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World War Z– Movie Review

Submitted by on June 22, 2013 – 10:53 am4 Comments
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In spite of myself, I liked World War Z. I would have liked it even more if the they had just called it “Brad Pitt and the  Zombie Apocalypse,” and had removed the words “Based on the novel by Max Brooks” from the credits. Because this movie has absolutely nothing to do with Brooks’ brilliant, analytical, pseudo-history of the same name. But bolstered by a lot of chemistry between Pitt and Mireille Enos, and director Marc Forster‘s lyrical way with violence and sadness, World War Z delivers as an explosive summer blockbuster with just enough inner logic and grit to be compelling.

Pitt plays Gerry Lane, a former UN worker vaguely defined as their go-to guy when all hell has broken loose. He gave up the adrenaline-pumping lifestyle to be a family man, but then all hell breaks loose; and the powers that be will only protect Gerry’s family if he helps them. Gerry heads to Korea to try to find Patient Zero, then to Israel to figure out why they took the zombie threat seriously weeks before anyone else, then to Wales to try to develop a kind of vaccine. There is a ton of running, shooting, and explosions at every stop along the way.

*****Possible Spoilers Ahead*****

Sometime around the family’s terrifying race through a Newark apartment building, I realized how invested I was in them. The movie leans too heavily on the perfectness of this family’s dynamic- we get it, they love each other- but it balances very well the intimate human moments of struggle and survival with the huge, chaotic battle scenes of writhing masses of zombies tearing through terrain. (Fast zombies in World War Z? Don’t get me started.) A cop abandons his duties; Gerry fails to convince a family of the danger they’re in; a celebration of unity turns into a slaughter. All were great moments showing a recognizable world twisted by disaster.

It’s not worth it to describe all the ways the movie disappoints when compared to the wide-ranging political, cultural, and military insights and imagination of the book. But the film’s third act (in Wales) is weak all on its own, when the movie veers away from even its own thin internal logic and ends on a oddly anti-climactic note. This might be because of well-publicized production problems and last minute re-writes, or so the filmmakers can keep open sequel possibilities; but it also showed the Hollywood desire for a neat ending. In the book, there is no vaccine or cure; there is just a cold-blooded plan to slowly take back the world at the cost of billions of lives. (Whoops, there I go again.)

Did you see World War Z? What did you think?

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