Saturday, September 21, 2013

Movie Review: World War Z

This year saw several movies dealing with zombies or some kind of apocalypse, and so when I first saw the trailer for this one, I wasn't interested. Mostly because zombie movies tend to be rather gory and violent, and I don't like movies like that (a reason why I stopped watching "The Walking Dead" on TV). However, I heard that the movie was not that way, so I decided to watch it this evening.


"World War Z" starts off on an average day. Former UN investigator Gerry Lane (played by Brad Pitt) is living in Philadelphia with his wife and two daughters. While they're stuck in traffic one morning, the city breaks out into a massive panic, and Gerry realizes that people are being bitten and are turning into something that is not human. Gerry is practically blackmailed into working for the provisional US government to find the source of the mysterious "zombie" virus and takes an extended, action-packed trip to South Korea, Israel, and Wales, accompanied and aided by various soldiers and doctors and spending part of the time worrying about the safety of his family.

The story had a good concept though parts were poorly executed. My biggest beef was the abrupt changing in the last third or so of the movie. Gerry is originally sent out to find the source of the virus, but he soon changes his course of action to test out a theory of his that could help protect people from the ever-growing zombie population. So by the end of the film, we have a couple of suggestions of where the virus originated, but the thread is abruptly dropped. No cure is found either, though Gerry and the other doctors figure out a way to basically conceal people so that the zombies won't bite them and stop the spread of the virus. This left the movie feeling almost like a jumping-off point for future story lines, like it was just starting off a story but not finishing it. Another thing that bothered me was the zombie that happened to show up on the plane to Wales; the scene left me going "where the heck did he come from?"

Nonetheless, I liked the new direction that the writers took with zombies. Instead of the mindless, slow, cannibals of "Walking Dead" and popular culture, they're terrifyingly fast (but still brainless) and are merely looking to further spread the virus through biting other people. I also liked the whole "not biting people who would be too weak to transmit the virus" idea, but it does raise certain questions regarding the "virus" that the doctors created to hide people from the zombies (more precisely why they would inject themselves and then make their way to safety without dying of the illness, but that's beside the point). Another thing I appreciated is the lack of violence in the movie. While there is some, it's nowhere near "Walking Dead" levels or what I imagine to be normal for zombie movies.

The movie itself was fast-paced, and I was sitting on the edge of my seat for most of the time. I liked how the writers didn't explain everything at once (though if you've seen the trailers, you have an idea of what's going on) and that you learned alongside Gerry. In this sense it sort of reminded me of "Cloverfield," where you don't know what's happening but you get bits and pieces throughout the movie. Many of the scenes were rather intense, especially the nerve-wracking climax at the W.H.O. facility.

The characters were ok, though there was nothing too overly memorable about them. I appreciate the writers for not making Gerry into some kind of zombie-killing machine and for keeping him more innovative in getting out of tough situations. You feel bad when certain characters get bit or hurt in the zombie apocalypse, but very few characters survive the entire movie or are in it for very long.

Even though the story is a bit weak and raises questions at the end, I found this movie to be a good action-packed flick and something that I more than likely will watch again. If you don't like a lot of violence or gore and need an intense action movie, I recommend it.

I give it four out of five stars.