Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Escape by Taking a Soda Break: World War Z Review

minor spoilers ahead!
Meet Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt). He’s a stay-at-home dad who used to work for the United Nations. Gerry and his family are going about their daily routine when, suddenly, all hell breaks loose in the form of a deadly zombie virus spreading across the globe. Gerry and his family are rescued thanks to his UN connections and make it to the safety of a fleet of ships off the coast. The only problem is the UN wants Gerry to investigate the disease and they’ll kick him and his family off the boat if he doesn’t play nice. What follows is a globe-hopping journey to find the source of the zombie outbreak.

File:World War Z poster.jpg

A quick gripe before moving on. Why do zombies equal explosions? I’ve been noticing this more and more in movies and TV and I just don’t get it. Are they combustible? Why do cities blow apart at the seams the moment zombies start biting people? I know I’m oversimplifying it but, oh well. So. Moving on.

World War Z - A ZOMBIE SUMMER TENT POLE FILM STARRING BRAD PITT! -  is a pretty good movie. Which is weird, because it had some big production problems, namely reshoots. For instance, Lost star Matthew Fox is in the film, but you’d be forgiven if you didn’t notice him. I’m not sure if his part was meant to be bigger, but he doesn’t really do anything in the film. To the point where I wasn’t even sure if it was him at first.  I guess he played some sort of soldier but, again, he doesn’t do much. He’s listed on IMDb as “Parajumper”. Also, David Morse is in the film, for all of like, four minutes. I mean, it’s David Morse, why would you hire him to play the role of a toothless creep locked up in South Korea for a fraction of a fraction of the film? Was there more of his story that was cut?

But I mentioned that WWZ was good, right? Well, the film definitely has some great things going for it. A stellar cast led by Brad Pitt for one thing. He, Mireille Enos as his wife, and their two movie kids have genuine family chemistry. James Badge Dale turned in a good performance as a soldier stationed in South Korea and the great Peter Capaldi briefly shows up at the end of the film as a doctor with the World Health Organization. Everyone I’ve mentioned is great, but I have to make a special fuss about Daniella Kertesz as Gerry’s impromptu Israeli soldier sidekick, Segen. I don’t know what it was but I really rooted for that chick.

Another aspect the film (mostly) gets right is the zombies themselves. We’ve all seen the trailers that feature swarms of hyperactive zombies washing over everything in their path, but the film still features the monsters as we know and love them. The chaotic opening scene is a particularly enjoyable dose of zombie action.

My biggest complaint with the flick is the ending. It just sort of...happens. As I mentioned, the film underwent some reshoots and I’m pretty sure it was to fix the ending. It would be easy to say that the film tripped at the finish line but I’m pretty happy with everything that led up to it, so I can’t complain about it too much.

World War Z, a zombie flick with a big budget, a global setting, and one of the biggest actors working today, is proof positive that the genre isn’t just here to stay, it’s advancing into something else entirely. 

3 Out Of 5 Stars


  1. Robert, I was surprised by how well this film turned out all things considered. I would really like to see the first cut of this film prior to Lindelof getting involved.

    1. I was surprised by how well it turned out as well. I have a feeling the DVD/Blu-ray special features are going to be interesting. Thanks for the comment!

  2. The pre-Lindelof ending actually sounds horrible. The one in the film is much better, but I also got the feeling of like, "Well, okay, it's over now." I think a few more minutes right at the very end would have helped ease that. But yea, overall, I dig the movie. I hate every single CGI zombie, but the practical ones are good stuff.

    1. George - I actually kind of think the original ending sounds bad ass, call me crazy. Yeah the CGI zombies were a bit much. The great thing about zombies is that they don't take a whole lot to make them look convincing and if you're going to the trouble of computer animating them you're doing it wrong. Sort of the same problem with I Am Legend - those things were supposed to be vampires but they turned them into CGI mutants. Thanks for the comment!

    2. Well, I'd say the original ending turns a fairly a-typical story for this genre into the same old shit. At least with the theatrical ending, you still get a bit of the traditional zombie stuff without turning a normal person into a zombie fighting commando. That just sounds like a bad, bad idea to me. One of the big reasons this movie works for me is the family angle and how all Pitt really does is go from location to location trying to piece together a puzzle. He's not chainsawing zombies left and right or anything. There are plenty of other flicks for that.

      God. Those things in I Am Legend almost ruin the whole movie.

    3. Good point. Let me put it this way - I'd be much more interested in a sequel to the flick if it had that original ending. It sounds just bat-shit enough to leave me wanting more. As it stands now I just don't really care.

      Does anyone remember when the things in I Am Legend were going to be regular vampires? And the head vampire was going to be Johnny Depp? That would have been cool or, at least, better than what we got.


    4. What kind of soda did Brad Pitt drink in WWZ before he released all the cans from the soda machine my daughter and I had a difference of what it was please solve this for us.
      V.F. in Killeen Tx.

    5. Vanessa - I actually have no idea. I would have to watch it again. Although they may not have even shown it. Diet Zombie Cola maybe.

    6. Its a supermarket own brand drink, specifically Morrison's dandelion and burdock.

  3. It's fast-paced and bracingly well made, with a refreshingly fresh-faced cast. But the final act is a bundle of corny cliches, cop-out plotting and forced sentimentality that leaves us cold.