Monday, November 11, 2013

World War Z

(2013) **



World War “pee” is more like it.

This review doesn’t count towards my score because I caught it in the theater pre-Horrorthon and again on DVD post-Horrorthon. However, I feel it is my duty to share my gnawing displeasure with the movie adaptation of World War Z. Octopunk, Julie and Trevor already posted thoughtful reviews and pointed out many of its strengths, none of which I disagree with. It is an undeniably ambitious film sprinkled with new ideas, and well acted to boot. I would also add that the guy who played the teeth chatterer put forth the finest zombie performance this side of Bub.

Perhaps it's my fault for not boning up beforehand but, Goddammit, my heart sure did sink into my stomach when I read those insulting words "This film has been rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association". It may as well have been followed by "...because we decided to take something sacred and rip out its soul to make it more palatable for squeamish soccer moms and the like." In my opinion there is a grand tradition of zombie movies that World War Z slapped directly in the face. The reprehensible crime director Marc Forster committed is that he did not try to make the audience vomit. This is what happens when you let a sensitive guy (presumably with a ponytail) famous for wuss movies such as Monster's Ball, Stranger Than Fiction and (giant eyeball roll) Finding Neverland take control of a big budget zombie movie. The result is a catastrophe more troubling than an actual zombie apocalypse.

For me the "Big Bang" of zombies began not with Night of the Living Dead, but with the scene in the original Dawn of the Dead when the zombies feasted on the biker’s intestines. The dude got too confident and decided to play with one of those mall blood pressure monitors when he should have been paying attention to the zombies. Despite the zombies' limited intellect and overall slowness, they overwhelmed him and tore him to pieces in a nasty, stomach churning manner. The rest is history. Dawn of the Dead was rated X in 1978. It was taboo and sublime, and it inspired several enduring zombie classics including Zombi, Dead Alive, Cemetery Man, Shaun of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead (2004), 28 Days Later and The Walking Dead television series. The one thing that ties all of the above mentioned works of art together is a loving commitment to wretched grossness. World War Z intentionally shied away from the gore. So for example, when Brad Pitt whacks a zombie in the head with an axe, the camera focuses on Brad Pitt’s wincing facial expression rather than the cracked cranium with brains and blood slurping out. Simply unacceptable!

For the record the movie has virtually nothing in common with the book, and I’m not quite sure why few people consider this to be a huge problem. People defend the film by asserting that the worldwide scope of the book is far too much to tackle in one feature length movie. Wrong! With a budget of $190,000,000 to play around with I think they could have tried a little harder to capture the essence of the book’s impressive vision.

8 comments:

JPX said...

"This is what happens when you let a sensitive guy (presumably with a ponytail) famous for wuss movies such as Monster's Ball, Stranger Than Fiction and (giant eyeball roll) Finding Neverland take control of a big budget zombie movie. The result is a catastrophe more troubling than an actual zombie apocalypse."

Terrifically hilarious rant! I haven't seen this film so I am in no position to have an opinion but I do agree that zombies and gore go hand in hand, otherwise, what's the point? Social commentary aside, the reason we watch zombie movies is to be grossed out. No gore in a zombie film would be like watching a movie about cannibals who never "dine" on camera.

I agree that with a budget like that just about anything can be achieved. Days later I'm still thinking about the large scope of Thor 2, which I loved by the way.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

It's like a Star Wars movie without lightsabers.

AC said...

love the rant, tho i liked the movie. jpx, see this when you can, if only to be able to weigh in on the debate!

Crystal Math said...

I absolutely adored the book and when I heard it was being made into a movie, I lowered my expectations to the point of not having any. I'm not as enraged as JSP that this film was lacking in gore, but I do think that it would have been an amazing mini-series and fully covered the scope and thesis of the book.

Catfreeek said...

Tony & I were note as enraged either but both felt that a film that potentially could have been the rock star of zombie film ended up being meh because of the poor choices made by the director.

Octopunk said...

What a delightful review!

I thought of this after writing my review and wish I'd included it: WWZ is basically an action movie that co-opts zombieness for itself, and perhaps therein lies the problem.

I would pull my favorite quote but JPX did it already. Kudos for doing outside-of-thon viewing and reviewing.

Trevor said...

The "unrated" version on the blu-ray contains an additional 7 minutes, entirely composed of extra gore. Not a single extra scene or line of dialogue. Just special effects shots. Even with these, this film is well under the standard zombie gore quotient, but it's a clear sign that the marketing department knew what the PG-13 version was missing.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

Thanks for the information Trevor! Despite my negative review I liked it enough to check out the extended cut.

And I agree with AC that JPX should check it out to offer his opinion on the matter, (even though he never will).