Friday, June 28, 2013

Movie Review: World War Z (2013)

Forget Superman. In World War Z, Brad Pitt's character doesn't have to take his shirt off. He gets things done. How refreshing to have a competent, grounded hero to counteract the empty grandiosity of DC comic book fare.

World War Z is apparently a departure from its book origin. That's fine. It stands up well as a film. The story follows Gerry, a former UN investigator who is sent to track the source of a mysterious virus in exchange for his family's safety. The virus turns people into speedy slavering zombies in twelve seconds. Gerry's mission takes him to South Korea, then Israel, then Wales.

There's plenty of tension throughout the film, starting with an outbreak in Philadelphia during a typical morning commute. The sheer numbers of the infected, and their sensitivity to noise, make it almost impossible to escape their stampedes. Gerry relies on a combination of field experience, observational skill, and of course, luck, to make it. At no point was he sassy, dorky, or tragically conflicted. He's a guy with a job to do, and he gets straight to the point. Like I said -- refreshing!

The rest of the cast do well, particularly Mireille Enos as Gerry's wife, Karin, and Daniella Kertesz, who plays Segen, an Israeli soldier. Fana Mokoena is the government official who works with Gerry; David Morse is great as a prisoner with vital intel; and Pierfranceso Favino, Ruth Negga, Peter Capaldi, and Moritz Bleibtru add more dependable characters to the story.

The zombies are probably the worst thing about the movie. They're terrifying as a crowd -- mindless and unstoppable. But seeing individual zombies up close made people in the audience laugh. It was probably a combination of the PG 13 makeup, and the fact that we've seen much more terrifying infected (c.f. 28 Days Later).

The end of the movie is probably more like what the book is like -- showing the different responses worldwide to the threat. World War Z felt truncated, actually. It didn't feel like a finished story. Gerry himself says that.

So now I will get my grubby paws on the book, and wax poetic about the varieties of creative expression and the impact of one medium versus another.

Or, more likely, I would say something like, "It was good, but where's Brad Pitt? herp derp"

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