World War Z

Zombies, long a cult favorite, have finally made the leap into mainstream cinema. Not being a fan of horror films, I have mostly avoided the zombie craze that has been infecting our cinemas and televisions. No longer a zombie virgin, I recently watched two zombie based mainstream films; Warm Bodies (2013), a romantic teen zombie comedy just out on video, and World War Z (2013). 

After cutting my teeth on zombie lore with Warm Bodies, I was ready for a more epic zombie picture. World War Z was just the ticket. Grounded more in the alien invasion genre, it’s an exhilarating blend of Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds (2005), Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion (2011) and Battle: LA (2011).

Based loosely on the novel by Max Brooks, the film wastes no time throwing us into the middle of a vicious global viral outbreak. If you’re not a predator, you’re the prey. The concept is quite scary; once bitten the virus kills the human host and takes over the body within 12 seconds, ready to infect others. What could be scarier than rabid swarming corpses attacking everyone in sight like locusts and spreading the virus faster than you can run from it, pushing humanity to the edge of extinction?

Brad Pitt plays a retired UN investigator with experience working in war zones, forced out of retirement to help find the source of the zombie plague.  To ensure his family’s safety, he must travel to far-flung reaches of the world, where there are small pockets of precarious humans fending off the manic zombie hordes. 

The speed at which the virus spreads is what keeps our eyes glued to the screen throughout the entire film. Both attractive and repellent, it’s a stunningly photographed depiction of the horror of an ugly enemy, which was once human just moments before, is what makes this film so engaging to watch.

Filmed in Malta, Budapest and other fascinating locations around the world the movie is truly epic in scope, taking us to Korea, the streets of Jerusalem, on board aircraft carriers in the pacific, and various international airport runways.  The movie is as realistic and detailed as a documentary, raising the bar for future epic scale apocalyptic visions. 

Director Marc Forster keeps the sentiment to a minimum and before long people are running through the city streets to escape an unknown deadly threat that could be terrorists, aliens or Godzilla. More than a zombie film, this breakneck action thriller, owes its inspiration to such recent global disaster films as District 9 (2009), Contagion (2011), War of the Worlds (2005) and Battle: Los Angeles (2011).

One of the main complaints by hardened fans of the zombie genre is that there’s not enough gory, hand to hand fighting, but I think that leaving the gore to the imagination makes the story more suspenseful and accessible. 

Shot with a mix of wide panoramic vistas and a documentary point of view style similar to Battle: LA, and Cloverfield (2008), director Marc Forster, who also made the film adaptation of the hugely successful book The Kite Runner (2007) and Monster’s Ball (2001), puts us into the action as it happens, which adds to the tension and horror of the situations.

Brad Pitt does a credible job of realistically portraying someone whose basic instinct to survive and protect his loved ones from an epidemic that is consuming everyone around him, we can all relate to.

You don’t need to be a fan of walking dead films to enjoy this adrenaline induced, white knuckle ride, but for hardcore horror fans that are looking for a gore fest, this may not be the film for you.



MK Slagel said...

I have heard a variety of reviews on this movie. I am yet to see it, but despite the reviews I have heard, I still would like to. I have read a few blogs such as yours that have raved about it and then I have talked to a few friends who said it was okay but wasn't up to their expectations. Again, though, these are friends I have talked to who aren't into films as I am so I think I'll take your opinion over theirs. Thanks for sharing.

Cassandra Schmigotzki said...

I've seen previews but it never clicked that it was a zombie movie until seeing your post.

Susan Cooper said...

Although I am big fan of Brad Pitt's, I'm not sure this is a movie I would go see. I think I am a bit worn out on "the world is coming to an end" genre. Give me a cartoon or happily ever after for a bit. Just my thoughts. :-), Susan Cooper

Edward Reid said...

This is the only summer blockbuster film I really wanted to see from the first advertisements. Reading your article makes me want to go that much more. Zombie films have changed greatly over the years and I think this one may be where they are heading in the future. Thanks again for your post.