Movie Review: “World War Z” Adds a Little Something Extra to the Over Saturated Zombie Genre

Ridiculously fast zombies spices up the zombie genre quite a bit.
World War Z review

Grade: B

World War Z is a film about Zombies obviously. And if you’re like me, you’ve probably seen hundreds, if not thousands, of other zombie related media from movies (Night of the Living Dead), video games (The Resident Evil series), and even television shows (The Walking Dead).

It seems almost as if like every other day another zombie-related product is dropped for consumers like you and I to purchase and/or buy into that concept. Did you know that as of this posting, that there are literally over 14,000 games in the Google Play store that relates to Zombies? I took a quick browse through of all of my phone’s apps and found 3 myself.

I’m saying all of this to illustrate the love fest we seem to have with all things “undead”. And although the zombie market is definitely crowded and often times seems too saturated to make new things work because we have seen it all before, World War Z works.

You should already know by now that the zombies in World War Z aren’t your typical zombies. They don’t seem unintelligent. They are at often times smart.  There are times in this movie where the zombies actually work together to overcome huge obstacles in their way such as when they worked together to lift one another up to climb over that huge protective wall barrier in Jerusalem in order to enter the city.

These zombies don’t move at a snail’s pace. Matter of fact it’s the opposite. Imagine Usain Bolt’s fastest 100m time, which is 9.58 seconds by the way, then imagine him not being able to exhaust himself or get tired and being able to run at that pace all day long. Imagine him chasing you. How long do you think it will take for him to catch you? Even if you’re given a massive head start? Well, that pretty much sums up these zombies. Everyone who was in these zombies path were toast.

Brad Pitt’s World War Z imagines a world overrun by a zombie pandemic, leading to an unlikely new global power structure.

These zombies swarm on their prey like bees, and this manic movement is the most unexpected part of “World War Z” as well as its most memorable. But while the rest of the film, directed by Marc Foster is zombie business as usual, it’s fun to see this kind of familiar material done with intelligence and skill.

Based loosely on the book by Max Brooks, World War Z is in some ways less a zombie movie than the story of a global pandemic and the heroic person trying to stop it.

The film opens with the obligatory but mercifully brief happy family scenes where Pitt’s character, Gerry Lane, is established as a stay-at-home Philadelphia dad who doesn’t seem to do anything more  than make pancake breakfasts.

Then, with out-of-nowhere suddenness, as Gerry is stuck in traffic with wife Karen (Mireille Enos of The Killing) and their two kids, the world as we know it comes to an end in the most unnerving, terrifying way. Infected, twitchy zombies frantically search out the living, even using their foreheads to beat against car windows, all with the aim of biting their victims and making them turn into the same unsavory state.

These scenes were definitely the highlight of the film.  We’ve all seen a zombie metamorphosis time and time again, but these scenes were effectively edited and paced by Roger Barton and Mark Chesse, and these scenes of panic, pandemonium and societal collapse are extremely effective and remarkably plausible.

The attacks have barely begun before Gerry gets a call from U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Thiery Umutoni (Hotel Rwanda‘s Fana Mokoena). It turns out that in his pre-pancake days, Gerry was the international body’s top field investigator, a specialist in crisis situations, and if this globe-sweeping epidemic isn’t a crisis, nothing is.

Gerry doesn’t want to come out of retirement but with the help of a daring helicopter rescue he and his family are deposited on an aircraft carrier, perhaps the planet’s only safe zone, and Gerry is essentially blackmailed into accompanying a young scientist to South Korea, where it’s thought the zombie plague began.

“Mother Nature is a serial killer, she wants to get caught, she leaves bread crumbs, she leaves clues,” the scientist memorably says. What seems like the epidemic’s strengths can mask a weakness.

It’s in Israel, where the plot takes Gerry next, that World War Z‘s visually erupts. Roused from a dormant state by noise, or so the film points out, the zombies form an angry hoard that swarms one on top of the other that they form a pyramid that allows them to surmount a protecting wall. Long shots of this happening, some taken from a helicopter, will not soon be forgotten.  The CGI and special effects used in this sequence was top-notch.

What transpires after this gets a bit formulaic, but it’s all good when you have Brad Pitt in the one-man-against-the-apocalypse role.

This film also offers us a curious portrait of geopolitics that’s left some of us asking questions long after the movie has ended. Is a wall of unity for both Jews and Muslims in Jerusalem an ironic commentary on the West Bank barrier being constructed by Israel alongside Palestine? Or a suggestion that a wall, which resembles the Western Wall, can actually be a positive force in the Middle East?

But there’s little time for rumination on such questions in World War Z before the next swarm of zombies attacks. Any inkling of foreign policy contemplation is completely removed and nullified by the stampeding undead, who seem about as interested in politics as the average summer moviegoer.

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