There are two genres I know for sure that I’m not very big on. One is the romantic comedy; the other is the zombie movie. Despite this, I went to see what was allegedly an interesting take on the genre of zombies, namely a film called World War Z. As an introduction to the concept I’m sure it’s not the best option, but you know what? It worked fine for me!
To be fair, though, one thing I do know is that the creatures in this film aren’t exactly your traditional zombies. They aren’t slow-moving brain-eaters woken from their eternal slumber, but really fast and vicious humans infected by a virus transmitted by bites from other creatures like them. But hey, in the film they’re referred to as zombies so I’ll just roll with it.
The plot starts off with our hero played by Brad Pitt, his wife played by Mireille Enos and their children played by Abigail Hargrove and Sterling Jerins barely making it out alive when the inexplicable epidemy begins in their home town of Philadelphia. Initially, it plays out pretty much like your average disaster movie where a few civilians fight for their survival in a city full of hostile monsters, in this case a bunch of hungry zombies. But Brad Pitt happens to be that clichéd ex-soldier who just wants to spend time with his family type of character whom his former superiors need “back on the force”. This is where the film, in my opinion, becomes more interesting.
The rest of it focuses on Pitt and his team of expendable extras, one of whom is so smart he slips and shoots himself in the head before the zombies can even get him, travelling around the world to find answers and possibly even a cure. Lots of zombie-shooting action and jump scares ensue, as well as encounters with some strange people who seem to know a good deal of how this virus came to be. One of them includes a crazy, former CIA agent played by David Morse.
Even though I feel like I’ve seen the story told in World War Z a few times before, since it brings to mind the likes of War of The Worlds, I Am Legend and possibly other films I’ve not yet seen, I never felt bored by it. When it was over, I was surprised at how short it felt. It’s quite well directed in how it nicely captures a sense of chaos and danger which makes you feel for the characters involved, even though some of them could’ve used more focus.
I was also surprised at how hard the film relied on emotion and atmosphere, wheras most apocalyptic horror movies will usually try to find as many oppurtunities to toss in action and gore as possible. Instead, it dedicates plenty of time to making us feel for the main character. When it does go for action and horror, however, it’s mostly very exhilerating, suspenseful and entertaining. It helps that the music’s awesome! Now, the way the humans move and act after the infection starts can admittedly be a little silly-looking at certain times and there are plenty of lackluster child actors (although the little girl with asthma was pretty good), but these are just nitpicks on my part.
On that note, other people seeing this will surely nitpick the zombies and debate whether the ones in this particular film are a good interpretation or not. I myself was too busy wondering what sort of virus would make humans immue to gunfire and strong enough to bash in car windows with their skulls and leap great lengths. The screenplay is based upon a graphic novel by Max Brooks so all those questions should probably go to him.
World War Z does have some flaws and it does leave a few questions unanswered, although it does hint at a possible sequel. Overall, though, I would say that even though World War Z isn’t a modern masterpiece of high art, it is one of the more fun and enthralling movies I’ve seen this year. After all, when a film is so captivating that it makes me shrug off the fact that a character dies by slipping on a wet airplane floor and shooting himself in the head it must be doing something right.