World War Z (2013)
Not quite the epic I was hoping for, but still well worth seeing
World War Z was a very good movie, verging on great. There were just a few things keeping it from being among the greats.
First the good: Running, swarming zombies. Amongst my friends who are zombie aficionados (i.e. we like zombie movies), there is agreement about which zombies are the good kind. We’re all bored with walking zombies. If you’ve watched the TV series The Walking Dead, you know that walking zombies aren’t that scary anymore. In fact, they’re little more than a nuisance. An argument could be made that an epidemic of walking zombies could easily be contained and wouldn’t cause any type of apocalypse. How hard is it to get away from a walking zombie? But running zombies… those mofos are scary! Take a look at Zack Snyder’s Day of the Dead (highly recommended) or 28 Days/Months Later (pretty good too) or the unheralded BBC Zombie minisieries “Dead Set” (totally worth seeing). When zombies can run, we’re in for a treat. They’re way scarier because they’re just as fast as you.
World War Z takes running zombies to a whole different level. Not only do they run, but they swarm. They turn into a pack of animals racing like bees through a field. They encounter an impasse and they start crawling on top of each other until they get over it. They’re not stronger than humans per se, but they’ve got “crazy person” strength and speed. This makes for a fun, scary and unpredictable zombie experience. And when the zombies aren’t running, they’re great also. They have weird, tortured movements. The makeup looks awesome. All the special effects are top notch and creative. Given that this was a Brad Pitt movie, we knew that no expense would be spared in production, and it looks great.
The bad. I felt like this movie dragged a little bit. Just a little. The storytelling was very linear. There was one main character (Brad) and he was on a mission to solve the zombie problem. There were no other side stories or even any other real major characters. The other characters in the film really just propped up Brad’s character. Brad seemed a bit too suave and handsome for the role of the main character. His motivation was a bit cliché—he was doing it to save his family. Okay, yeah, that’s the easiest possible character motivation one could come up with. I guess they didn’t really want to take chances on making Brad a bit more nuanced. We should be grateful he at least didn’t have to take his family with him on the expedition like the main character in the Walking Dead. It would have sucked if he were dragging his kids around with him for the whole movie.
Other than that, there were some great surprises and some good dramatic moments. I had read the book and so I was hoping for something a bit more epic, but who knows, it could have gotten boring had it dragged on too long.
Another interesting note about this movie is that there is relatively little gore. There is some, but you don’t see zombies getting their heads split open or people eaten alive by zombies, etc. They probably edited that out to get the PG13 rating. So that may make an unrated version worth watching. Overall the movie is definitely worth seeing. It’s scary as hell and it’s pretty rare for me to be truly scared during a film. So they did a lot of good things here.