Stunt Granny Movie Review: World War Z

World-War-ZOne thing I noticed about zombie movies is that they tend to follow a particular script – a small group of survivors in a relatively tight area dealing with the post-outbreak effects of a ruined society.  Although many metaphors can be and have been made (commercialism, group think, Darwinism, etc), it usually boils down to 6-8 people looking to find refuge from both the undead and their fellow man.   The zombies may follow different rules in regards to infection and movement; the quality may wildly vary – but the stakes normally remain the same.  And for better or worse, it’s been an enjoyable ride.

World War Z breaks those rules.  It’s not a zombie movie, so much as being a suspenseful action movie featuring zombies.  Unlike other films, it’s a true global movie, with an attempt to compare the differing attitudes and measures taken to combat a rapidly growing outbreak.  It also stands out in that it basically takes place during the actual outbreak, instead of focusing on the aftermath.  Unlike a typical zombie movie, it invokes its thrills and scares through tension instead of gore, and for the most part it’s moderately successful.

This is the type of movie in which common sense is rewarded, and idealism is brutally crushed.  This is a fast paced movie – within the first 10 minutes, the plot and stakes of the movies have been firmly established, with little fluff and less filler.  This is a film in which the main hero is told to assist in a mission to find the cause of the viral outbreak, or being thrown back into the wild, for better or worse.  North Korea decides that the best way to prevent infection is to remove the teeth of all its citizens, and presents this plan as rational and logical. A key character built up as a key to solving the zombie outbreak, is dealt with in a hilarious and shocking fashion. You will see zombies form a human tower to climb walls.  They will take down helicopters, and exist as an undead force of nature overwhelming any obstacle in its path.  These aren’t your Walking Dead zombies, or even your 28 Days Later infected humans with Usain Bolt speed.  These zombies are akin to soldier ants, beautiful and terrifying in its simplicity and tenacity. Above all else, the best way to describe World War Z is a superhero movie.

Brad Pitt may be described as an ex UN investigator with experience in hostile environment, but he basically plays a super hero. He possesses the ability to remember and process every important bit of information, and apply it in the most harrowing of circumstance.  For spoiler purposes, I’ll avoid going into detail, but there are scenes that will make you believe he is an android…that’s how effective his character is in dealing with an unbelievable situation.  This would normally be a deal breaker, but the film does a decent job in explaining these situations.  More importantly, Brad Pitt is effective enough in his performance to portray his character in a believable and sympathetic way.  Less sympathetic is his family – and by less sympathetic I mean that they could’ve died and it wouldn’t have been too much of a loss. Listen lady, if there is a zombie apocalypse, and they need your husband to combat it, then don’t be a wet blanket whining about keeping the family together.

Which lead to the primary flaw of the film- too many instances of intelligent people acting stupidly during the worst possible time.  There are multiple examples of this phenomenon…enough for people in the audience to start cursing at the screen.  It also suffers from “What are the damn odds” syndrome, where many implausible actions are required to achieve a goal.  However, these flaws aren’t game breakers, and in fact allows for enjoyment for the final act of the movie.  In addition, the ending is actually believable without being a deus ex machine, while also organically leading to future sequels.

I would recommend this movie, but with caveats.  I saw it in 2-D, and didn’t feel as though I was deprived of anything.  I didn’t read the book, so I had no comparisons or expectations in regards to the novel and its deviation from the source material.  It is not a gory film, although it is definitely a violent film.  Although it’s a global epic-scale film, it is basically a one man show.  If you can accept these factors, then you will enjoy this film.  Otherwise, go watch 28 Days Later or Dawn of the Dead.-Shahid

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