Monday, June 24, 2013

World War Z

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! The first zombie movie that I've seen that didn't make the zombie apocalypse look like a good time and, instead, an actual horrifying event. 

World War Z – 4 out of 5

I love the book this film is very loosely based on by Max Brooks. When I got it, I read it in one night and thought it would make a great movie. If you’re not familiar with the book, it’s about a fictionalized Max Brooks interviewing people who survived the zombie apocalypse and listening to their stories. The tales that are in it are extravagant, amusing, interesting and extremely diverse. It could have easily translated well to a film. However, for numerous reasons, the film adaptation bears little resemblance to the source material beyond the title…but, you know what? It wasn’t such a bad thing.

                                                                                                          Plan B Entertainment
Okay, there's a guy in the background who is clearly running towards the danger
everyone else is running from.

One day, while driving his kids to work with his wife Karin (Mireille Enos), Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) suddenly is forced to flee with his family in terror from flesh hungry monsters. A former UN investigator, Lane uses his connections to get himself and his family into military protection. Soon, he’s called upon those in charge to be the man to investigate where this zombie outbreak came from and, more importantly, how to stop it. Reluctantly, Lane agrees in exchange that his family be protected. Now Lane must travel the planet and find out what caused this outbreak and how other areas are dealing with the terror.

                                                                                                         Plan B Entertainment
Traffic folks, amirite?

World War Z went beyond my expectations. While I was honestly disappointed the film wasn’t like the book, I was already over it when I sat down in the theater because I followed the news of this film’s production and learned early on that the film would be like the book in, pretty much, name only. While it would have been cool to see a literal translation that is more faithful to the source material, the end product went on to be one of the best zombie films I’ve ever seen.

                                                                                                         Plan B Entertainment
I live in Wisconsin, this is a usual sight.  This is a shot of Packer fans celebrating, right?

Unlike most films about the walking dead, this film is very light on the gore and, shockingly, it doesn’t take away from the enjoyment factor. I’ve always been on the side that gore isn’t a necessity to a great zombie movie. To me, what makes a fantastic film that involves the shambling corpses, is a story that focuses on the hurdles the human survivors have to face and how they are going to live in a world that was so rapidly thrown upside thanks to an enemy that is, essentially, one of their own. The gore and seeing zombies eat the flesh off screaming men’s bones have always been an added treat. Being PG-13, World War Z shows little to no gore and I didn’t feel robbed by this. With a story that focuses on the global implications of a zombie apocalypse and the determination of a man to protect his family by trying to save humanity, it didn’t register with me that there was no blood and guts until the credits came.

                                                                                                         Plan B Entertainment
Stairs seems to be their weakness.  ED-209 must have been patient zero.

Like I stated in the last paragraph, the key to a zombie film to work for me is the survivors. So, to have survivors that you want to see make it, you need actors that can do their duty exceptionally well and characters that are easy to rally your emotions behind and are interesting enough to watch. I think WWZ did this fantastically.  Even the smallest character is eccentric enough to leave a lasting impression but never to the point where you think the actor is trying to be Helena Bonham Carter and ends up being a caricature and a joke. Most importantly, however, was the way Brad Pitt carried the film.

                                                                                                          Plan B Entertainment
In retrospect, that zombie probably jumped way too early to properly pounce on

Pitt is an unbelievable actor—let’s just face the facts. Other than being ridiculously handsome even when he’s scruffy, beaten and exhausted from running away from hordes of the undead, Pitt played a character that has all the makings of a hero but never becomes a man who should be sporting a long red cape. The character of Gerry Lane feels real. You see in him a hero who is doing what he thinks he needs to do so his family can live in a world where the dead don't rule. I would suddenly find I would get stuff in my eyes whenever he called his wife on the satellite phone while out on the assignment or whenever he thought of his kids. Pitt’s emotion he poured into the character felt palpable and it spilled off the screen. He wasn't your typical zom hero character, blasting molding baddies in the skull zone.  Instead, he was a human with nothing but a little nobility and a whole lot of guts.  If removing the gore from a zombie movie and adding some Pitt-esque emotion and heroism makes better zombie movies, I think we need to do this with ALL zombie movies.

                                                                                                         Plan B Entertainment
"I'm Brad Pitt.  My rugged good looks and incredible dramatic performances
will destroy those zombies."

Even the zombies were different than our usually monsters we’ve come to know and love. Many have made the obvious comparison that they looked and acted like the ghouls in I Am Legend but, while watching and understand the viewpoint, I didn’t see them as such. Sure, on a basic level, their appearances are kinda similar but watching the massive numbers and the way they moved was immensely interesting. They tweaked like a coke-addict on a bender of cocaine and caffeine and they swarmed like deadly insects that have nothing else to live for and have long forgotten to care about their own safety. Slow, shambling zombies are terrifying in big numbers and even the now infamous Rage Zombies from 28 Days Later are pants-fillingly frightening because the simple fact they can actually run your ass down but these zombies were scary on a new level…they simple didn’t seem to give a single fuck. When you saw these zombies chase someone down, they would slam themselves into buildings, trample their own kind and even leap off of rooftops to try and get to that tasty, tasty living meat. As they would do this, their numbers would grow and grow and, when you add in the fact that they give relentless a new definition, you have the makings for a spine-chilling enemy.

                                                                                                          Plan B Entertainment
I've had it with these motherfucking zombies on this motherfucking plane!

You can’t have a zombie flick without tension, suspense and terror and this one brought it to you in ways that kept it from being a collection of cheap scare moments. Director Marc Foster is generous enough to throw in a few “jump moments” when a maggot-filled walking cadaver comes leaping around a corner but he also orchestrated sequences that were tense on different scales. For example, when Lane arrives in Jerusalem and discovers that they were able to wall off the city before the outbreak started and were living fairly well…but, since this is a zombie movie, we know that won’t last. When the shit hits the fan, we see terror on a grand scale where rapid crowds of zombies move like locusts through the people and Lane must try and climb the insurmountable mountain of decaying flesh to escape. Or there’s the part where Lane and two others are forced to get all Sam Fisher over the zombies asses and sneak around an infested WHO building. The movie refuses to deliver tension in a monotonous, routine way that we usually see in zombie films. Instead, we get a film that will go big, get bigger and then take a sudden turn and make the tension smaller, more localized and claustrophobic.

                                                                                                         Plan B Entertainment
"This axe will help us...I'll just give it to the zombies as a present and maybe
they'll appreciate it so much they'll leave us alone!"

And this brings me to my favorite part…

This is the first time I’ve seen a zombie apocalypse film that truly felt like a world-wide epidemic. With all zombie films, it’s always explained that the world is now owned by the undead but the stories will always focus on a small group of survivors in cities and surrounding areas that look like Philadelphia (thanks for that industry standard, Romero). World War Z bucks that tread and we see, hear and experience how the world is dealing with dead bodies getting up and gushing with an appetite for living flesh. This film wasn’t just a dozen people in an abandoned city trying to find supplies and get to some semblance of safety. Instead, we see the various ways others are dealing with this problem and none of them feel like the same thing we see in all other zombie films.

                                                                                                          Plan B Entertainment
Hey, they look like ants from up here.  Horrible, decaying ants that will eat you alive.

World War Z went way beyond what I was expecting and I really enjoyed it. It was unlike any zombie movie I had ever seen and it didn’t fail to entertain. From beginning to end, the movie had me glued to its story and the journey of Gerry Lane as he put himself in harms way to protect his family and help world overcome this problem. I liked the way they made the zombies a threat on a level I’ve never seen before but I really enjoyed that this was the first time I’ve seen a zombie movie that really was on a global scale. It was so addicting that my only real complaint is we don't get to see enough of how other areas of the planet were dealing with the outbreak.  While it would have been very cool to see a straight adaptation of the book (if you get a chance, get your hands on the audio book. There’s some great actors lending their voices in that one), the final product is, plain and simply, epic!


  1. I'm right there with you. Once you get over that the film makers probably never even READ the book, let alone followed the content, turn off the brain and enjoy. I had a lot of fun.

    Nice review, dude.


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