You might be thinking to yourself, “Wait a minute – didn’t I already read Needless Things’ review of World War Z starring hunk-a-riffic Bradley Pitt?”
Yes, you did. But that was Beth V’s review. If you for some insane reason didn’t read it you can go do so now. It’s probably way better than mine anyway.
Okay - I’m not even sure I can write 1,000 words about this movie, but I’m all caught up for this week and I do think there is enough in World War Z for me to talk about. We’ll see, I guess.
Mrs. Troublemaker, however, had different plans.
We had both read and thoroughly enjoyed Max Brooks’ brilliant, epic, and unique novel. If you haven’t read it you should. World War Z is a fast, easy, and exciting read that you’ll get through in no time (provided that – unlike me – you have some sort of reading time available to you). It presents the overused and clichéd zombie apocalypse in a way that nobody else has, using the central idea of a reporter traveling the world after the primary outbreak and resultant global disasters. He is gathering stories from people across the world to document how it all went down.
The movie going by the same name does feature a dude traveling the world, but the people he interacts with have few stories and no depth. It’s all about the fact that Brad Pitt is just too pretty to die. And is also going to Save the World.
We ended up seeing this thing at the Movie Tavern because Mrs. Troublemaker is desperate to like a Big Hollywood Horror movie and I really like their boneless Buffalo wings.
It seems the missus is terribly dissatisfied with Hollywood horror lately. She hasn’t liked any of the horror moves we’ve gone to see very much and seems to always be let down by the ones she gets excited about. We both knew full well going into World War Z that it had nothing to do with the book, but I think she was really hoping that we might get a solid zombie flick. I did not share her confidence. But it was Date Night and seriously – Movie Tavern’s wings and fries are pretty darn good.
I’ll be totally honest here – I went in not wanting to like the movie. On a completely rational level I understand how Hollywood works, I appreciate that Max Brooks is getting a payday, and I knew it was entirely possible that the movie could still be awesome even if it didn’t borrow from the book at all. But on a much more emotional level I was furious that we weren’t getting a proper adaptation of such a brilliant work of fiction. I wasn’t fully aware of this until the movie started and I found myself hoping that Brad Pitt and his stupid family would get their faces eaten off by zombies.
The opening scene features a domesticated, world-weary Pitt making breakfast for his family. I didn’t feel one bit of emotion from the actors in this scene, but I don’t know if that’s their fault or mine. Pitt came off more like a nanny or weird uncle than a dad. It was just strange.
Oh, but before I get too much further, let me mention the awful techno music that popped up from time to time in World War Z. I found the entirety of the opening credits/montage depicting the initial outbreak to be almost unbearable thanks to some kind of mellow techno garbage that I think was trying to be sinister. It wasn’t. It was just irritating. And it happened a couple more times in the movie. It was composed and performed by Muse, who I think are a band (or programmer – whatever) that I’ve heard of. Apparently I hate them. I thought their music watered down the impact of the scenes it was used in and made the whole movie seem like some kind of weird infomercial that somebody like Bono would make.
So I found the opening of the movie intolerable and wasn’t liking the family too much. Not so much I didn’t like them as I wasn’t buying their family dynamic. But I was aware of these feelings as they were happening and I was afraid I was intentionally looking for faults in the movie. I tried to tone it down.
I don’t know if I was successful or if the movie just did such a good job of sweeping me up, but when the action got going I was totally in. For a while, anyway. Once Brad’s family gets caught up in the disaster that hits New York, the movie starts an exciting chain of events that doesn’t let up for maybe twenty to thirty minutes. I never actually cared about the Brad Family, but I was curious to see what was going to happen to them and some very exciting things happened to them for a while.
The zombies in World War Z are definitely among the scariest I’ve seen in a movie. While I dislike running zombies on principal, I like them for narrative purposes. And the running zombies in this movie are horrifying. Unlike other zombie flicks, these are not presented as individual threats like monsters, but as a force of nature like a fire or a hurricane. When they are chasing or attacking, you really get the feeling that these are non-sentient, undead beings that are utilizing every single bit of their physiology to infect and destroy; with no regard for their own limits or well-being. As a matter of fact, I’ve never seen zombies treated in quite this way. It made every zombie horde scene in the movie terribly effective.
Speaking of zombie hordes, I’ve also never seen the scope of a zombie outbreak represented so well. WWZ truly made me feel the scope and the horror of the situation. Watching as entire cities fell to the plague was actually dismaying on a level. As I was watching I really felt like this was how it would go down. Nobody would be making jokes or swinging weed-whackers around. We would all just fall before the wave.
While certain aspects of World War Z are very effective, this movie is no fun at all. It is a disaster movie, not a horror movie. It’s just that the disaster is zombies. Actually, now that I think about it this is a brilliant observation. Another factor that makes it not a horror movie is the almost complete lack of gore. There were several scenes where I was actually taken out of the narrative by the intentional obfuscation of a gooey moment. Whether it was a horde of zombies chowing down or somebody being forcibly amputated with a machete or just a good old-fashioned zombie head stompin’, there is an obvious and noticeable effort to avoid showing any kind of splatter. It was kind of irritating, but now that I think I get the movie a little more – the whole disaster angle – I think I get it.
Which doesn’t mean I think World War Z is a great movie.
It does a number of things very well – creating a massive scope for the plague, presenting a new and terrifying type of zombie horde, and the pacing is solid; the movie never lost me – but overall it just didn’t click for me. I never cared about any of the characters except for this one Southern military guy in South Korea that kind of looked like CM Punk. He was pretty cool. But overall I never cared much for anybody because I never got a sense of who they were other than that they were trying not to get infected or eaten by zombies. While I can certainly sympathize with that, it is hardly an interesting and defining characteristic.
3 out of 5
Having said all of that, WWZ is a visually spectacular movie that should be experienced in the theater. I highly recommend you see it at a matinee show. I don’t think the sheer scale will be fairly represented on the small screen.
This isn’t one I’m going to buy; and probably won’t ever watch it again. But I have to respect what the creators were trying to do. I get it. It just isn’t for me. Maybe this is the zombie movie my parents would watch.
Oh – I almost forgot the most important thing I took out of World War Z.
Riddick looks AWESOME: