Dual review of ‘World War Z’: Views from a zombie newbie and from a zombie enthusiast

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world-war-z-reveals-an-official-logo-120430-470-75[SPOILERS] World War Z is a 2013 apocalyptic action horror film directed by Marc Forster. The screenplay by Matthew Michael Carnahan is based on the 2006 novel of the same name by Max Brooks. The film stars Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane, a retired U.N. employee who must travel the world to find a way to stop a zombie pandemic.

PJ – Let’s start off this review by stating one thing: I am a huge fan of the book by Max Brooks, and I walked into this movie with a huge negative vibe. I had an expectation that the movie would be a huge disappointment to me since the trailers and summaries all made the movie look and sound so different from the novel.

Well, I am happy to report that I was wrong. I found the movie to be very entertaining (even if it has less than nothing to do with Max Brook’s book.  In all honesty, I would have enjoyed this movie even more if it wasn’t called, or based on, World War Z. 

world-war-z-brad-pittWhat didn’t work? There were a few things that set off alarms in my head. Right after the initial release of the disease, the infected are attacking people in Philadelphia. They are jumping and leaping like tigers, tackling people and infecting them. Thoughts were running through my head. One was “oh no, is this a movie in the lines of the remake of ‘Day of the Dead’?” Luckily, the bad CGI and leaping infected did not last long. There was a huge dependence on CGI, but in the long run, it did not adversely affect the film.

One of the images from the trailers that really made me wonder about the film is the one pictured below on the right, The human pyramid of zombies that allows the infected to crest a wall seemed like an over-the-top measure to make the infected look insanely dangerous. In all actuality, the infected did not do this to overcome the wall in front of them; they were so enraged by the noise behind the wall that they attacked in a swarm. It was interesting to see how this was handled.

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One other thing that did bother me was the finale of the plot. In the book, humanity triumphs because we all learn that we have a common enemy. We must set aside petty differences and we must unite to save our species from global extinction. In the movie, this is not how it goes. Brad Pitt and scientists discover a method to “camouflage” humans from the infected. For me, this pulled some of the potential punch out of the movie. There was such an opportunity to provide a “humanity vs extinction and humanity wins” storyline, but this fell flat.

I’m not sure if you noticed, but I am refusing to refer to the “undead” in this movie as zombies. They are not zombies. They are more like the infected in 28 Days Later than anything else. While they do fit a couple of the tropes (shooting them in the head is the only way to kill them, their bite is infectious, etc), the running and leaping just threw them into another category.

What did work? This is one of the few zombie or infected movies that I have seen where the attacks are actually scary. I jump a few times and found myself on the edge of my seat the rest of the movie. The tension was ratcheted up perfectly, without any pointless attempts to garner jumps by using cheap scares. The look of the creatures added to the scares. The milky eyes and snapping teeth added an unnerving visual effect that truly impressed me.

The story itself, while not an actual part of the World War Z book, was intriguing and didn’t seem forced. So often in horror and zombie films, you find a plot that has more holes in it than actual linear content. Not with this movie. Working off of Max Brook’s zombie universe, the directors were able to create a story filled with engaging characters, human emotion, and an accurate portrayal of what I believe society would look like after any apocalyptical event.

All in all, I’m giving this movie an 8.5/10. I really enjoyed myself at this film and zombie enthusiasts as well as film lovers of all backgrounds should give this a shot.

 

Nina – It’s summer once again, which means that the world will be ending in one way or another on the big screens near you. I’ve never been particularly interested in apocalypses of a zombie variety, but World War Z trailers caught my attention. I was not disappointed.

The movie follows Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), who previously worked for UN, and his wife and two daughters. While waiting in traffic in Philadelphia, they find themselves right at the heart of some sort of outbreak which turns people into zombie-like creatures. This “virus” quickly spreads around the world. Because of his former job, Gerry will be asked to take part in an operation to try and figure out the source of the outbreak.

The movie does a good job underlining the contrast between the life of one single family and the  world crumbling around them. The story feels grounded in reality right from the beginning, with the normal day abruptly interrupted by unexplainable and terrifying events. The action kept me on the edge of my seat and the zombie attacks made me jump more than once. The destruction taking place in the cities looked very believable and no less frightening than the zombies. The many close-ups of the zombies were particularly unnerving, especially with such great makeup work and visual effects. I also liked the solution that was found at the end of the movie in order to protect what was left of humanity. Marco Beltrami’s soundtrack was very enjoyable, with a very fitting contribution from Muse as well.

The movie definitely succeeds in conveying the global scale of the events, with the storyline switching between multiple cities and countries. At the same time, the story remains grounded through Gerry’s family which brings genuine emotional quality to the movie. I haven’t read Max Brooks’ book and found the movie very entertaining as a separate work. World War Z is decent summer entertainment for zombie fans and non-zombie-loving moviegoers alike.

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