movie of all time as this one’s going to be his last. If the footage is anything to go by then we’re inclined to say he may well have succeeded. High art this isn’t but if you want to see destruction on a global scale then you can’t ask for much more than this.

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