World War Z (2013 1 hr, 56 mins)
This pixie is breathing a sigh of relief. If you read my previous post, you will know that I don’t like my zombies messed with. No tip-toeing through the tulips with zombies please. Just keep ’em blood-thirsty, unthinking, and mean. Fast or slow-moving, doesn’t matter, but stick to the program. I am happy to report that World War Z has renewed my zombie fervour (even if technically speaking, these zombies are more of the “infected” types rather than zombies).
I’ve heard from a few people who reported World War Z is not what they expected. They read the book, and felt the film adaptation wasn’t exactly what they envisioned. I’m surprised I haven’t read this wildly popular book by Max Brooks, since I love a good zombie/survivalist story. From what I’ve heard, it’s an oral history of the world after an outbreak of a zombie-making virus. After seeing the film, I will definitely read it, because even though the film is great on its own, I want to get familiar with the source.
Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is a retired UN investigator who gets thrown back into action after a virus outbreak turns its victims into fast-moving, biologically driven biters. Lane witnesses this first hand during one of the best chaos scenes as he sees a man “turn” in 12 seconds after being bitten, making this outbreak almost impossible to contain. He is forced to leave his family at a U.S. navy vessel and help a young Dr. Andrew Fassbach (Elyes Gabel) navigate the world as they trace the origins of the virus in the hopes of finding a cure. Unfortunately, the doctor panics during a zombie attack in a decimated South Korean army base, and inadvertently shoots himself. Lane is now the only hope in finding a cure for the virus that has rapidly reached a world-wide pandemic.
I really enjoyed World War Z. It was filled with tons of suspense and action, and although Brad Pitt is not one of my favourite actors, he gave a pretty solid, quietly bad-ass performance. If you can get past the similarities to 28 Days Later, and also the feeling that the film at some points behaved like a video game, I think it’s a great summer horror movie. I liked the tone and scope of the film, as Lane moved from Philadelphia to South Korea, then on to Jerusalem and Wales. The pacing was great as well. Never a dull moment here, and the tension grew from the first frame as Lane and his family see the horror unfold during a seemingly normal traffic jam to the end as he races against time for the cure.
A huge kudos goes to the actors who played the zombies. I wouldn’t call them full-blown zombies, as they were really fast and reminded me of the infected from 28 Days Later. (I’m sure there is a zombie chart out there that classifies zombie differences such as speed, rate of decay, etc.) They played their roles with such blood-thirsty vigor, that most people in the theatre I was in cringed or giggled nervously. Yes people, I crawled out of my bunker and went to a movie in the theatre. In public. It was difficult, but the crowd exhibited proper movie etiquette and seemed to enjoy the movie as much as I did. Anyway, check out this cool article I found from the L.A. Times about a couple of key zombies from the film. The F/X makeup was brilliant and gruesome, and of course a great actor uses this as a tool to immerse themselves into their role, down to the chilling teeth clicking as the virus made them want to chomp on autopilot.
There were some familiar faces here too. James Badge Dale was gritty and dour as Captain Speke, who helps Lane out of South Korea. I will always remember him from the short-lived but much-loved AMC series Rubicon (which they should have never cancelled). Mireille Enos played Lane’s wife Karin and you can see her in another AMC show The Killing. David Morse has a great cameo as crazed ex-CIA agent, and Matthew Fox (of Lost fame) made a brief appearance as a parajumper on the navy vessel. I suspect his role was supposed to be bigger, but this production was apparently, um, plagued with problems like rewrites, going over budget and several cast changes. Despite these issues, I think the film was entertaining and worth emerging from your bunker, under your bridge, or out of your cardboard box to see it.
Most Memorable Line: The ill-fated young Dr. Fassbach proclaims that “Mother Nature is a serial killer.” He goes on to describe her wily ways and wanting to get caught at the same time. Interesting concept, and something to make us think as global resources dwindle.
Favourite Scene: At the W.H.O research facility. This is what reminded me of a video game as Lane has to navigate a maze of zombies to get to precious and dangerous ingredients for a possible cure. I loved the contrast between the stark, sterile environment of the labs sullied by infected, snarling zombies. Definitely a nail-biter!