Film Review: Cockneys vs Zombies

Cockneys vs Zombies is an amusing enough diversion. However, there is an unmistakable sense of déjà vu.

Brothers Andy and Terry decide to rob a bank in order to try and avoid the closure of their grandfather’s care home. The gang manage to get away with a fortune, but East London does not look quite the same when they exit the bank. The area has been overrun by zombies and the gang must fight their way out and try and find their grandfather…

There is some humour in Cockneys vs Zombies, although the film would have worked better with more jokes. Matthias  Hoene’s film is very much in the same vein as Shawn of the Dead with the mundanity of surroundings and style of humour. There is the same mix of gore and humour in a mundane setting. The goriness is sometimes a site for humour. Cockneys vs Zombies is never frightening; there is never an air of trepidation.

The characterisation in the film is fine, given the time dedicated to this. The film missteps in trying to provide a more emotional aspect. This does not really work; more serious moments fall flat and could have been eliminated. Often this kind of film works better when the emphasis remains on the comedy.

The plot is predictable, with the film relying on the stereotypical characters and amusing set ups to entertain the audience. Performances are fine, given that most of the characters are rather caricature. Michelle Ryan is not so convincing however. Her tough persona rings false. Alan Ford is suitably hard as the grandfather who takes no nonsense.

Cockneys vs Zombies offers little new in terms of the zombie comedy genre. However there are some amusing moments and the film is not dull. Given the lack of innovation, hopefully there will not be many more of this kind of film.

Film Review: Paul

Zombies and serial killers overcome, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s latest adventure sees them encounter extra-terrestrial life. Paul is genuinely good fun, and a suitable tribute to the science fiction films that Pegg and Frost obviously love so much.

British sci-fi geeks Graeme and Clive embark on a road trip across America, visiting famous UFO sites. When they encounter a real alien called Paul, the friends decide to help him with his mission. Graeme, Clive and Paul are in peril as those chasing the alien edge closer…

The mix of comedy and action adventure works incredibly well in Paul. The tone is never too serious; dramatic moments are usually disrupted by a joke. While the film is certainly tongue-in-cheek, director Greg Mottola provides the momentum that allows Paul to function effectively as a sci-fi action film. The tone is buoyant; the film keeps a steady pace throughout.

Paul has a more polished feel than Hot Fuzz and Shawn of the Dead. Although a few rough edges is sometimes a good thing, in the case of these films Paul is a more attractive option than Pegg and Frost’s previous collaborations. Both Hot Fuzz and Shawn of the Dead were a little patchy in places. Thankfully Paul is better executed than this. The humour works, though some audience members may find it a little immature. Nonetheless, most cinemagoers will know what to expect from the duo.

Pegg and Frost are obviously big science fiction fans, this shines through in Paul. The film features numerous references to sci-fi films and culture, most of which are sufficiently mainstream to be understood by a wide audience. In particular, Paul functions as a homage to science-fiction films of the 1980s. These films have clearly had a profound affect on Pegg and Frost (who also wrote the film), the overt references made to Steven Spielberg indicate this.

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost play geeks in the film, characters that do not appear too far removed from their actual personalities. Both are lively and energetic, but definitely in their comfort zone. Seth Rogen voices Paul with his usual slacker sensibilities, while Kristen Wiig is great but a little underused as Ruth. Sigourney Weaver joins in the fun, playfully parodying the genre that made her a star.

David Arnold’s soundtrack is great, with more than a nod to John Williams’ classic E.T. score. Overall, Paul is highly enjoyable, especially for sci-fi fans and those nostalgic for the Spielbergian oeuvre.