Thursday, June 27, 2013

Film Review: World War Z (2013)

World War Z 

Released: 2013

Directed by: Marc Foster

Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, Peter Capaldi

Synopsis: United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to destroy humanity itself. (Via IMDB)


I'll be honest, I had no real desire to see this film given the epic train-wreck of the film's production. Actually, rephrase that, I had no real desire to pay money to see this film given the epic train-wreck of the production. It wasn't that I thought it would be bad (although I had a sneaking suspicion it wouldn't be great), my real concern was how boring it looked. When the first 2 minute trailer hit I all but fell asleep. I mean how, HOW do you make a film about a zombie apocalypse which has the money to be epic and insane and big BORING? And in a trailer? Ugh, so yeah, I had little desire to see it, but when I was offered two free tickets by a friend and had nothing better to do on my Friday night I decided to give it a shot.

And you know what? It was alright. It was pretty bloodless and clinical for a zombie film, but I was entertained for the two hours it was on the big screen and there were enough jump scares to make Tom laugh at me. I thought the zombie make up was well done and I really loved the reckless abandon of the zombies. Watching them ram their head repeatedly into a car windscreen to get to the humans inside was really flippin' cool. I didn't care much for the CGI zombies, but mostly because they look so CGI compared to the actual human zombies. But that first scene in Philly was really good, and if the rest of the film had been as well constructed it would have been a much more memorable film.

mild spoilers below...I guess? 

So aside from the CGI zombies and some terrible shaky-cam, it's an entertaining enough film. The issues come after you leave the cinema and spend even two minutes talking about it. The whole story makes no sense. None. Every single thread falls apart with the tiniest of tugs. Why do they need to find patient zero? Given that we're told that pretty much everyone is burning the fully-dead zombies, how would you find them anyway? Surely they'd have been burnt already? And if it's so important, why does that story thread just...end. And why are we told the zombies in South Korea took 10 minutes to turn and the American only took 10 seconds - why isn't that followed up on? Why does Brad Pitt have a family? They're completely unnecessary to the plot and just waste screen time. Why does his wife nearly get raped in a supermarket in the first 10 minutes? Why is Brad Pitt their number one pick to solve this whole issue? Why doesn't he tell the scientists in Cardiff who he is? Why do they ride bicycles in South Korea? WHY DOES ANYTHING IN THIS MOVIE HAPPEN?

end to whatever teeny spoilers I gave.

There is a good film or TV series buried in here. It's also called World War Z and it's based on the actual god damn book. OK, the style of the book could never have been replicated (except maybe in a TV series), but at least the book took one interpretation of the zombie mythos and stuck to it from start to finish. The film version of WWZ felt like a kid in a candy store, "oh oh oh! I want a big scene in Israel" "And a crazy CIA agent in South Korea!" "Oh and please can I have a voice over at the end which tells everyone basically nothing about the story they want and everything about the family they did not give a shit about? Please, please, pleeeeease?!" Was it an investigative thriller about finding the source of the contagion or a traditional zombie seige film? Was there any political motivation about the spread of the disease, or did we just want to show a scene where Yay! Arabs and Jews are getting along just fine thanks! Do we want this to be a film about a family's survival, or do we just want a flimsy backdrop motivation for our lead star? Are they zombies (which we will keep saying they aren't even though they are dead and still moving/attacking) or are they infected?

It comes down to, I think, the conflict between making a zombie film, something which is traditionally low budget and focuses on the survivors and how they interact in their enclosed house/shopping centre/barn or making a big budget contagion thriller. They never knew what they wanted, they didn't know how to make the book work as a film, and they decided to try and make it work on the fly. So what you get is a very well produced film that's pretty to look at, with some impressive action set pieces and fantastic acting but no actual substance. And I know people like to get all "but it's a zombie film, SERIOUSLY" about this sort of thing, but the best zombie films (and the best films full stop) are about an actual story, while also being bloody and gory and creepy as shit. It's not enough to have one and expect success. Zombies don't sell. What sells is the story that the zombies facilitate, a story about people surviving, solving problems, dealing with their shit and looking badass while they do it.

So if you want to see the film, then do it, because it's got some killer scenes (seriously guys, it starts so well) and, of course, zombies. But do yourself a favour and leave your thinking cap at home and leave it off until well after the film finishes. And then come back here so we can bitch about Brad Pitt's stupidity on a certain plane when talking to a certain stupid wife after a certain stupid scene.


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