Wednesday, October 16, 2013

World War Z

 2013  ****1/2

I'm tired of zombie movies.  I realized this years ago when I read a friend's collection of The Walking Dead comic book and stopped because it bored me.  I'm not tired of zombies per se, but tired of the stories of people struggling to make their way in a post-zombie world, even getting to the point of (yawwwwn) turning on each other.  People in bad situations turn on each other?  How original!  It's not like that's been a thing since the true birth of the zombie genre or anything...

Hey look!  It's pointless pain in the ass Harry Cooper from Night of the Living Dead.

I was very excited by certain scenes from WWZ before it came out, and when I caught it in the theater my expectations were exceeded.  It was three shots that hooked me, and I've included them all here.  What made them special was the way the zombie mass flowed like a huge weird liquid, and the more details emerged the more I loved what they had done.  They took the zombies and made them into strange creatures, not just animated dead but a whole new organism.

Here's how it breaks down for me:  The fast zombies of the otherwise wonderful Dawn of the Dead remake disappointed because they lacked the proud charm of Tom Savini's lurching, gorey art pieces.  It was the Infected in 28 Days Later that made the fast zombie (or "zombie") work; the victims of the Rage Virus evoking absolutely unfettered murderous fury.

There's a line in one of the English dubs of Akira about how it would be impossible to reason with a giant amoeba, a terrifying idea echoed by The Blob and to a lesser extent the sci-fi comedy crapfest Evolution.  That's what I always liked about 28 Days Later, the notion that the Infected are simply what you get when you can see the face of something as biologically relentless as a virus.

World War Z takes that idea even further, using a combo of good actors, deftly applied CG and creepy sound design to make the zombies juuust the right amount of alien.   For me it completely revitalized the whole idea.

Add to that is Brad Pitt doing a fine job as a UN Investigator travelling the world trying to find the clue to fighting the crazy.  He's billed as the perfect field man for this kind of thing, which means he's a bit of a badass.  This can be a profound relief in a horror movie; ordinary folks in extraordinary circumstances is nice, but it's also fun having an extremely capable person at the fore.  He's someone who doesn't panic when three speedy zombies are coming up the stairs at them (like I would), but rather has a weapon and skills and even a quick plan about how to take them out.

Johnny mentioned during the countdown that this movie lacked sufficient gore, and on that I must agree, and hence have dinged this movie a half-star off perfect.  There's some precedent (besides the movie going way over budget and needing a PG-13 rating to hope to make the money back) as these zombies don't eat, they just bite.  But there are two rather egregious scenes in which gorey stuff is happening just below the range of the camera, and one of them involves tugging a crowbar out of the zombie head in which it's embedded.  That just shrieks of a missed opportunity.  On the other hand, this is a zombie flick the whole blog can enjoy!  (Except Johnny Sweatpants.)

P.S. I read the book a couple of months after I saw the movie, and I really liked it.  Finished it in a day and a half.  But I didn't have book-fueled expectations of the movie, and I'm glad.  It's quite different.  And do you know which part I liked the least?  The story of the folks who head north and it's great until winter and everybody turns on each other.  Oy!  Again with the man's inhumanity to man!


JPX said...

Excellent review, Octo! It's refreshing to hear you say that you're bored with the zombie genre. I burnt out on that genre a while ago as well which is why I just can't bring myself to watch The Walking Dead (I don't doubt that it is good but I'm just not in the mood). I'm equally burnt out with the vampire genre (except for the classic Universal pictures).

I'm happy to hear that World War Z injects some originality into an otherwise over-played idea. I thought the trailers for this looked terrific. The lack of gore that you and JSP allude to kind of bums me out but it sounds like this one is worth a look. Cool.

AC said...

great review as always. wwz is worth seeing, and the book worth reading. loved the trailers but wish they hadn't spoiled the scene of the zombie pig-pile.

Trevor said...

Nice review indeed - I'm glad you enjoyed the film. I think they heard you on the whole lack of gore thing. I just read a review of the blu-ray edition this morning, and it has the "unreleased cut", which consists of 7 minutes of additional footage, most of which is additional gore, which the reviewer said gave the movie a "soft R rating."

Catfreeek said...

Bring on the gore! Great review as always this film reminded me in several ways of a film Warning Sign that I reviewed some time ago ( Although Warning Sign was riddled with '80's b actors it really did have some game. The infected "zombies" talk but can't be reasoned with because they are crazy. They also are looking to find a cure not a mass slaughter.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

That picture of Harry Cooper just got me stressed out.

Great review Octo! I am going to have to watch and review it too as I can't let you have the last word on the matter. I admit this movie brought something new to the table but I just can't get over the lack of blood and guts. All I ask for in a zombie flick is to be disgusted. The rest is just gravy.

JPX - watch the Walking Dead already, you damn fool! It keeps getting better and better.

DCD said...

Excellent review! I'm happy to hear now much you liked it. I still really want to see this. I read the book so long ago I'm hoping it won't be too much of a distraction.

7ofNine said...
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