World War Z: Is It Worth Your Money?
World War Z isn’t the movie you think it is. At least it wasn’t for me. I saw the trailer for this movie and thought, “Ok, this movie is all lame CGI action and no story.” Needless to say at this point I was wrong. Now, I’m not going to jump out and say World War Z was a great movie, but I will say it’s not bad.
Directed by: Marc Forster
Written by: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard, Damon Lindelof
Starring: Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane and Mireille Enos as Karen Lane, James Badge Dale, Matthew Fox, David Morse, Ludi Boeken, Fana Mokoena, Abigail Hargrove, Sterling Jerins, Daniella Kertesz, Fabrizio Zacharee Guidoas
World War Z was originally set for a December 2012 release, but the production suffered some setbacks including a poor script. The film’s release date was pushed back and the crew returned for seven weeks of additional shooting. Damon Lindelof (writer from Lost) was hired to rewrite the third act, but did not have the time to finish the script and Drew Goddard (also a writer for Lost) was hired to rewrite it. Can you say nepotism?
Brad Pitt plays Gerry Lane, a retired UN Investigator who is forced back into action when a mass pandemic threatens all of existence. Although not happy about it, Gerry travels across the world trying to figure out where the disease comes from, and in turn how to cure it. While there is a fair amount of action in this movie (good action at that), there is also a lot of good drama. I wouldn’t really call this movie a horror, instead it’s more of an action thriller, heavy on the thriller.
It’s hard to hate this movie when I went in expecting so much worse. It’s hard to even talk badly about it, but I will. I find nothing more insulting in a movie than flagrant product placement, and while this movie was rife with them, the most disturbing is when Brad Pitt takes a second to refresh with an ice cold Pepsi instead of running from zombies. Also, there was the occasional lame duck dialogue. In fact, the majority of the movie was entirely unbelievable. The worst part may be that the ending is actually so ridiculous that it’s insulting. I know, I know, this is starting to sound like a pan. I assure you this movie is watchable, and enjoyable. Mostly because of Brad Pitt’s amazing ability to play interesting characters. Want to argue that with me? How about Tyler Durden in Fight Club? David Mills in Se7en? Jeffrey Goines in Twelve Monkeys? I could do this forever but you know when you look past Pitt’s unlikable face you see he has played some of the greatest roles of the last 20 years. I’m not saying Gerry Lane is going to make this list by any means, but you can see hints of the genius at times during this movie. In addition, it’s genuinely entertaining, and fairly well directed.
Overall if you can wait till it’s out on DVD, wait. The 3D wasn’t amazing. If you’re bored and want to go to the theater then go see World War Z. It’s sorta worth your money.
OVERALL RATING 6.5 OUT OF 10
I was lucky enough to screen this movie with two very talented writers, Becky Hansen and Michelle Kilmer. Twin sisters who write Zombie fiction. I asked for their point of view on this movie and have posted such below. I figured who would better be able to judge this movie than these talented authors?
Co-author, The Spread <—Read my review of the spread here!
I have always appreciated the different and sometimes strange ways in which one has translated the zombie plague, how you could become infected, how to stop a zombie, or even how to hide. World War Z had me thinking about much of this from the beginning. What was behind this ‘infection’ and what decided how it interacted with those it came into contact with? Full of action and intense moments of survival (or lack thereof); World War Z put a smile on my face and moved me to the edge of my seat on more than one occasion. A hint of comedy helped the film from becoming too cliché. The ‘this is it and we are all screwed’ was very much apparent but at times, unexpectedly, there was still a little light at the end of the tunnel. I went in with no expectations and came out wanting more. I would give World War Z a solid 7 out of 10.
Author, When the Dead
I went into the theater with a plan: no preconceived notions, no expectations, only hoping for a great movie. And when I look at my list of poorly written notes, I think I ended up seeing a fairly good one. Maybe it helps that I never finished reading the book (gasp!).
World War Z starts with a quick introduction to our main characters, a family of four led by the thinly-bearded, gracefully aging Brad Pitt and Mireille Enos (of The Killing). My favorite thing about the movie is that there is no time wasted on getting to the chaos. Very soon after the opening title screen we are watching unsuspecting citizens meet an apocalypse head-on, and an intensely scary apocalypse at that.
Some of the early criticism of the movie, after the trailer surfaced and spread across the internet, was that the zombies were too different from what we’d expect to see: ant-like in their ability to work together, faster than Usain Bolt, building wall-scaling towers with their bodies. Surprisingly, I found them palatable, accepted by my “fast zombies aren’t realistic” point-of-view. The reason? I’ve mentioned it on other blogs. THEY ARE SCARY AS HELL and you have no time to plan an escape. They force you to literally think on your feet as you run down the streets looking for a place to hide. And besides, there are no set rules when it comes to the undead. The genre continues to change and the concept of runners makes for a terrifying ride.
I have some qualms about the quick descent though too and, in fear of giving scenes away, all I’ll say is that some things just aren’t going to happen on Day 1. Especially with a plague that is spreading so insanely fast outside.
The beginning of the movie also shows us a couple that is equally strong and skilled at problem-solving, a real team. Mirielle’s character, Karin, isn’t outshined by her husband. She is right there with him, helping her family survive. Being a fan of Enos, I only wished she had a more prominent role throughout the movie. The writers devolve her into a stay-at-home mom, racked with anxiety and desperate to hear from her husband at all hours. Granted, Mirielle Enos’ face does “worried” well.
With possible nods and scenes seemingly inspired by (or accidentally similar to) Dawn of the Dead (remake), Dementium: The Ward (video game), and even what could be seen as an amped up version of the Silent Hill nurses, WWZ still had some very original content and great zombie makeup. I would have liked to see more close ups of the infected but I think the PG-13 rating had something to do with the overload of overhead shots from helicopters.
This movie made me cringe every time someone made too much noise. Near the end I was reminded of Jurassic Park’s T-Rex and velociraptors and the daunting task of getting past them. Which brings me to this point: screaming children are your death when your enemy is drawn by noise. So teach your children how to scream inside in case of zombies. Silence is really effing golden.
Things I liked:
– Light sprinkling of comedic moments
– The frank discussions about “zombies”
– The intensity of the majority of the movie
– Moments of tenderness from strangers helping one another
Things I didn’t like:
– PG-13 rating means less gore
– Characters get groceries only to lose them (overdone and then grocery scene loses some of its importance)
– The 3D version could have utilized 3D more (but that is usually the case)
– For a fairly high-budget movie, some scenes seemed poorly shot, too quickly pulled away from or cuts to unimportant shots
Favorite quote: “Mother Nature is a serial killer”
All in all, World War Z is a fast-paced, globe-spanning movie that makes you say “wow” and “oh shit” and begs the question: how do you find patient zero when the entire world is infected?