Movie Review: WORLD WAR Z (2013)
Zombie movies are not just now a favorite genre of movies, but have been so for decades, spanning generations of cinematic history. 2013 sees another Zombie movie, but with a more dramatic and serious tone, in the highly anticipated WORLD WAR Z. Here is my Movie Review…
Blank Page Rating: 4.5 Stars Out Of 5
Wasting no time getting to the story, WORLD WAR Z sees a family of four caught in the midst of an outbreak causing massive chaos and destruction in all major parts of the world. Once they’ve reached safety, it’s revealed that people are being infected and becoming ravenous at an alarming rate, threatening survival of the human race. The introduction of the word ‘Zombie’ in the story is initially chuckled and laughed at by other characters, which is refreshing to see. At least no character tried to say it seriously with a straight face, causing the audience, instead, to chuckle. Major brownie points right there.
Ultimately, we find out that Brad Pitt’s Gerry Lane was a former U.N. Investigator who needs to escort a scientist to South Korea to find the origins of this virus, in order to find a cure. Lane basically gets blackmailed with the safety of his family to go on this mission, so he doesn’t really have much of a choice. However, the story really starts when this mission becomes more than what it’s supposed to be. Sound’s formulaic right? Maybe… but not so much.
WORLD WAR Z doesn’t really too much on a ‘from point A to B’ plot. Sure the initial set up is to find the origins of this ‘disease’, but it doesn’t stick to that, which is awesome given that the final resolution of the conflict in the story, is embedded within this philosophy. It’s even laid out to us by the scientist during one scene. This is what makes this movie engaging, that the audience is figuring things out, along with the character of Lane, as he tries to survive and end this frightening nightmare… while kicking Zombie ass of course.
The true genius of WORLD WAR Z is simply this: It’s an unapologetic Zombie movie, with all the concepts, scenes and clichés that make the genre so popular, with a sneakily well told story in the middle. It subtly embeds serious tension without melodrama, into action packed sequences of awesome Zombie moments, while still telling an engaging story. Focusing on the unfolding of a Zombie Apocalypse, and putting us right in the middle of it, is another way this movie sets itself apart from others, which usually feature the aftermath of such a global disaster. The music also reminded me of TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY, with it’s dramatic overtures as we saw cities overrun with the undead.
The Trailers of the movie make the story seem like it focuses on a family trying to survive Zombies. I initially suspected that this movie would be similar to WAR OF THE WORLDS, a family drama set against the back drop of Zombie invasion. However, the family angle is underplayed in the second half of the film, in favor of a full on story featuring the undead. It’s also surprising to look back and realize that there’s not a lot of gore in this movie, nor any scenes of graphic nature. This was really surprising, considering my biggest complaint with Season 3 of THE WALKING DEAD was having unnecessary gory sequences just for the hell of it.
Another by product of having little gore and blood is that Director Marc Forster is able to keep the scares very ‘pure’. Relying mostly on tension in the story, music cues and amazing camera work, the scare tactics in WORLD WAR Z may not rival a typical horror movie, but are enough to get you going. Forster is able to tell a riveting Zombie story without relying on Rated R elements, obviously with the help of some pretty decent Writers.
Damon Lindelof & Drew Goddard are 2 out of the 3 writers behind the screenplay, and they really do deliver with this. As most good stories go, the beginning perfectly aligns itself with the end, coming full circle into a cohesive thread that makes sense from start to finish. Another great thing about WORLD WAR Z is that it doesn’t try to squeeze too much out of its scenes or plot points. The scares aren’t dragged on, or too frequent. The deaths aren’t unnecessarily violent or explicit. The performances aren’t over the top melodramatic. For a Zombie movie, it might even be considered very restraint and even slow at times. However, the pacing works for the story, and it does a very good job at keeping things interesting, without a break neck speed.
Despite the intellectuality behind it, WORLD WAR Z is also chockfull of scenes that can simply be considered, ‘awesome’! Spoiler free recaps of these include: Zombie chopper attack, Zombie attack wall, not to mention the most awesome… Zombies on a fuckin’ plane! But more brilliant is that these scenes don’t come at the expense of quality of story, but rather drive them forward. The makers are also very wise to stay true to the Zombie culture, by including the staples of Zombie-ism; the creatures are attracted to sound, go ‘dormant’ without stimulus, and attack in overwhelming hoards. The originality here, would really be the resolution in the climax, which is a pretty new and unique way to solve a Zombie infestation threatening to overrun mankind.
Brad Pitt is aging, and it shows. So it’s great to see him playing a character that doesn’t do any over the top heroics. The character of Gerry Lane is an average guy, who’s been in extraordinary circumstances that may have prepared him for this, but it’s nice to be unsure about his fate, despite him being the lead. There are movies where the ‘hero’ survives incredible threats, and it’s obvious that it’s solely because he’s the ‘hero’ of the movie. WORLD WAR Z does this too, to a point, but there are brief moments, where his survival is in question. The writers are smart enough to put Gerry in just enough danger, hurt him just enough, for us to question where things will end up.
Ultimately WORLD WAR Z works on many levels. Mostly due to having an engaging story that fits the logical premise set up by the plot. By having elements that pay homage to, and even reference classic Zombie movie elements. With incredible action sequences that have just enough Zombies in them, used in enough innovative ways to satisfy even the toughest of critics. (Too much?) My consensus at the end of this is that the makers of WORLD WAR Z have legitimized the Zombie movie for a more serious audience, taking it beyond sub genre of film. I hope.