So, everyone knows by now my propensity for random confessions in these reviews, right? This will be one of those posts. I went to see "World War Z" without ever having read "World War Z". In fact, I do not think I have ever actually opened my copy that I picked up when it first came out like 7 years ago. It is however sitting right in front of me, staring me in the face. From the reactions coming out of the theater, I would have greatly benefited from reading the book beforehand, in that I would have seen some very obvious similarities in the title! Beyond that, I heard there was absolutely no connection, except perhaps mentions of zombies being in both the book and the movie.
"World War Z" follows Gerry (played by Brad Pitt) as he faces down hordes of the undead, single-handedly takes down an entire platoon of corrupt military officials, and makes sweet sweet love on a helicopter as it flies off into the sunset. Well, actually only the first statement is true, but I wanted to try and spice things up for you. In the film, Gerry starts out as just a regular Joe, cooking some pancakes and from those humble beginnings becomes the last hope for humanity. But come on, what did you expect, it is Brad Pitt?
The zombies in this film, are very obviously not the Romero zombies that I remember with such fondness, Instead, these zombies bear a closer relationship to the "Zombies" from Danny Boyle's "28 Days Later", or Zack Snyder's "Dawn of the Dead." That is to say, they are runners. Mindless driven by rage, or hunger, or a sale on Hamburger Helper. There is very little shambling, and a whole lot of trampling. In fact, this movie could have just as easily been a documentary about shopping on "Black Friday".
While I am not a huge fan of the zerg-rush mentality of the zombies in these films, I have to admit there is something infinitely more frightening about dead things that can completely ignore all effects of rigor mortis and just sprint like Usain Bolt going for the gold. The shambling Romero zombie is one that can be walked away from, without much worry of them catching you. These sons of bitches dash, and use each other as zombie ladders, making it so that not even walls will keep them out. Hell, at one point, they took down a helicopter! A FRIKKIN HELICOPTER!
While this may not be a good adaptation of the source material, it is a fairly effective film nonetheless. It starts off slow, giving Brad Pitt a reason to fight, and then maintains a fairly tense pace throughout, with the occasional lull in the action so that the audience can catch its breath, before going into the next series of unimaginable horrors.
The locations chosen are fairly interchangeable, in that any location could be replaced with any other location name, and it would not have changed a single bit of the story. The locations are backdrop, they are filler, offering up only the basest lip service to the world-jumping premise of the source material. Is this detrimental, though? Not in the slightest.
I did not go to the film to see Israel, or some random South Korean base, or any of the other random locations. I came to see some damned zombies, and perhaps to see some faces get eaten... Yes there are zombies, and yes they are everywhere. But the shaky cameras, the horde mentality, and the PG-13 rating ruin a lot of potential these zombies might have had. This is not to say, that the zombies aren't present, just the violence inherent in a zombie outbreak is severely limited.
One final complaint I will lodge against the film, when the first attack happens in Philly, the camera work goes into a sort of "Hunger Games"-esque epileptic fit, that I imagine was meant to convey the confusion inherent in such a situation, but rather than being the frantic insanity it seemed to want to evoke, it instead made me wish I had some dramamine.
All in all, the movie was fun. There are bits that were less than sensational, but it had a sort of big screen feel that I enjoy in a summer flick.
Recomendation: This is not the zombie film you have been waiting for. It is made for the instant gratification crowd, that have made Michael Bay rich. But, it is also not an awful movie. It is a non-intellectual pop corn flick, that will guarantee a fun time, with a minor loss of brain activity. So If you aren't prone to motion sickness, and aren't beholden to the Romero zombie, feel free to check it out.
Is it Theater-worthy: ...Meh. It feels like a big screen film, but honestly, the camera work in some scenes just left me feeling queasy rather than excited. If the film had shot for a proper R rating, I might have said otherwise, but Zombies + PG-13 does not equal a theater-worthy experience in my eyes.
Final Thoughts: A noble effort at pandering zombies to the masses, while sterilizing the concept enough to be palatable to those same masses. Ultimately, It falls short of greatness, by not marketing to the proper crowd. I do not know a single zombie fan that does not appreciate gratuitous gore with their undead hordes. Stick to the Romero, and hope the next zombie flick offers better.
Slamfist Score: 7 out of 10
Aw yeah! Check it! I got video in my review, too!