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Monday, June 24, 2013

Dan's Review--WORLD WAR Z

(Spoilers Only If You Have No Clue What The Movie Is About)

The un-dead are everywhere.
If you have turned on a TV or a computer in the last five years, you know what I'm talking about.
The TWILIGHT franchise, 'The Walking Dead', ZOMBIELAND,'True Blood', "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies", 'The Vampire Diaries', etc. These films, books and television shows, plus many more, about the living-dead who terrorize us (and in some cases, save us) have become insanely popular and mainstream. You are more likely to hear somebody talking about Zombies and/or Vampires than talking about baseball. WORLD WAR Z is a thrilling film that takes the zombie apocalypse craze to a level we have never seen before. It is a refreshing entry into a genre that has been limited by repetition and it gives us the next step in the zombie evolution: speed. 

The film begins with a very good title sequence. Scenes of everyday, human life, intercut with scenes of nature. At first everything in the scenes are normal, then slowly grow more and more disturbing. The effect is exacerbated as the rate at which the shots are shown increases in frequency. Scarier stuff, coming faster and faster. Remember the Wonkatania-tunnel sequence in WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY? It's like that, except you know this is only the beginning of the horror.

We are introduced to Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), his wife Karin (Mireille Enos) and their two young daughters. We quickly understand that Gerry has left some type of high risk job that involved him being in dangerous situations around the world. He seems to be settling into his home life just fine, when chaos erupts around him and the family. Gerry and Karin both guide the family efficiently and quickly, but whatever has caused this mass panic is too great and happening too quickly for them to stop moving. 

Movement is the theme of both the story and the film itself. The Lanes must keep moving to survive, but the force that they are running from moves at an inhuman rate. The film moves very fast as well because the characters can't stay in one place very long. We don't have a lot of conversation about what is happening or why it is happening. The constant action, less dialogue approach definitely did wonders for WORLD WAR Z. 

Today's audiences are savy. The days of people only hearing about movies on 'Entertainment Tonight' are long gone. Even people who only go to the movies a few times a year often know a ton about the film before they see it. And often, the previews don't leave much to the imagination.  I don't have to tell you what the 'Z' stands for, you already know. I know this is true because I have not seen one piece of official text where the studio states that the 'Z' means zombie, but every single preview piece and review I have read talks about zombies. Anyway, yes, they are being chased by very zombie-like, former-humans. However, there are a lot of differences between traditional zombies and these things, the main one being their speed.

If you saw the preview then you have already seen the above picture in context. These zombies run, leap, stack and attack. Their mass is also a strength. The group consumes the scenery as it goes and keeps growing. Firing off some machine gun rounds isn't going to do anything of importance. They are fast and overwhelming, and it's a great visual. We don't stop to watch them snack on their prey and come to think of it, I don't know if they do. Just like all zombies they bite you to infect you, but I don't think they are out for brains.

I have never seen such a large force of beings displayed in a film. It's a hybrid disaster-horror film: we have the jump out at you scares and the small dramas, but we also have destruction (mostly of the population) on a mass scale. When MAN OF STEEL destroyed a few cities, people clamored that the lack of explicit gore made it unrealistic. Well those people won't have much to complain about here. When you see wide shots and realize every single one of the thousands of people in the frame is now a creature, you know this is the gravest of events. They can rebuild Metropolis, but can they rebuild the whole world with whatever and whoever is left over from this?

I don't want to explain the rest of the film because I trust if you are reading this, you probably can guess that Gerry's past job and skills come into play and we are off on a race to save all of human kind. It doesn't matter than you know the beats, this movie is a fun ride all the way through. It's genuinely scary and the tensions build so high at times that I saw people covering their eyes, but peeking through their fingers. 

I thought Pitt turned in a subtle performance and we never felt like he was invincible. He is putting his life on the line out of pure desperation, not cracking one liners every time he drops a bad guy. WORLD WAR Z is horror and action done very well. 
It's cuts through all of the unnecessary jargon exposition and gives us a nice punch of originality, making it a solid 4 Out Of 5. 

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