So, I just got done watching World War Z. Figured I’d jot down my thoughts for those that might be interested. First, however, let me put out a disclaimer: I have not read the book. It’s on my list, and I know there are massive discrepancies between movie and book, but I haven’t read it yet. As such, I will not be making any direct comparisons between the two mediums.
Now that the disclaimer is out of the way…
World War Z isn’t exactly your typical zombie film. The zombies are extremely comparable to Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later-style of infected, rather than the slow, walker-style we grew up with. This, in addition to the form they’re represented in, leads to one truth.
The movie isn’t about the zombies being the end of the world, it’s about a worldwide viral epidemic. If you let this realization sink in, you’ll enjoy the film much more than if you expect a Dawn of the Dead form of zombie film. While this kind of message has nearly always existed in zombie films, World War Z opts to make it the central platform it stands on.
The zombies are nearly always depicted as this, literally, unending swarm of infection that no walls can hold back, no weapon can really kill. It’s this perspective that makes the film remarkably tense and nerve-wracking, despite its PG-13 rating, as you see city after city, nation after nation fall to this horde of disease.
Despite its rating, as well, it’s remarkably brutal and violent. People commit suicide and amputate limbs in order to try and stop infection within them, infected literally flow over walls and rooftops, slamming down onto the streets, then get back up and pursue the living. Some scenes of gore and mutilation, like you’ve most likely come to expect from pieces like The Walking Dead, are forgone but you forget that as you watch the encroaching hordes.
Plot-wise, the film centers around Brad Pitt’s character, Gerry Lane, who was a former UN investigator who’s sent out across the world to find a cure for the infection. Reluctant to do so, he’s told that unless he goes out, his family will be kicked off the ship that they’ve been evacuated to. From there, he goes around the world as he pursues leads regarding the virus.
Pitt actually did quite a good job as Gerry, with solid performances by Mireille Enos who plays his wife, Karin Lane, and Daniella Kertesz who plays Segen, an Isreali soldier who accompanies him. While it may not be something you’ll be expecting acting awards to go to, it most certainly didn’t detract from the film. Due to events in the film, I actually found Kertesz’s character and performance to be quite sympathetic.
The camera-work can get a bit too shaky for my taste in some action heavy scenes, but that’s more of a personal preference than a problem with the film. The cinematography of the locations, however, is very impressive. It’s not afraid to pull the camera out and show that, “Hey, this virus is literally the fall of this entire city and this nation as a whole.”
Overall, World War Z carries two stories. The first story is about Pitt’s character and the lengths he’ll go to try and keep his family safe. The second, and far more prevalent, is simply “Be prepared.” It may not be zombies, it may not be war, but society literally can crumble down around us. In the aftermath of that, it’ll be the prepared and the dedicated who will survive.
I surprisingly enjoyed my time with the film. After hearing about how much of a departure it was from the source, along with the investment costs and ending re-shoot, my hopes weren’t terribly high. I left the theater, however, thinking that my time and money had been well spent.