Random Movie (book!) Review: World War Z

To give a little background: I adore zombies. I’m not as big a nerd for zombies as one of my friends (who I think would find a zombie apocalypse to be the best thing ever), but I very much enjoy the creatures and the genre.

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This movie obviously isn’t the book, as the book deals with a lot of first hand accounts and focuses on those, where the movie focuses on Brad Pitt’s character, Gerry, and his mission to find PZ. This is an acceptable change for me. Trying to boil down the book and all it’s many narratives into a movie, I think, would have made the movie more disjointed than GI Joe 2, which got caught up in it’s 2-hemisphere, 2-story problem.

Onto the breakdown!

Trailers

R.I.P.D. looks interesting. At first I was skeptical, but I do enjoy Jeff Bridges playing a dead cop who looks like a blond, busty woman. Well, I just enjoy Jeff Bridges period. Despicable Me 2 using Eminem’s “Guess Who’s Back” (is that the actual title? I don’t know, and don’t feel like taking the time to Google) song always weirds me out. A children’s movie and Slim Shady really don’t belong in the same room together, in my own opinion. Odd Thomas also had a trailer, which I hadn’t seen before. Looks awesome!

WWZ

General and Epilepsy

Here’s an interesting thing, despite lots of gunfire, tons of quick, crazy shaky cams and cuts this movie did not affect me in the slightest bit. I’m not sure if that is because I had only just come from eating and it was a 1pm movie, so I was in a good point medicinally, or just because of the movie itself. The only part I might warn about would be a few early scenes involving flares, but there’s very little in the way of flickering or strobe lighting, and even the areal gunfire is done in a sort of distant way that lessens the power that the rat-a-tat-tat sound sometimes has on me.

That’s not to say that this is perfect for every epileptic out there, but I watched it in 3D (which I generally avoid, but it was the only English option for this theatre and film) and I still had no problems. I didn’t even come out of it with a headache!

The film is about (this is going to be a surprise!) zombies. Unexpected, I know. It gets even more shocking! It’s about a war of humanity vs. zombies that takes place all over the globe. I realized I’ve rocked your world with this revelation.

Gerry (Brad Pitt) is a retired UN something-or-nother that makes him awesome at on-the-ground heroics. His actual title is really unnecessary. To get his family to safety, he joins up with what is left of the US government (not much) and heads out on a mission to find patient zero, the origin of the virus, with hopes of finding a cure.

Technical and Actors

On the 3D note — I mentioned above that I saw this in 3D — it was pretty well done. I honestly don’t feel like the movie needed the 3D. It used it in the way it should be used, to add some depth to the scenery, but so much of the filming was in close quarters, as is typical with zombie movies, that the distance effect was really unnecessary. If you don’t feel some desperate need for 3D, save a few bucks and go standard.

The acting was solid, and subtle. For the most part everyone just fit so naturally into their roles (even on bicycles!) that I was never thrown out of the story by an odd reaction or movement. The only thing that got me was calling Gerry in in the first place. We know Gerry is important because he is Brad Pitt, so of course he is. And, of course, he was someone with the UN who was “on the ground” in a conflict or two. But for all that Gerry’s initial contact believes him to be worth every ounce of manpower necessary, no one else treats him like he’s anything special. In hindsight, I wonder why exactly was it that he was chosen, why they went out of their way to send him a chopper and risk military (wo)men and take on the extra burden of Gerry’s wife and children. Was there no one else? Seems unlikely.

But that’s all in hindsight. While watching, I didn’t really care.

Story:

One of the things I liked so much about this movie, is also one of the ones I liked about Zombieland. Movement. Travel. The traditional zombie flick (and books!) basically boil down to holing up somewhere with lots of guns and canned food. Trying to wall you and your people (and that one dude who happens to be hiding a bite, always one of those in traditional zombie stories) against the inevitable.  Those people exist in World War Z, no doubt, but we don’t stick with them. We stick with globetrotting Gerry, who is flying all over the place so that we see the zombie apocalypse and how people are dealing with it all around the planet. It’s what made the book awesome, and that is something I liked a lot in the movie.

There’s a supporting character met at about the halfway point, a female soldier, who I found extremely interesting. I wished that they developed her character slightly more. Gave her more focus, for all that she wasn’t a primary. It didn’t harm the story that she wasn’t, and it might have harmed the story if they had done, but I just find myself wondering … what about her?

Interesting to Note:

If you are into zombies (I love you), you might know of a book series called Ex-(…). There are two so far — Ex-Heroes and Ex-Patriots — with a third — Ex-Communication — coming in July.

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(Amazon.com, original cover.)

In the books, one aspect of the zombies is the way they click their teeth. Outside of the shelter (Paramount Studios in LA) millions of zombies surround them and click their teeth. The way it’s written in the book, the way it’s explained, the way it’s always there was always terrifying to me while reading the books. As it is meant to be, I assume. Here is a book trailer that features the sound as well as one of the characters, St. George.

At one point in World War Z there is some focus given to a single zombie clicking his teeth. It is unfortunate, I think, that many of the people in my theatre found this amusing. The girl next to me (who didn’t know how to shut her mouth, chatted the entire time) and a group of boys behind laughed through most of that whole scene. I found this depressing because the idea of the sound made by zombies who want to feed is really connected to the Ex stories. Hopefully if (when?!) an Ex movie is made, they’ll find that hundreds of thousands of these are a bit scarier.

I was also reminded of another reason I don’t want children. In an apocalypse they are both a physical and an emotional liability. I doubt I’d be able to save myself in such a situation, and there’s some comfort in knowing I’d die off quickly and not have to deal with all the extra BS. That would probably be more difficult to manage if I had offspring to worry about.

All-in-all:

I really really really enjoyed watching this. The pacing was excellent, the visuals fantastic, the acting good, the drama tense, the shocks surprising, and so on. I’m not sure if it’s my favorite zombie flick ever (oh Wild Zero, how I love you) but it’s put itself up there.

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