Monday, July 1, 2013

World War Z (2013)


Title: World War Z (2013)

Director: Marc Foster

Cast: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, Fana Mokoena, David Morse

Review:

The first thing that pops in my mind when I think of World War Z is that it is the most expensive zombie movie ever made, this zombie opus costs about 200 million dollars to make. So taking that in consideration, I expected the biggest zombie massacre ever. But then I remember they decided to make it a PG-13 film which immediately means, no gore, no graphic gut munching, no blood, no brains, which of course just goes against everything that a true blue zombie movie should be about. I mean, a zombie movie with no gore? That doesn’t even fit the rhyme scheme, but that’s what World War Z is. A gutless zombie movie and I mean that in more ways than one. But okay, so who am I kidding anyways right? This is a movie starring one of the biggest actors in Hollywood, World War Z was not gonna be a graphic zombie film since that fateful day in which Brad Pitt signed on to do the film. So whatever, zombie movie expectations aside, what was World War Z like?


Gerry Lane is an ex United Nations employee who has to reinstate himself in order to help the government discover the origins of the zombie plague. In order to find a possible cure for the zombie plague, they have to find “patient zero”, the first victim of the virus. In this way they can identify the cause of the disease so they can find a way to stop it. So the search for this patient zero takes Gerry all over the globe. Unfortunately, the plague is spreading so quickly that any country that Gerry visits is overrun by thousands of zombies! Will they ever find the ever elusive patient zero?


If you ask this zombie fan a gore less zombie movie just isn’t the same, I mean, isn’t the nature of a zombie that they eat flesh and or brains? But whatever, I decided to accept World War Z for what it is. I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt. Maybe this is one of those movies that’s PG-13 but still intense and scary? And it was, I’d say that even without the graphic violence and gore we’ve come to associate with zombie films, World War Z remains gripping and intense. And it has some genuinely spooky moments squeezed in there. On any one of these zombie movies, my favorite moments are those in which the zombie plague is just getting started, when the chaos is just starting to show its ugly face and these moments are very exciting in World War Z. We first come to face with the zombie chaos when Gerry and his family are on their car, having a nice day. Suddenly chaos hits and its explosions, car crashes and thousands of people hollering down a city street running from zombies…all cool stuff, exciting. I mean these zombies can leap like grasshoppers! And the movie maintains that level of excitement all throughout. My only critique would be that they should have made the zombies scarier, as it is, all we see them do is run ferociously, and that’s it. You never see a zombie munching away at somebody, so why are they a threat? Because they can run really fast? Yes my friends, sadly the flesh/brain eating element was left out of this zombie opus, as a result, the film is less gripping then it could have been. In my opinion, World War Z is good, but it would have been a better zombie movie had it been rated ‘R’.


World War Z is based on Max Brooks’ novel World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. For those not in the know, Max Brooks is also the son of Mel Brooks, the famous director of comedies such as Young Frankenstein (1974) and Spaceballs (1987). In contrasts with his father’s career, Max Brooks has chosen to be a writer of zombie novels! He also wrote another zombie themed book called The Zombie Survival Guide. From what I gather, the film is a very loose adaptation of the book, I haven’t read the book, but I’ve read some fans complaining that it isn’t a very good adaptation. When they adapt a film into a book, I like to judge the movie on its own merits; unfortunately, World War Z is not a very original film. Instead of sticking with the books political criticism or dammit, some of the books more original elements (from what I’ve read there are a lot of those on this book!) the filmmakers decided to show us moments we’d already seen before in previous zombie films. What I’m saying is that if you’re a zombie fan, then you’ll be familiar with many of the situations presented on World War Z.


The picture perfect suburban family thing, where the film starts out with a beautiful happy family being extra happy and joyful only to hurl them directly in the middle of zombie chaos is something we already saw before in Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead (2004).The scene in which a zombie horde follows Gerry as he jumps off the building? Saw that in Resident Evil Afterlife (2010). The heroes of the film find refuge with a nice family inside a complex building? Saw that in 28 Days later (2002), even the last shots of this film and the way it was resolved reminded me of I Am Legend (2007). Zombie outbreak on a plane? Saw that in Flight of the Living Dead (2007)! So in the end, World War Z goes down a couple of notches in its rating simply because it wasn’t that original. In essence, even though it entertains, it doesn’t break new ground in terms of what a zombie film is. The most original element about this film is how the masses of stampeding zombies pile on top of one another to form waves of zombies, but aside from that, it’s all be there and done that. 


So ultimately, what hurt this movie the most, in terms of it being a good zombie film, was Hollywood playing it safe. Multimillion dollar productions like this one are such a risk, that Hollywood has no options but to put a huge star in it and rate it PG-13 so that the biggest amount of youngsters will go see it. If they stamp it with an R, they are afraid fewer kids will be let in theaters to see it. When has an R rating ever stopped a kid from seeing a movie? I don’t know about you guys, but that whole rating thing is bull, I’ve seen kids seeing R rated movies in theaters all the time, so I don’t know about the validity of that whole rating thing. Ultimately I think theaters will take your money no matter what age you are. But in order to play it safe and rake in that dough, they rate it PG-13, it doesn’t matter to them if they end up with a less effective movie. They even went and changed the ending of the film entirely in order to give it the typical happy ending; I hear the ending was supposed to be this big ass zombie war, which would have made sense, I mean the film is called World War Z after all. As it is, the film doesn’t end with a bang, it ends with a whimper. Of course it’s going to have a happy ending; this is Brad freaking Pitt we’re talking about here. I’m not saying it wasn’t entertaining or gripping, in fact it has some moments that take zombie films to a level of epic that zombie films had never reached, I mean, 200 million bucks can buy you a whole lot of goodies for your film, but then you also feel like World War Z is missing valuable elements that would have made it even more effective.  I would have preferred this movie with a lesser known actor and with more guts. But alas, World War Z is Hollywood; pure and unadulterated.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

"No, no, no, scrap all that, we're going with the mega happy ending!" Brad Pitt talks with director Marc Foster behind the scenes. 


19 comments:

jimmie t. murakami said...

Because of the ludicrous hypocrisy that governs Hollywood PG-13 will always unfortunately equate to superior box-office over inferior movies. World War Z isn`t a bad movie but ultimately i think i`ll still prefer to go back to my George A. Romero collection.

jimmie t. murakami said...

I can understand "Despicable Me 2" for the 4th of July week-end, but "The Lone Ranger" ! ?, i thought westerns were dead and buried ! ! !.

steve prefontaine said...

Francisco, i completely agree when you say a zombie movie simply isn`t a zombie movie without lots of shots of zombies feeding on freshly ripped out intestines, its absurd, like a Mad Max movie without any car crunching or a Star Wars movie without any space battles, i can only summise that the reason World War Z is doing so well at the box office is that the vast majority of people who are going to see it are not specifically fans of zombie movies, but rather fans of Hollywood summer blockbusters who dont perhaps even know anything about the zombie element in the movie.

Francisco Gonzalez said...

Jimmie: Yeah, George A. Romero will always be the best zombie director for me, I mean, Day of the Dead was made with so little money, yet it has such a dreadful atmosphere to it...you really do feel like it's the end of the world, you never for a second feel like your watching some hollywood film, because it isnt a hollywood film.

Agree, I guess we'll see how audiences feel about Westerns...but if history serves us right, then we could be talking about a possible bomb at the box office with The Lone Ranger, though to tell you the truth, the movie looks fun as hell. Im going to give it the benefit of the doubt and go see it. But as far as the masses go, I'm guessing its going to tank.

Steve: Agree, or maybe it's simply Brad Pitt's name that brings in the masses...or the popularity of zombies right now. I mean, The Walking Dead is huge! That show has done a lot for the zombie genre thats for sure!

Dan O. said...

Good review man. It was a way better movie than I expected, but then again, that still isn't saying much because there wasn't all that much special to this movie in the end.

Francisco Gonzalez said...

Exactly man, you feel like you didnt see a "bad movie" but also, you don't feel like you saw a good one, it's a so-so movie. They could have done so much more had they not been afraid to go all the way, it's like a zombie movie thats afraid of being a zombie movie and that's just not cool in my book, I hate it when a film is afraid to embrace its genre.

Maurice Mitchell said...

I read a fascinating article about the troubles the production went through and I'd gave me a new perspective on the film. Most of the costs were from the shooting locations and the number of extras. I still haven't seen it, but it sounds like the money was better spent elsewhere. The original Russia ending was thought to be too abrupt a change for the character and didn't leave you with the feel of a family man.

I guess it's a Hollywood film for better or worse. A good well-rounded review Francisco.

Jack Thursby said...

Hmmm, I want to see this, purely because there's never been such an epic zombie movie, but I think I'll wait until I can rent it. No doubt the DVD will be some sort of Unrated/Extended Cut with two seconds more violence. Oh well!

Francisco Gonzalez said...

I went in thinking the same, "the most epic zombie movie" and it delivers on some counts, but not in others. Still, it aint a bad film, it's just not the great film everyone might have been expecting because of the budget they had.

That ending they were going to film sounds so much better, I'm willing to bet they didnt film it because they went over budget....but supposedly they said that they didnt film it because it made Brad Pitt's character "not look like a family man"

Whatever, don't you think a family man would start killing zombies if he had to in order to protect his family? Of course he would! That's the dumbest reason not to film a climactic zombie battle. The film is called World War Z after all! Hellooo!

J.D. Lafrance said...

Have you seen 28 WEEKS LATER? I heard that WORLD WAR Z owes a lot to that film as well.

Francisco Gonzalez said...

Maurice: I've read about the troubles and they were many, amongst them a main actor and a director that weren't on speaking terms? That's never a good thing for any production.

Francisco Gonzalez said...

JD: Now that you mention it J.D., now that I think about it, you are absolutely right, it does owe a lot to that one!! Im going to have to re-watch that one now. But yeah, it's also about a family man, but 28 Weeks is a better film then World War Z, in fact, its everything that World War Z isnt and should have been.

Kev D. said...

I'm with Dan O.... Better than I thought it would be, but still not even CLOSE to what it could have or should have been.

Francisco Gonzalez said...

And I'm with both of ya, I expected a disaster, got a decent zombie flick, but was also dissapointed at the same time.

Jack Thursby said...

I really hope they at least piece together what they did shoot for the original Russian ending and put it on the DVD - preferably as a branching version.

I just read up on what the original ending was. Sounds really, really dark. I'm wondering if they scrapped it because it jeopardised the PG13 rating.

Francisco Gonzalez said...

It sucks that the spent all that money only to NOT use all that footage, especially when they have to green light these things before they shoot them...I mean, didn't they realize when they read the script and green lit it that this was going to be how it ended? Somebody said, sure, bad ass zombie war at the ending of the movie, let's do that! But then, they shoot it and its like..."No it's not what we want"

Freaking money wasters!

Charlene said...

This is gorgeous!

WatchingTheDead said...

Just found your blog. Excellent summary and review. Taken for what it is, Pitt's WWZ with all the Hollywood fakery and glitz that comes with that, it's in my opinion a good film. Very good in places. Would it have been better dirtier and darker? Maybe, but then it just might have become just another derivative zombie clone.

Anyway, great blog. I'll be sure to check it out.

Francisco Gonzalez said...

Glad you're enjoying the blog! I enjoyed World War Z even though it was a "softer" zombie film, it still has some very gripping moments.

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