November 01, 2010

Walking Dead 1:1


Soooo... I was pretty geeked about this series despite Frank Darabont's involvement in it. I liked The Mist rather a lot but he seems regularly to squander opportunities for horror in favor of syrup and, y'know, hard to say which Darabont was gonna' show for an adaptation of Robert Kirkman's Image comic series. Jury's still out. The problem I have is that main character Deputy Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) is a fucking idiot. He makes bad choices, seems inconsistent in his acceptance/comprehension of the zombie apocalypse, and, lamentably, exists in a scenario that doesn't sensibly punish him for his idiocy.

Consider that when he returns home after bumbling about in hospital (in straight ripper of 28 Days Later) and making his way through a few impressive environments, he makes quite a spectacle of himself in his house and neglects to dress and arm himself upon his departure. Immediately after, a sympathetic father/son survivor unit warn him that any excessive noise draws the "walkers" (in a world without George Romero, I guess, you call them something else) which leads to The First Night in which Deputy Grimes' suburbia is seen crawling with nocturnal baddies (in a straight ripper of I Am Legend which is, by the by, also not about zombies). The idea that zombies would be more active at night is curious to me - and to the makers of the series as well, apparently, as soon enough our moronic hero rides a horse (!) into the middle of downtown Atlanta into a horde of the hungry undead in broad daylight.

It's not smart. It's kind of stupid, actually. Stupid being exactly what Romero's zombie movies are generally not. Honestly, whenever anyone in a deserted hospital that's obviously the scene of violence decides to go into an unlit stairwell with a pack of matches; well, son, you've already lost me - and most likely for the duration.

Like the scene where Deputy Grimes and his buddies take a hot shower at the local police station, a-whoopin' and a hollerin' in appreciation of one of modernity's luxuries: lost to the horde! But what about the noise? And what about Grimes' complete non-acceptance of the infestation despite witnessing scary hands and a half-eaten body at the hospital? And what about his failure to ask one of his former colleagues if there's any Bub in there after the "sickness" took hold? And what about the stupid cross-cutting between Grimes dispatching a cool-looking zombie chick out of... mercy (in a scene so poorly established that I did wonder for a few moments if the monster was his wife), and his buddy trying to shoot his zombied-out wife and failing in fits of unsympathetic weeping? What's it all about?

Hoping for the nihilism of The Mist, I'm sort of thinking that Walking Dead is more akin to the Eisenhower-era relational melodrama of The Majestic. As it's written so far - with the dumbass dialogue, the wooden performance, the stupid actions of its stupid characters (the wife's hooked up with moron Ponch? who gives a shit about any of these douchebags?) - there's not much hope for me that this derivative though often handsome-looking series is going to be much more than heartfelt pap with occasional gore: zombies your mom could love (to go along with the "Dragon Tattoo" series' ugly rape-revenge-sploitation you could take your grandma's sewing circle to).

Sure, I'll hang with it a couple more installments... but I'm just saying...

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Same for me...when Deputy Grimes went into the stairwell I flipped to the biography channel's umpteenth retrospective on "Halloween"; a movie so comfortable I never get tired of hearing about.

Jason said...

Speaking of dumb moves, how about that well publicized shot of our hero riding a horse into Atlanta, passing by all the abandoned rotting cars... in the outbound lanes? Why would you continue INTO the city when everyone obviously got stuck FLEEING it some time ago?

I understand that Deputy Grimes is supposed to be John Everyman, and that, since we the audience are supposed to be seeing everything through his eyes, his disbelief and naivete should mirror ours. But, at the same time (possible spoilers for people who haven't read the comics yet), you know Grimy will also inevitably be set up as Tent Culture Messiah, and that by letting that brand of naive and stupid be the moral compass for the rest of the series, everything is going to become so much simpler and the morality is going to become so much broader because of it. Despite him being the outsider and the unaware idiot (and prone to so many stupid, near catastrophic choices), everyone in that little community will gather around this Dim Center of the Universe, and then...

And then I don't really no what you can do with the premise of the show after that point where the little group of survivors comes together as a ragtag family. Where can they go? Can they leave and go wander around the zombie-infested Southern backwoods? What else can they do, besides stand around and air out inter-relational grievances? (I think the show blew any chance at relationship drama, too, by introducing Mrs. Grimy and Little Grimy in the first episode - they should have been the phantoms hanging over his head at least until episode 2. And we should have found out about Mrs. Grimy and Ponch at the same time Grimy did, since now we're left with two options: Either they'll play the "will she? won't she?" bait-and-switch for at least an episode, stringing the audience along with a bad soap opera plot point, or they'll introduce it and then drop it like it's a character/plot point that doesn't matter.)

In the end, it's a pretty looking show with some cool gore and zombie effects. On the other hand, the show is shot in HD and has some good set designers working on it - why shouldn't it look good? Nicotero and company have been making their living doing zombie make-up for years - why shouldn't the zombies look appropriately disgusting? Plus, the lead character is an emotional cypher, no one else is developed at all, and the story seems like it's heading straight for stagnation and little else. I don't think I can get all that worked up for the next episode.

simonsays2 said...

I was a little more patient with Grimes figuring the hospital stint took it's toll but yah - put some friggin shoes already. Kinda lost me there. Let's hope they sharpen his wits by the next episode.

Patrick said...

I really like the comic, but I wish they had changed a little to the gender dynamic (and the doofus sheriff hero, as said above). Plus, it's fricking 2010. Anybody – anybody – living in the Western world nowadays who wakes up alone, dehydrated in a hospital bed fricking knows there's an apocalypse going on, and chances are it's zombies.

And I would have loved to have been given some more indication into why Rick is our main character; not that he should be nicer, but quicker on the uptake or something. But I liked how he looked the former cop in the eye and shot him without flinching, and how he pretty quickly shot the zombie girl.

corym said...

I understand that Deputy Grimes is supposed to be John Everyman, and that, since we the audience are supposed to be seeing everything through his eyes, his disbelief and naivete should mirror ours.

The problem is we don't share his disbelief and naivete because every one us has been raised on zombie movies. I think that's why my feelings are kinda mixed. It's also why I think some of Walter's complaints are a little unfair. Is it stupid to walk down a dark stairwell? Sure... if you're a character in a horror movie. But aren't we supposed to be watching a real person who's unaware they're living a horror movie? In the same way, I felt the trip to Atlanta made logic within the show. Is he prepared for the enormity of the zombie infestation? No, but he thinks his family may be there and he has a lot of guns.

Still, I kinda wonder if you can even make a straight zombie movie after Shaun of the Dead.

John
Your totally right, Grimes' family shouldn't have been introduced so early. That whole scene was my biggest problem with the episode.

corym said...

Also, I am fail at grammar and letters.

Jason said...

And names, apparently. :)

Rick said...

I have not seen Walking Dead yet, but I was wondering what Jody Hill enthusiast Ian thinks of Eastbound and Down? The consensus seems to be that S2 has been average, but I have loved every moment of it. S1 reduces a woman to a pair of boobs, S2 reduces a woman to an ass, it has been such an attack on reducing women in this manner, how can people not love it? Plus add in some great throwaway lines and a remarkable comedic performance by Steve Little, you have a truly solid season. Pretty much standard in the mocking of arrogance, something about Eastbound and Down just feels above the rim to me.

corym said...

Jason

Damn. I might've had a mild stroke yesterday.

Walter_Chaw said...

How about the clock stopping and the spotty electricity throughout the hospital and the book of matches (?) at the nurse's station? I mean, a good friend of mine put it best when he said that stairwell sequence was the perfect example of a director wanting to shoot a stairwell sequence. Besides, doesn't Grimey know he's in a horror movie when he sees the half-eaten corpse in the empty hotel corridor? No? How about after the giant blood slick? No? How about the ghoul fingers and moaning coming from a door marked "Don't Open Dead Inside?". At some point, y'know, you're in a horror movie and if you don't figure it out, you pretty much deserve everything that's coming to you.

In a better 90min, Grimey get's eviscerated five minutes out of his coma. I thought a lot about the Crazies remake during the show - and how much smarter every single character is in that movie to another, similar, set of inexplicable events.

DaveA said...

Haven't seen the pilot yet - I'm waiting for the final verdict around here before diving into yet another series. Besides, I'm currently busy watching In Treatment's first season, realizing what a terrific actress Mia Wasikowska is. Walter already predicted superstardom, and while I didn't see her in Alice, I damn sure will see van Sant's Restless, although it looks like one of those pictures you'll take days to recover from:

http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/sony_pictures/restless/

Anonymous said...

Does anyone agree with me that the new BBC Sherlock is a piece of shit? Anyone?

Patrick said...

I enjoyed the first episode a lot, even though I wished it wasn't such a white male lovefest – I still like the idea of making both Sherlock and Watson women. But I thought they might be on to something, especially with the MORIARTY!-cry at the end.

But the second episode was horrible yellow-peril garbage, and the third episode fell apart quickly and also gave me the most awful casting choice I have seen for a long time in some young (white) yuppie being Moriarty, and with a generically bad ending, to boot. I agree, a promising series turned to shit within two episodes.

Justin B-H said...

Dunno if the supposed fixation with white males was really a problem, but agreed that the Chinese villains were way too close to Talons of Weng Chi'ang territory for comfort.

Patrick said...

The male thing is just a pet peeve of mine – it's most often not a problem of the specific text, but of the general trend. I have just compiled a working canon of blockbuster movies for secondary schools, and damn if I didn't have problems of finding suitable films with good female, non-white or even (gasp!) non-heterosexual or even more unconventional characters in prominent roles. I mean, Starship Troopers ended up as one of my examples to talk about gender.

Jason said...

Yeah, the new "Sherlock" was pretty spotty. Episode 2 would have been crap even without the yellow-peril villains making it really disgusting, and episode 3 was only okay right up until the Moriarty reveal at the end, whereupon it did a prompt 90 degree turn into "utter shit" territory. What the hell was up with Moriarty's voice, too? It sounded like the actor was trying to channel Heath Ledger's Joker and just managing to fail completely.

That said, I liked the two leads, and Steven Moffat gets a lot of leeway from me after all the good episodes of "Dr. Who" that he's written. I'm interested enough to see if things get a little better in the second season... and to see if they can write their way out of that ridiculous cliffhanger ending.

Maximilian said...

Yeah yeah yeah, the bump in tv coverage has been a welcome sight for sore, blistering, pussing eyes but motherfrakker, when will one of y'all step up, bite the bullet, and get crackulating on THE allegorical, metaphorical, docu-dramaderringdo of THE sci-fi mystical mumbo jumbo hulla baloo that was by far the epitome of Science Fiction TV of the aughts?

BattleStar Gallactica recaps post haste please!
Pretty please?

Patrick said...

So, I'll be the first to say it. Fuck BSG. It began good and all, but deteriorated season by season and, like Lost, if you don't buy into the cult, you wonder what's the hubbub all about. And don't even get me started on the final episode, where "the epitome of Science Fiction TV of the aughts" basically declared progress and sci-fi to be follies.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I'd like to hear Walter's defense of it, especially the horrible theistic ending of shit. (I feel that the series does peak early, with the short, amazing second season Pegasus arc.)

Also, Walking Dead Ep 2 was atrocious. Not sure if I want to watch any more - anyone know if the comic is any better?

Rick said...

I'm surprised that Due Date has a 39% on RottenTomatoes. The main complaint was that the characters were not likable enough. So?

Patrick said...

The only thing I disagree with in Anon's comment is that he didn't give a name; I mean, really, you can make one up, but at least then I can tell "Jellybean", "GreenMile51" and "NerdsSuck" apart instead of thinking of them as the anonymous masses.

But yes, WD 2 was bad, as in really.

Ian Pugh said...

I'm surprised that Due Date has a 39% on RottenTomatoes. The main complaint was that the characters were not likable enough. So?

Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes. I wish "there are no likable characters" would just fade out of the critical lexicon--at least, if it doesn't come with a vital question: "are the characters supposed to be likable?"

Jason said...

Have to agree with Anonymous and Patrick - "Walking Dead" episode 2 was fucking awful. Good Christ was it overstuffed, boring and borderline incoherent at times. And why waste Michael Rooker, who's usually pretty good, as a one-note white trash racist nothing character? Why even have that character there at all? What was the damn point, other than to give Deputy Dipshit TWO moralizing sermons in the same episode?

I will say this though, that bouncing CGI key was pretty funny. It was the moment where I gave up on this series entirely, but still... that's just so fucking stupid you have to laugh.

Anonymous - I've only read Vol. 1 of the "Walking Dead" comics, and it's really not any better than what we've seen so far. Better in the sense that most scenes are streamlined and less crowded, I guess, but it's still a boring, rambling, dumb-as-hell mess.

john smith said...

To Watch Movies Online is a best way to get entertainment next to your door watch movies online without any websites charges Free Movies Download