5 Things I Liked (& Didn’t) About ‘World War Z’21.06.13 # Review # No Comment
When all hell (and the undead) breaks loose in downtown Philadelphia, former UN Investigator Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is called back into action to help find the source of the outbreak, and subsequently, a cure for what has been identified as a worldwide crisis. While his family are housed on a floating safe zone aircraft carrier, Gerry and a crack team of Navy SEALS and ‘humanity’s last hopes’ are sent to South Korea to begin the investigation. An adaptation of Max Brooks’ successful novel.
World Phwoar Z:
(1) It hits you straight away. Philadelphia traffic is halted by a slow building chaos as swarms of zombies smash through cars and engulf crowds of people. Director Marc Forster’s fingerprints are all over it – fast cuts capturing the turmoil and confusion perfectly.
(2) Modern zombie movies/tv shows/comics are constantly trying to innovate the mythology, or at least they should be. The types of zombies are pretty much divided into the ‘George A. Romeros’ (classic slow moving chomping idiots) and the ’28 Days Laters’ (rabid sprinting maniacs). WWZ leans more towards 28 Days Later, with a rabies-like pandemic. But they have an extra edge, are sensitive to sound and even go dormant when there’s nothing to snack on.
(3) Confined set pieces really work well. The action is always very quick and pretty intense. Lots of narrow hallways and stairwells make for some really exciting sequences.
(4) From Philly, to South Korea, to Israel, to Cardiff, it captures the scale and spectacle and scale of a worldwide pandemic very well. The effect on packed cities like Jerusalem to a desolate airstrip in Korea and an eerie Welsh countryside all teach us something new about the zombies.
(5) It’s always much better to see improvised weapons in horror, and that happens here once guns (or anything loud or destructive) become a last resort. Especially nice is Brad Pitt’s homemade cardboard body armour.
World War Zzzzz:
(1) Ironically for a film about saving humanity, humanity is the one thing it lacks. There’s nothing interesting about any of the living cast. Gerry’s a resourceful guy who’s worked in war zones all over the world, so you’d think he’d be an interesting character with stories to tell… There’s not even a decent reason why he gave up his job in the first place. To cook breakfast for his family? It just feels whenever there’s an opportunity to build character, it’s sidestepped.
(2) As much as I like to avoid off-screen politics, World War Z was notoriously subjected to re-shoots and a rushed rewriting of the entire third act, by two different writers. And it really shows. There is an unquestionable abruptness that does nothing to settle most of the questions.
(3) The problem with Gerry’s family being in a safe zone, is that they’re… well… safe. They’re literally just sat there waiting for him to call. Even when they are presented with what could be a pretty big problem; it turns out its fine. It’s too easy.
(4) There is an absolutely outrageous display of product placement involving Brad Pitt and a Pepsi machine. Unbelievable. Hilarious. Seen to be believed. Basically cans of Pepsi are at least partially responsible for saving the human race. They had to do something to rival Coca Cola’s ‘Friends’ campaign I guess…
(5) SPOILERS – Top marks for originality on the ‘cure’. I’m so sick of the cure for everything being the blood of a creepy looking kid. But it’s not really a cure, it’s ‘camouflage’ as Gerry says. Which doesn’t really solve much, Gerry. – END SPOILERS
In a weird way, you can’t help but feel World War Z is something of a benchmark in the genre. There are some great original ideas adding a lot to what’s become a very tired and drawn out genre. It’s an interesting mixture of horror and disaster, but with so much potential to be great it’s frustrating.
It’s an idea that should work, and on occasion it does, combining the intensity of the survival/horror genre with big budget disaster spectacle. From a purely aesthetic point of view it does achieve this, but it seems to have sacrificed too much. Survival/Horrors are driven by interesting, flawed, charismatic characters – everything Brad Pitt’s Gerry Lane is not.
WWZ created a very absorbing world and is entertaining, with some spectacular action sequences, but there’s a massive sense of waiting for something else to happen. It’s a shame really because it could’ve gone down as a classic, if it was not for such a hilariously ironic lack of humanity.