|Posted by Parks on June 23, 2013 at 3:15 AM|
Zombies have been a part of popular fiction for a loooong time now, even spanning back to the 1950's with George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead", but because they are such an integral part of modern culture, they’re here to stay. It comes as no surprise that Hollywood has decided to contribute another blockbuster to this blood drenched corner of the horror genre with "World War Z", a film based on the book by Max Brooks. Now to keep this review as fair as possible, I have decided to omit reading the book so that I will not be able to make comparisons because this review is for anyone wanting to see the movie, not for someone deciding to read the book.
An immediate red flag to anyone going to view WWZ is the rating: PG13. This can spell certain death for any movie that intends to have a serious, mature audience, and that is the exact demographic the movie is targeting. One of the primary draws of a zombie movie is the blood and guts associated with a movie about undead cannibals, but World War Z lacks this component of the zombie movie machine and suffers for it. Don't get me wrong, the movie can be scary at some points with some top notch jump scares and very well done, suspenseful moments, but they fade after one viewing; the real horror of a zombie movie, and the type lacking from” World War Z” comes from the disturbing scenes of people getting eaten and zombies getting their heads turned into Play Dough by gun fire and cricket bats. In fact, it doesn’t appear that the zombies actually eat anyone, they're sole purpose just seems to be to infect other humans, and it is this element that immediately decreases the entertainment value of this movie to any serious horror fan or anyone desiring a true zombie movie.
Another problem in the film exists is the absurd amount of times that the Brad Pitt’s character is saved by an element of Deus Ex Machina, which is a Greek term that means being saved by an absolutely lucky and almost God-like event. There are at least 4-5 instances where he should have died and by some silly circumstance is saved. In addition to writing themselves into a corner and having to create dumb story lines to save the protagonist, they also made him very hard to relate to, unless you happen to be a United Nations trained Ex Special Forces agent. Brad Pitt’s character of Gerry Lane starts off as an interesting, seemingly normal father of two with a wrinkled but attractive wife in a nice house who drives a beige Volvo (Which actually saves his life, props to Volvo on that one), but soon after his secret “Old Job” is revealed to be that of a UN investigator, his character development starts to head South quickly and before you know it, the man is starting to shoot people in super markets and attach knives to things (McGiver would be proud). Regardless of his obsession with combining things with cutlery and covering himself in magazines, he still isn’t a compelling character due to his lack of flaws and his shear badassness. I love a good badass who fucks shit up as much as the next guy, but the characters in a zombie movie should be normal people who have to learn how to survive in a new, undead infested world. Taking out that part of a character’s development leaves them dry and uninteresting, especially in Gerry Lane’s case, which is a shame because, as a character, he and his storyline of defending his family could have blossomed into a rose compared to the silly little daffodil it actually is. However, the worst part of the film is not the fact that the character is about as interesting as a brick, but that his family is never really put in any danger after the first 20 minutes which fails to create a sense of importance for the protagonist to finish his mission quickly and return to save his family.
While the movie has its pit falls in the gore and characterization departments, it still succeeds to tell and entertaining story. Just because the personal stakes for Brad Pitt’s character are never really raised, the biggest stakes are kept very high by the films excellent usage of setting to give a scale of the zombie outbreak and how hopeless the situation is. Another of the films strengths is its dedication to realism which adds an air of believability to the movie and provokes the scary thought that a zombie out break could actually happen in real life, and while Gerry Lane may be a boring character, but the writers do an excellent job of crafting wonderful set piece events and badass moments for Gerry to provide entertainment with.
While “World War Z” is a very well made movie with a lot of entertainment value, it lacks the crucial bit of hardcore grit and a relatable protagonist that would really take this movie to the next level in terms of being a true zombie movie instead of it being just another run of the mill summer action movie that just happens to include zombies as a plot device. I give “World War Z” a big, sloppy, 7 out of 10.