'World War Z' Movie Review: The Movie That Wasn't
I kept reminding myself that Brad Pitt’s World War Z wasn’t going to be like the book. Even Max Brooks, the author of the book, said so during an interview with Mansfield University: “I cannot guarantee that the movie will be the book that they love. And I'm in no position to tell people to see this movie or not see it. If I'm asked I say, ‘See the movie as a movie and judge it as a movie.’” This mindset allowed me to enjoy the fast-moving adaptation of World War Z. Nonetheless, after I walked out of the theater, I realized that the last two hours of my life were completely unsatisfying. I couldn’t just judge Pitt’s World War Z as a movie because doing so would be like giving a giant middle finger to Max Brooks and his superb book. The film version of World War Z featured Pitt, hordes of zombies and a lot of running. On the other hand, the book version was much slower-paced, provided a journalistic view of a zombie apocalypse and delved into moral, ethical, and cultural matters. Most importantly, there were no masses of Usain Bolt-like zombies.
World War Z goes against the grain in its genre with lightning fast zombies rather than slow, brooding ones. Bitten humans are turned into zombies within 12 seconds – or coach Mike D’Antoni’s dream movie scenario. This quick transition allows the zombie virus to spread with an unparalleled speed and brutal efficiency, which ensures that the film is kept at an exhilarating pace. But herein lies the problem. This new zombie look helps corner the movie into an action-adventure type of mission. Former UN employee Gerry Lane (Pitt) immediately finds himself on the run with his family in Philadelphia as the outbreak of undead suddenly hits. After finding safety, Lane is forced to search for a potential cure for the zombie virus with Dr. Fassbach (Elyes Gabel) in order for Lane’s family to be allowed to stay on the safe U.S. aircraft carrier. But really, Lane is forced into this mission because every zombie has the LeBron James-gene. There are no fat zombies or out of shape ones. Every single undead being manages to have absurd speed and athleticism, ensuring that civilization is doomed regardless of mankind’s defense mechanisms. Even Israel’s massive wall enclosure (as shown in the trailer) fails to prevent the spread of zombies into Jerusalem due to the zombies’ ability to create a towering undead ladder. With such a quick and certain demise of humans, there is no room to delve into issues such as the inefficiency of government and societal panic that led to the decline of civilization in Max Brooks's book.
Ultimately though, if I disregarded any previous notions of World War Z, this film is a solid addition to the zombie genre. It also isn’t a typical zombie flick that relies on the horror factor of the undead. Instead, it is more of an adventure movie focusing on Pitt in a world full of zombies. His character, Lane, bounces around the globe to South Korea, Israel, and finally Wales in the United Kingdom. The change in scenery, and use of well-made set pieces were showcased with crisp effects and beautiful cinematography. The creepy, fast paced musical score created alarmed vibe and blended in perfectly with the constant havoc and speed with which the film runs. The steady pace is rarely interrupted since World War Z seldom strays from Lane’s quest for answers of the origin of the zombie plague. Besides the random deranged CIA agent who talks about the social engineering atrocity done by North Koreans, the film only touches briefly on social issues like the relocation of “nonessential civilian” personnel and The Mossad’s 10th man strategy as it pertains to Lane. In the end, this works perfectly because the focus is on Pitt and zombies, which is what many are paying to see. It’s not the book by any means, but it is a rare zombie movie that combines high production value with a concise plot full of suspense and action.
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