Judge Patrick Naugle's bad knees are what make him a zombie prime target.
The city ain't big enough for the both of 'em.
A local senior citizen home is being threatened with foreclosure by a group of unscrupulous developers. When a few of the senior citizen's family members find out, namely Ray's (Alan Ford, Snatch) grandchildren Andy (Harry Treadway, City of Ember) and Terry (Rasmus Hardiker, Your Highness), they plan a daring bank robbery to gather enough money to help keep the elderly residents in their homes. What they don't plan for is the resurrection of the dead! As zombies flood the English countryside, the mischievous thieves and irritable elderly must figure out a way to get to higher ground before they become the undead's midnight snack!
It will come as a surprise to no one that Cockneys vs. Zombies will be endlessly compared to that other cockneys vs. zombies film, Edgar Wright's cult classic Shaun of the Dead. The two movies share a lot in common; both are set overseas, involve colorful characters, and feature the dead coming back to life and eating the living. I admit up front that I was comparing the two throughout. Though the stories and characters differ, the humor and general theme—zombies have taken over and the English make a lot of wisecracks!—are pretty much identical. Sometimes, it's hard to separate the dance from the dancer.
Since I'm comparing Cockneys vs. Zombies to Shaun of the Dead (fairly or unfairly as it may seem), I'll spill the beans: The former isn't as half as good as the deftly executed latter. One of Cockneys vs. Zombies main failings is that the characters start of as unlikable and are never able to endear themselves to the viewer. Shaun and his crew may be a bunch of slackers, but they were a funny, lovable lot. Most of the characters here are low class thieves or grumpy old codgers who swear as if they just walked off the set of Eddie Murphy's Raw. As a rule I don't have any issues with swearing, but it gets tiresome when it feels like a substitute for genuine comedy. The actors do decent work with their roles with the standouts being Rasmus Hardiker as a goofy looking bank robber and a growling Alan Ford as the cantankerous grandfather who uses the F-word more often than all of the characters combined in Goodfellas. The rest of the cast is rather disposable, sauntering through the story so they can either escape or become human tar-tar.
The effects work is sufficiently gruesome and, at times, cleverly original. One scene shows a zombie taking a bite out of a character's arm, and when the zombie is shot off, the jaws and half of the zombie's face is still left dangling from its victim's appendage. Okay, nice—I certainly hadn't seen that before. Most of the rest of the violence consists of the living dead getting their heads, faces, or arms and legs blown off with various weapons. The gore is often stylized and over-the-top, though if you're prone to being offended by a zombified baby being punted at an outdoor billboard with a target on it, this may not be your cup of Earl Gray tea.
Presented in 2.35:1/1080p HD widescreen in 1080p high definition, Shout! Factory's transger is great. While the overall look of the film is a bit muted, the detail isand a crisp. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is filled with directional effects and lots of gut munching surrounds. English subtitles are essential for non-anglophiles. Bonus features include two audio commentaries (one with director Matthius Hoene, the other with writer James Moran), a short behind-the-scenes featurette, a few deleted scenes, a trailer, and a digital copy of the film.
While Cockneys vs. Zombies never reaches the dizzying heights of Shaun of the Dead, it does contain a few moments of inspired lunacy. I did enjoy some of the visual gags, like an old geezer trying to get away from a zombie on his walker…both moving at approximately the same speed. There are also some amusing moments when the zombies and residents of an old age home clash, which is like watching a zombie movie in slow motion. While these sequences are fun, they also felt few and far between. Much of this is just mindless shooting and rampaging, which can become tedious after a while. Director Matthias Hoene (Beyond the Rave) is no Edgar Wright, and without Wright's specific directing touch, Cockneys vs. Zombies never transcends the clichéd material. Much like its zombies, the movie lumbers slowly forward, without much heart or soul.
Neither as scary nor as funny as the far better zombie movies cluttering up Netflix and Redbox.
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