World War Z

Posted: 06/29/2013 in Movies
Tags: , , , ,

World War Z

World War Z

Zombies are a surprisingly versatile bunch. Of course, they’re rooted in horror, but they’ve also stretched out into zombie comedies, zombie romance, animated zombie family films, and now a big budget summer zombie action movie. Sure, the Resident Evil films are essentially action movies, but World War Z is the first bonafide zombie blockbuster, with tippity-top movie star, Brad Pitt. World War Z is very (very) loosely based on Max Brooks’ novel of the same name. (You  can read my review of the book here) About the only thing that the book and the movie have in common is the scale of the zombie epidemic. Zombies are everywhere around the world, and instead of following a small group of survivors, World War Z shows the worldwide collapse. The movie does provide some epic-level visuals, not before seen in this historically low budget genre. Pitt plays a retired UN investigator, pulled back in to active duty in order to keep his family safe on a disease-free aircraft carrier. He travels the globe trying to find the origin of the zombie outbreak and possibly a cure.

THE GOOD: With zombie movies, you always hear about the fall of society in the background, but WWZ shows it by way of Pitt’s globe-trotting. And a lot of it looks pretty awesome. So while that is pretty cool, I found that the best parts of the film were those that narrowed the focus, particularly: Pitt and his family trying to escape a Newark apartment building, an outbreak on a airplane, and the heroes navigating through an infested science lab. (Editor’s note: I’m from Northern NJ, in the case of a zombie apocalypse, Newark is probably the last place you want to go, in fact even without the zombies, Newark is probably the last place you want to go)

Plus, say what you want about Pitt, the guy’s just a great actor (if you haven’t seen 12 Monkeys, you’re doing yourself a disservice).

THE BAD: Say what you want about Pitt, his hair is awful in this movie. Get a haircut, hippie!

WWZ is rated PG-13. I understand the logic; you don’t want to cut out a substantial amount of money brought in by the teenage crowd. But what it means is that there’s very little gore to be found. I’m not a big gore-hound, but it seems like if you cut someone’s hand off, there should at least be a little bit of blood.

THE ZOMBIES: This might be a sticking point for fans of the book. The zombies here are a complete 180 from Max Brooks’ vision. While Brooks’ monsters are classic Romero slow pokes, the film has quick-changing, sprinting, vicious, climb on top of each other, super zombies. They’re much closer to the zombies of 28 Days Later than anything found in a Romero film. I personally don’t have a problem with that and found that the change made sense for the film, as it made it feel like this breed of zombie could definitely cause worldwide chaos very quickly. In the scenes of zombie attacks, it was difficult to tell human from zombie, which was a great effect. Again with the lack of gore, there’s not much gut-munching, and these zombies appeared more interested in biting to spread their disease than in making lunch out of anyone. Threat Level: 9

VERDICT: WWZ is a good movie and I walked out of the theater happy. However there are a couple of ways that I could see zombie-enthusiasts getting caught up here. (and they’re tied to expectations, which you should never have with zombie films, even when they carry a mega-budget) 1. WWZ is not the book. Don’t go in thinking it is. Max Brooks himself warned against that. I know people hate it, but I think it’s a good thing. When I read the book, I immediately felt like it would not translate well to film (ongoing cable series on the other hand…). 2. Don’t be fooled by the presence of zombies. WWZ is not a horror movie. Don’t go in expecting scares or buckets of gore. WWZ is an action movie through and through. Take it for what it is and enjoy it for what it is. Grade: A-

Current ZMN Rank: #13 out 114

Golden Zombey WatchBrad Pitt for Best Actor? Maybe, but is he any match for Scott Peat and Alexis Diaz de Villegas? I don’t know. I don’t know. Even though I liked the zombies, they may find themselves nominated for Most Bizarre Zombie Behavior with their ant-like zombie pile-ups.

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