World War Z

Billion Undead

         
 

21 June 2013| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

Throttles you right into the dread and mass panic, and never rests. World War Z has better than expected special effects to depict the worldwide pandemic, and creates a sturdy, dignified hero out of Brad Pitt. You should feel smacked silly by the zombie genre by now, but director Marc Forster (“Monsters Ball,” “Quantum of Solace”) has crafted a realistic red alert approach to the material. After the swarm of B-movie zombie movies of recent years, it’s cathartic to see this genre get played out on an entire global scale.

Pitt is Gerry Lane, who carries himself like an ordinary family man but turns out to be a credible ex-United Nations investigator. As much as I enjoyed the doomsday adventure “War of the Worlds” movie (for its disaster and destruction detail), I never cared for the fact that Tom Cruise wasn’t playing… anybody special. Gerry Lane, with tons of constructive survival skills, actually is important to the world’s final outcome. His wife Karin (Mireille Enos) is no dummy, and neither is U.N. boss Thierry (Fana Mokoena). The kids are feckless, but besides crying over a dropped stuffed toy once, they’re not bad.

“Z” is mostly a visually visceral experience, although I was least impressed by the night-and-rain photography in the South Korea scenes – a bad directorial choice too drenched in muckiness. But the adventure rebounds in Jerusalem where Gerry is to have a summit with enlightened minds. Here’s a working city, that’s not America, ushering in survivors in droves. If you don’t rescue survivors, you will just have more zombies to fight later, is the thinking. A wall has been built around the city to keep the zombies out, but collectively they scale the wall and begin a new outbreak – the scene is fierce and raging enough to get me to forget about the CGI (which is less noticeable than usual).

The exodus of Jerusalem is terrific and exciting, with Gerry and the best remaining fighters catching another plane out while a horde of undead run from behind. “Z” has already taken us to several countries, but in a movie like this the central players have to arrive some place where medical inoculation, i.e., progress can take a stand. When they land at the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) in Glasgow, Scotland, I counted quite a few similarities to Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 film “Contagion” when it came to find-the-vaccine plot complications, but the Max Brooks written “Z” horror novel actually was published in 2006. It’s all good, the both of them, as long as each one makes their own persuasive sense.

Much of the movie gutted large portions of the Brooks novel, and for as bright as the movie is the language feels a tad simplified for international ticket sales. Novel purists will snap over such fine details. The movie feels made more for non-readers of the book, the mass consumers. The studio panicked enough during production when the budget skyrocketed from $125 to $200 million pre-release. So unlike smaller budget zombie ditties, this one has to catch worldwide box office fire. “Z” is not likely to be the apocalypse for the genre – it should blow up a handsome profit – and for its better merits (leave book comparisons out of it) ranks towards the tops for the zombie film genre. My choice: I’m still hip on George Romero’s 1978 “Dawn of the Dead” as my supreme favorite.

115 Minutes. Rated PG-13.

THRILLER / CREATURE FEATURE / FRIDAY NIGHT BLOCKBUSTER

Film Cousins: “Dawn of the Dead” (1979); “Dawn of the Dead” (2004); “28 Weeks Later” (2007); “Contagion” (2011).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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