World War Z (2013)
Review by Bryan Mero
I found myself needing to fill some time on a Friday night. I found a movie that started and ended at the perfect time. World War Z was the movie. I had read quite a bit about the film. Rewrites, re-shoots, budgets problems were just a few of the issues. In most cases, if a film reshoots then it is destined to be bad. Is this the case for World War Z? WWZ was based on the book published in 2006 written by Max Brooks. It was then transcribed into a movie script. Rewritten twice (once by Damon Lindelof) and endured 4 extra months of reshoots. This should have been the kiss of death for any movie but I was surprised by the outcome.
Gerry (Brad Pitt) is a former U.N. investigator. He and his family now live in Philadelphia. A family outing in downtown Philadelphia turns into a nightmare as people start attacking each other and infecting the zombie disease to anyone they can catch. These zombies are not your "walking dead" zombies, they are the running dead. They run as fast as possible to catch their victim. This can result in swarms of zombies acting like a colony of insects all working together to infest entire cities and eventually the world if a cure or weakness can be found.
Gerry and his family are safe out at sea but only if Gerry agrees to join the cause and investigate the origin of the disease. He takes a small military team and a scientist to find "patient zero." Gerry finds himself going to Korea, Israel and Wales before things take a turn. Telling you anymore would spoil the movie. Gerry does find a weakness but in doing so endangers his own life in the process.
So to the rewrites...I'm so glad they did!! The original screenplay had us starting with Gerry escaping with his family on a helicopter and leaving Philadelphia. The rewrite starts in Gerry's suburban home, the kids wake up the parents by jumping on the bed and Gerry makes everyone pancakes. They are not only seen as a happy family, it gives you the audience something the care about in the movie instead of just an action Brad Pitt movie. When Gerry faces danger you know how important it is that he survives so he can see his wife and two daughters. As a father I know how important my wife and kids are to me and what measures I would take to protect them. Everything that Gerry does is for the betterment of his family and it shows on screen.
The zombies are scary but with a PG-13 rating there is hardly any blood and they avoid any "Walking Dead" gore moments. The "Walking Dead" TV series usually has once scene (or two) per episode where a zombie is smashed in the head or shot in the head with body parts and blood fly everywhere. This is not the case in WWZ. The kills are with purpose and each one seems to take its toll on those that survive. This is war unlike anything we have seen on such a global scale. Instead of alien invasion, zombies take that roll and devastate everything in their wake.
The acting was excellent. Brad Pitt does a surprisingly good job. With such star power it would be easy to view it as Brad Pitt "plays action hero good guy" but that was not how it felt. It felt genuine and I think giving us, the audience, Gerry's family background helped immensely. The directing and special effects were spectacular. The most impressive was the gate in Jerusalem. While hordes of zombies attacking the gates, people from all over the area come in through a protective tunnel. That entire scene had great sfx and directed to give us such tension you wanted to scream at the people to be quiet! The zombies hear you! It was excellent.
The only thing that bothered me was how obviously bias it was on how wonderful the United Nations was. The UN is seen as the savior of it all. There was no one else available except for a lone UN investigator. The same thing goes for the World Health Organization...if it wasn't for the UN and the W.H.O. we would all be zombies. Although, to be fair, the movie did show Israel in a positive light and helpful to anyone (non-zombie) in need of sanctuary. Both are minor points but they are a bit over the top.
The ending leaves it open for a sequel. We will see if they plan to do just that. Brad Pitt's production company owns the rights to the book and depending how it does at the box office hopefully they will make another. As for me, I was more than surprised at how good and entertaining it was. I cringed and sat on the edge of my seat for most of the movie.
It is definitely not a family movie. I know that sounds obvious but nowadays you have to be blunt. Kids under 12 should stay home. It is a good date movie with a lot of scares and jumps. It was definitely worth the full price ticket and now I'm looking to buy the book and see how different it actually is. If you want to see a different take on a zombie movie, World War Z fits the bill.
UPDATE: Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who actually liked this movie but people seem to be coming around to my way of thinking. They are working on a sequel which I hope gets made and with all the Walking Dead hype going on...the zombie genre will continue on and this would be a good franchise to jump onto.