Thursday, January 27, 2011

Go Ninja;Go Ninja; Go Ninja, Go

Ninjas vs. Zombies
Dir. Justin Timpane
A quick sampling of Ninjas vs. Zombies' execrable dialogue is pretty illustrative sampling of what’s holding this no budget farce back. To wit:
—“So we’re ripping off lines now?”
—“It’s an homage.”
Director Justine Timpane and crew set out to make the zombie flick Kevin Smith never got around to making in this bloodless attempt at a farce that substitutes references to Ninja Turtles and The Evil Dead, motifs borrowed from The Incredibles and tired nerd arguments about Star Wars vs. Star Trek and why Kingdom of the Crystal Skull sucked for character, plot or other narrative niceties.
All of that rhetorical circlejerking would have been excusable if Ninjas vs. Zombies lived up to the very simple premise it set for itself: ninjas kicking zombie ass. But it didn’t, so I was forced to dwell on the portly martial artists, community theater acting, lack of quality gore and Troma-quality production values. What we’re left with is yet another Shaunnabe about a trio of un/under-employed slackers rising to the occasion with the aid of magic when a friend sets off zompocalypse in a vain attempt to conduct a séance with his dead brother.

Zombology: Local comic book clerk Randall gets the undead uprising on a roll when he uses his family’s book of magic to raise his brother Eric from the dead. It's the same book of magic that killed his brother, so he really wasn’t thinking this thing through very well. Eric comes back all evil and with the ability to suck out people’s souls, leaving them mindless zombie minions to do his bidding. And with all that cosmic power at his fingertips, his bidding is getting back together with his ex, Lily, who has moved on to bald, unemployed cartoonist wannabe Cole. Cole’s universe is pretty much limited to doodling, getting dumped by Lily and hanging out with loser friends Kyle (a portly pizza delivery guy) and Fitz (an unemployed, married musician) until Randall’s book of magic gives them ninja abilities to fight back against the zombie plague.

It’s pretty fitting the climax of Ninjas vs. Zombies takes place in a movie theater because that’s just a reminder of the better movies this rips off and that you could be watching instead. A low budget doesn’t shouldn’t be a fatal obstacle to brash young filmmakers. Ryuhei Kitamura worked over much the same territory in the brilliant Versus. In fact, go watch Versus and forget Ninjas vs. Zombies even exists. Bad acting, spotty plotting, groan-inducing humor and backyard wrestling style combat sequences doom Ninjas vs. Zombies to a woeful 67 on the Hell of the Living Dead meter of moral failings.
Again, let me quote the film itself: “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard – ninjas vs. zombies.” I couldn’t agree more. I don’t think I could bear to sit through the sequel, Ninjas vs. Vampires.

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