July 4, 2013

World War Z (2013)

(aka Brad Pitt Saves the World)
Release Date: In Theaters now.
Country: USA, Malta.
Written by: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard, Damon Lindelof and Max Brooks.
Directed by: Marc Forster.
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale and Fana Mokoena.

"Attention: The new Brad Pitt zombie apocalypse actioner, World War Z, DOES NOT SUCK. I repeat: World War Z DOES NOT SUCK."

The preceding was an announcement of the Surprised as Shit Broadcast System ... and trust us, we're definitely surprised as shit.
Max Brooks' novel, World War Z, was a brilliant little piece of document fiction that kept us turning the pages late into the night. When it was over, we were pissed, because we wanted more.

When it was announced that a feature film version was in the works, and that it would star uber-mega-ultra-star Brad Pitt, we were ecstatic... right up until we found out that it really wasn't going to follow the book at all, and just do its own thing. From that point on, not a shit was given by us about this bound-to-suck book adaptation, because they ruined what could have been a brilliant piece of cinema.

If you haven't read the book, you really should; it's basically a bunch of survivors accounts of what happened to them and the world during the Zombie Apocalypse known as "World War Z." Lots of different characters get their own chapters, and they all tell some pretty different stories, all of which are compelling as hell. It was a great read.

We always thought that If they were going to try to make a novel like that into any type of filmed project, that it would work best as a mini-series on HBO, using the mold of Band of Brothers (another work of brilliance that you should experience, if you already haven't.) At the beginning of each episode, you would have the people who survived the horrors of the Zombie Apocalypse, talking about what they went through, and then the episode starts, showing you their stories. Hell, you could have made two 10 episode seasons out of the material in that book, and it would have worked perfectly.

"Oh. Yeah, I guess we could have done it like that..."
As it turns out, they deviated in a big way from the source material with this movie. Sure, there's a worldwide Zombie Apocalypse, and Gerry Lane is still the main character... but that's just about where the similarities end. To make things even worse, this radically different WWZ film production was plagued by a seemingly endless amount of issues such as delays, cuts, re-writes, re-shoots, and just overall mayhem. Filming was even shut down by the Hungarian Counter Terrorism Centre, due to producers bringing nearly 100 fully functional weapons into the country, which turned out to be a pretty big no-no.

From the beginning, WWZ seemed to be a production that was doomed to fail.

That's why I'm truly surprised, and genuinely pleased, to say that World War Z was a pretty fun flick that did its job well. Sure, I really wanted to see the personal stories in the interview format that made me love the book so much, but I suppose that sort of thing isn't really feasible for a summer blockbuster, and a blockbuster is what Paramount wanted.

As it turns out, a blockbuster is exactly what they got.

Here we see audiences clamoring to see WWZ on opening weekend.
Zombie Apocalypse has broken out all over the world, via viral outbreak, which means that it should really be called the Infected Apocalypse or something, because the word Zombie speaks to dead corpses re-animating and rising from their graves... but I guess those rules have changed since the heyday of the Romero Zombie, and so must our perceptions change too. (I'm only pretending, I still think it's shit.)

Anywho, Zombie Apocalypse is in full swing with swarms of feral, ravenous undead out to pass their Zombie Virus on to the living, and it's up to Brad Pitt to save humanity. He's got a sharp eye, you see, and a keen investigative sense that makes him perfect for the job... the job of trekking across the globe and narrowly escaping death at every turn, while everyone else around him just dies horribly. He pretty much gets a lot of people killed.

Let's just sum it all up and move on, shall we? "Brad Pitt traverses the globe trying to find patient zero, and thus a cure for the Zombie menace that is consuming the world, all while his wife and kids sit on a boat, waiting for him to win the war and come back home." That's all you really need to know, isn't it? I mean, this isn't frigging Taming of the Shrew here, folks.

Enough with the brooding close-ups, Brad Pitt, move your ass!
If you put the WWZ book out of your mind and just take this movie as nothing more than another new Zombie/Infected flick, then it absolutely delivers the goods... in most respects. The Zombies are voracious and feral, and the threat they pose to what remains of humanity comes across as pretty terrifying. We feel for Gerry and his wife, and we root for them to survive this global killer, even though the odds seem insurmountable. WWZ does a good job of making things seem hopeless for humanity, and we can't help but share their despair throughout.

The scale and scope of things in the movie is just massive, which I find to be pretty interesting; there's an aggressive global pandemic which is feverishly tearing its way through humanity on a massive scale, and yet everything feels so claustrophobic and confined. Maybe that juxtaposition is why the movie worked so well for us; as massive and sprawling as the world is, there's just no safe place to go. That is a truly terrifying concept to mull over.

Overall, World War Z was fun and made more out of its parts than I thought it ever could.

The locales in WWZ looked a lot like Detroit at times.
As fantastic as the WWZ novel was, we can't help but be a bit let down by the fact that this movie has almost nothing to do with it, aside from its title and a few shared characters. Had they stayed faithful to the book and opted instead to turn it into a more faithful TV mini-series instead of a film that was loosely-based on the source material, it could have been an all-time great. It's sad to know that we'll probably never see Max Brooks' novel brought to the screen in the way that it deserves to be.

What we did get was pretty shiny though...
 
It needed to be longer. The movie did a great job of sucking me in, and despite its flaws, held my attention the entire way through... and then the resolution showed up, and it ended rather quickly. The "Lab" sequence towards the end needed to breathe a bit more, and the wrap up could have been more than Brad Pitt reuniting with his family for all of 2 minutes during a voice over. Like, where did Segen go? She was a great character, and she just kinda disappears at the end. I'm personally big on post script, and in a movie like this, they could have given us a bigger, more globe-spanning post script that didn't feel so rushed and tacked on. The ending was just too soft and lacking, and it left us wanting something more.

Yeah, kid, we know.
Despite its PG-13 rating, this movie is nothing but people dying and zombies being shot in the head, so we still get plenty of bloody action. I would have really loved WWZ to have been R-Rated, because we believe that Zombie flicks should always push the boundaries of visceral taste and vulgarity. Still, it delivers the gore in its given form.

... then who was phone?
If you could imagine an amped up version of 28 Days Later that occurs on the world stage, and on a vastly bigger scale, then you can pretty much imagine what to expect with World War Z. It's tense, harrowing, and even terrifying in parts, and it's a solid addition to the Zombie/Infected movie pantheon.

Just don't show up expecting to see anything from the book, and all will be well.

Of all the summer movies to have been released so far, WWZ stands as one of the most exciting of them. It's definitely worth a watch, and we'll be picking up a copy when it hits Blu-ray sometime this fall.

B+

Mireille Enos always seems to play characters who often times appear to be plain, or even homely... which is apparently an act of clever deception on the part of producers, and maybe even a testament to her chameleon-like abilities as an actress, because she is one hot little ginger.

4 comments :

  1. It was well made, I give you that. However... (and you knew I was going to "however" the hell out of WWZ) do all the characters that are even slightly built have to die? "Oh, hi, Brad Pitt, let me tell you who I am, where I came from, what are my fears and hopes. Now bye, I have to be Rakshasa food!" And they did it at least three times, if you don't count Segen at the end.

    I left the film not knowing if I liked it or not. I still don't know...

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  2. First review I've read of this movie that I really agree with. Too many people WANT to hate this movie and make up their mind before seeing it.

    Is it the book? No. But get over it people, and give it a chance. Just because Brad Pitt is in it, doesn't mean that enjoying it makes you a sellout or something.

    People are lame.

    This review, was not lame. It was awesome. Good work!

    http://www.zombiehall.com/2013/06/world-war-z.html

    I especially agree that it was too short. Let the story breath a little!

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  3. This is one of the best and most honest reviews I've read yet. Great job! I agree with most of everything you said, including your rating.

    Really liking this page man, I just followed you. I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future!

    If you wanna chat horror films, swing by my page.

    http://grimmreviewz.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  4. Will definitely swing by, Grimm, and thanks.

    We were part of that "wanting to hate it" crowd Kev D., but it won us over. Hate something if you want, but I don't like blind hate. It's jsut not fair.

    ReplyDelete