I was surprised by how much I liked World War Z.
First of all, let me start by saying that I had very low expectations going into this movie. I’d heard the rumors of how the first cut was terrible and they had to refilm huge chunks of it. Plus, I love the book by Max Brooks so I was already wary of it to begin with.
Second, World War Z the movie has absolutely nothing in common with World War Z the novel with the exception of the title and the fact that someone from the UN was a character. Everything else was completely new.
Third, if you know me or have read the blog for any significant amount of time, then you know that my biggest fear is zombies. Hands down. I thought I’d managed to desensitize myself to them thanks to this past season of The Walking Dead. I seemed to be doing better and was actually looking at the screen during the zombie scenes. Well, Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ, I fully expect to have horrific zombie nightmares every night for the next week. That, and I will likely be very sore for the next couple of days because I was wound up so tight during the whole movie. My friends were laughing at me because I spent half the movie covering my face with my scarf.
***I think I do a pretty good job of not spoiling too much this time but I’m putting up the usual warning just in case***
In the book, a UN Postwar Commission agent is collecting stories from survivors of a zombie war that started 10 years prior. He interviews astronauts, a soldier from the Battle of Yonkers, a Japanese gamer kid turned samurai, a girl who survived cold and starvation in frozen North America, amongst others.
The movie, on the other hand, focuses primarily on a former UN Crisis Specialist named Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his attempts to figure out where the plague began and subsequently, a cure for it. He’s recruited by an old work buddy, UN Undersecretary Thierry Umutoni (Fana Mokoena) and assisted by various soldiers and scientists, most notably an Israeli soldier named Segen (Daniella Kertesz). The only other people you get to know for longer than 5 minutes are Gerry’s wife Karin (Mireille Enos), their two daughters Rachel (Abigail Hargrove) and Connie (Sterling Jerins), and a boy they pick up in Newark named Tommy (Fabrizio Zacharee Guido).
As competent as Lane is, the scientists around him all seem to be smart but clumsy. An ill-fated Virologist (Elyes Gabel) gives a pretty epic speech about Mother Nature being a serial killer before accidentally tripping and blowing his own brains out. Oops. And the guy in charge (Pierfrancesco Favino) at the W.H.O. research facility in Cardiff is physically incapable of not bumping into anything and everything around him which is super annoying. There are notable cameos by David Morse, Matthew Fox, David Andrews, Ruth Negga, Peter Capaldi and others.
At times the zombies are so obviously CGI that it’s almost laughable, especially in the larger group scenes. Other times, they are so detailed and grotesque that it’s hard to watch even if you’re not completely petrified of zombies like I am. This is most apparent in the W.H.O. facility and featured crowd zombies in Philadelphia and Jerusalem.
A few nitpicky things: I saw the movie with a bunch of friends and my brother who’s a Marine. He pointed out that the military plane could never have landed and/or taken off from the aircraft carrier (that’s where the movie lost him) and that different planes were used in different shots. That, and this particular plane never could have reached South Korea from the Eastern Seaboard. It wouldn’t have enough fuel to make it.
I was fine with most of the book not being included in the movie because, honestly, it’s a very difficult book to translate from page to screen, but there are a couple of things I think they could have kept that fans of the book would have appreciated. The Battle of Yonkers, a brief shot of the astronauts watching from the ISS, and some zombies walking around on the bottom of the ocean could easily have been included.
I can’t say much more without spoiling the movie, which I’m trying really hard not to do. But I’ll just end by saying that I’ve never been so inspired by a guy walking down a hallway full of charging zombies. It was a beautiful moment in a movie that was truly horrifying for me to watch. It’s worth it to see World War Z on the big screen; however, if you haven’t read the book, do yourself a favor and read it. Same goes for The Zombie Survival Guide, also by Max Brooks.
3.5 out of 5 Sci-Fives!
Don’t forget to buy a calendar! It’s got every nerdy holiday you can imagine, plus a super handy convention calendar, and some never-before-seen pictures that will never, ever be seen anywhere else. It’s worth it to get the 2013 calendar. Besides, if I don’t sell these, then there probably won’t be one next year so, ya know…buy one Since it’s June, they’re super discounted (I promise you I’m not making a fortune off of them) and the price includes taxes and shipping within the US and Canada (if you live outside of the US/Canada then email me at email@example.com). AND I’ll sign it if you want.