Monday, July 1, 2013

Horror Film Review

World War Z (2013):  Zombie flick!  Yeah, just a little.  Besides Evil Dead, this is the most anticipated zombie film of the...I was going to say year.  Decade is more like it.  However, if you're a fan of Max Brooks' novel on which it's based, you will be either disappointed or confused.  Why?  Because the only thing they have in common is the title.  The book is a socio-political commentary told mostly via exposition and flashback.  The movie...isn't.  Rather, it's is an unapologetic action flick that eschews any kind of societal examination in favor of eye-popping set pieces and edge of your seat tension.  Comparing the two is a pointless exercise so I won't bother.  It's a very good book.  And the movie?  OK...two things in common.

Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), former investigator for the United Nations, gave up the dangerous globe-trotting gig in order to stay home with his wife Karin (Mireille Enos) and two young daughters.  They're stuck in downtown Philadelphia traffic when a swarm of zombies descend like a Biblical plague.  To say these zombies are fast is to say Brad Pitt is somewhat handsome.  So Lane and family escape, just, and make it to New Jersey where after a few frightening encounters, they're rescued off a rooftop via helicopter by Lane's old UN boss and transported to a Naval carrier fleet off the eastern seaboard.  The military commander blackmails Lane into babysitting a Harvard virologist on a mission to South Korea where the best evidence suggests the outbreak started.  After some adventure there, Lane heads to Israel to find out how the Israelis could have known to build a massive wall around Jerusalem before the rest of the world knew anything about zombies.  His Mossad contact talks about rumors coming out of India but before he learns more, Lane's on the run again when the new wall is breached in spectacular fashion.  He and his army minder Segen (Daniella Kertesz) hitch a ride on a passenger jet just as the airfield is overrun.  Lane convinces the pilots to divert to a WHO (World Health Organization) facility outside of Cardiff, Wales after he puts together everything he's learned and has an idea.  Of course, there's a zombie (and soon, zombies) on the plane and Lane uses a grenade to open a door for them.  They crash, Segen and Lane make it to the facility, and then he explains his idea, which involves navigating through zombie-infested corridors in order to reach the vault where the world's deadliest germs are stored.  It's an interesting that could cost Lane his life.

The hype surrounding this movie had mostly to do with reshooting the ending because the studio folks didn't like the original, which I hear was a huge battle sequence in Russia.  Have to wait for the DVD to compare, I guess.  A couple of things about the zombies...I did like how they were given the characteristics of swarming insects.  It's a whole new level of creepy.  What I didn't like was how certain zombies behaved when in their dormant mode.  They were almost birdlike with weird cawing and clicking sounds.  Not very creepy.  My only other complaint is the oldest daughter character.  Why do they always have to have an asthmatic kid who's lost their inhaler in these movies?


Acting:  Pitt's just fine as is everyone else, really.  Kertesz is a stand-out.
Story:  The swarming zombies and the germ camouflage angles are unique and elevate it way above the norm.
Direction:  Marc Forster does an admirable job of keeping the narrative thread viable and, even more important, interesting as it winds its way through a series of crazy set pieces. 
Production Values:  The budget was just shy of $200 million.  That's Avengers territory.  Yeah.  The production values aren't bad.
Gore/FX:  Oddly, there is precious little blood much less guts.  The zombie make-up isn't terribly inspired but also isn't awful.  Needless to say, the CGI is nothing short of astounding. 
Scares:  I wasn't expecting any but was pleasantly surprised to find a few.
Ending:  Pure Hollywood. 
Verdict:  Should you see World War Z?  You should, yes.  What kept it from total perfection was the PG-13 rating and dearth of horror film carnage.  But it's damn close.

Rating:  4 out 5

1 comment:

  1. I would have loved it if they would have called it "Brad Pitt's Zombie Adventure". Calling it Works War Z was unnecessay.