Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Let's Review Something: World War Z

When I saw the trailers for this film it looked like one giant explosion after another with massive hoardes of zombies at every corner and Michael Bay ooze all over every frame.  In fact, I really had no desire to see the film at all, despite the fact that the source material was said to be an inspired work.  When news broke that the film didn’t really follow the book, it kind of solidified in me a reason to stay far away, and then the film itself was delayed (which is usually a bad sign) and with my wife opposed to all things zombies I didn’t have to worry about her Brad Pitt obsession to force me into a theater.

I wish that I had seen this on the big screen.

Yes, despite no real desire to see this at all, friends talked it up and so I wound up renting this the other night and I have to say, I loved this.

Like, a lot.

It takes something special for an action film to win me over in this way.  Yes, I enjoy the genre, but most of the films that come out of it are so generic and formulaic and redundant that you need only see one or two of them in a year, despite the fact that a good fifty are made each year.  They just keep coming and coming.  Zombies are all the rage now, but I have yet to see a single episode of ‘The Walking Dead’ and the last great zombie film I saw was Boyle’s masterpiece ’28 Days Later’, and that was way back in 2003.  Needless to say, I wasn’t anticipating much from this, even with my friend’s heavy praise.

Where ‘World War Z’ succeeds is in the staging.  I brilliantly makes this more than an explosive mess of chaotic jump scenes.  Instead, it balances out the action with true suspense, keeping the audience in true fear, not manufactured terror.  I can’t stress enough how rewarding this was.  I prefer a film that can get under my skin as opposed to one that throws everything in your face, and this film’s laboratory scene is one of the scariest in recent memory.

The film follows an epidemic that reaches global proportions and threatens to wipe out the world.  Gerry Lane, a former UN employee, gets semi-forced back into service when a young kid with a bright idea needs a transport to Japan.  Things get muddled and soon Gerry finds himself mankind’s only hope (sort of) so he travels the globe in search of the answers to stopping this disease transforming the world into undead.  

Yes, there are some really big scenes here.  There are some breakneck paced sequences that show countless zombies racing down streets and clambering all over one another in order to feast.  They slam into buildings and cars and tear into flesh and they basically clutter the screen.  But those scenes are not what ‘World War Z’ is about, at least not entirely.  There are many softer, smaller, quieter, scarier scenes that make this a very strong addition to the genre.  The plane sequence is breathtaking, and I already mentioned the lab scene, which is the best in the film.  The character development is minimal, but I like that the film doesn’t shy away from taking a harsh approach to the situation.  The ending could be deemed a cop out, and yet it is a lot better than magically curing the world. 

In fact, this film kind of reminds me of what would happen if you took Boyle’s ‘28 Days Later’, fused it with ‘Contagion’ and gave it a glossy, Michael Bay, veneer. 

In other words; this film is VERY entertaining.

I give this an A-.  It far surpassed my expectations, and for the genre itself it is one of the best you can get.  Oscar could bite here, and quite frankly it deserves notices in a few categories.  The Sound quality here is remarkable and adds to the atmosphere, and Beltrami’s score is brilliant (even if it does borrow from the ever-familiar ‘Inception’ score).  The visuals are far more effective than the trailer suggested (they looked so raw and fake) and the zombie makeovers are remarkable and deserve a Makeup Oscar!


  1. It's definitely entertaining, but it felt like the thrilling sequences were given more service than the characters. I wanted something more from it, despite some great scenes. B- for me.

    1. I can see that. I look at these things from a genre perspective, and from that angle, this succeeded marvelously for me.