Reviewer: A. Zombie
Rating: PG-13 (intense frightening zombie sequences, violence and disturbing images)
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, and Daniella Kertesz
First thing’s first, this reviewer is fully aware that World War Z is based on the novel by Max Brooks. However, seeing as they don’t give me any books—just stacks of movies to shuffle through—I haven’t read it. This review will focus solely on the merits of what was on the screen during the film. Nothing else. Now that the business portion is out of the way . . . have I mentioned how much of a pain it is to not only sneak into a theater without freaking out the humans, but also get a pair of 3D glasses to stay on when one of your ears fell off fifteen years ago in New Mexico? Let’s just say there was liberal application of duct tape in the moments before the lights dimmed and the film began.
World War Z starts off with disturbing news reports of a rabies-like virus sweeping over the globe. America is seemingly unharmed by this virus. Our hero, Gerry is happy to be at home with his family and not with his old bosses at the United Nations dealing with the mess. Then everything flips on its head. Gerry and family are caught in the middle of a sudden outbreak of the zombie virus. In seconds, Philadelphia is overrun with the undead. The family escape and Gerry is called in to help the UN figure out how to deal with the zombies. He’s sent to every corner of the earth searching for answers in unlikely places. In the end, it seems the world’s only hope stems from utter devastation.
The opening is slow, designed to lull you into a false sense of security while simultaneously feeding viewers information through numerous television news clips—the tried, true, and vastly overused method of plot progression available to the zombie film genre. This is of course after viewers suffer horrendous vertigo and nausea from the title sequence, which is designed to make maximum use of the 3D format. Essentially, you can get stuck in line for popcorn during the first seven minutes and not miss anything vital to the film’s plot. A zombie movie is a zombie movie, is a zombie movie. Anyone hoping World War Z would prove to be ground breaking and different in this aspect is fooling themselves.
That’s not to say once the action kicks in, the film isn’t interesting. The mechanics of the zombies alone cause a lot of heart-stopping, breath-holding moments, and even a handful of really well thought out scares. The zombies are fast. Obscenely fast. They have no physical limitations, easily leaping over two cars to take down their prey. Any reservations the person held alive are gone after death, allowing the undead to climb over each other, sacrifice each other in the name of sinking their teeth into something alive, or even bash their skull repeatedly into a car’s windshield in order to get to the gooey yummy treat inside. The makeup ranges from normal looking people covered in blood, to the hero zombies who were desiccated, rotting as they wait for fresh food sources. Two of the hero zombies in the final act of the film were by far some of the best zombies character-wise I’ve seen in any genre film. They were wild, uninhibited in their ferocity and sheer weirdness of undead traits.
Brad Pitt, despite reservations about an A-list actor stepping into a genre film, delivers a wonderful performance with the script he’s given. He brings to screen the only compassion seen from any character, really. Some of the supporting cast shine—most of the good ones don’t get nearly enough screen time. Other members of the cast failed to give a performance capable of making viewers want to see them survive. Isn’t that the point of being one of the main characters? We want to see you live, not listen to you whine, garble lines, and have little to no facial expressions. When a zombie has more facial expressions than the wife of the main character, a main character who’s in mortal danger, there’s something wrong.
What can be learned from World War Z? Duct tape is your best friend. Armor can be made from fashion magazines. The police are indeed people and cannot be relied on after the undead invade your city. And most importantly, if you’re not careful, a can of Mountain Dew could very well lead to your demise.
I’m going to give World War Z four severed hands, out of five. The epic scale of the film was hard to ignore—something genre fans haven’t seen since Romero’s Land of the Dead. Bypass the 3D experience, though. The foot chase scenes in 3D format induce headaches. Chewing on aching brains isn’t good eats. Think of the zombies waiting outside for a snack when you head to the theater.