My take on…World War Z
World War Z will bring you something new in zombie movies.
That’s part of the pitch for the summer movie I’ve probably enjoyed the most so far this year, but it does seem like a bit of an odd one. Are zombie movies really so much the same and formulaic? Compare White Zombie, Night of the Living Dead (one of the great movies of any kind, in my opinion), Dawn of the Dead, 28 Days Later, and this year’s Warm Bodies. It doesn’t particularly seem like a theme (and it is that, rather than a genre) which is drowning in clichés.
That said, the movie is different, and brings us some new perspectives. The director, Marc Forster (Finding Neverland, Quantum of Solace) and cinematographer Ben Seresin (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Unstoppable) move seamlessly between distance helicopter-type shots and claustrophobic interiors.
The zombies are new, too. They are creepy, both as individuals (in particular, there is one with chittering teeth, like a cat who sees a bird through a closed window), and in groups. Their capabilities do make them interesting, without giving too much away.
The first three quarters of the movie or so were quite intriguing for me. Driven by following Brad Pitt’s character (and Pitt does a good job with making Gerry Lane believable: more capable than the typical person, but not a superhero by any means), the pace was good, allowing for both relatively quiet emotional scenes, and action pieces.
Before I address the screenplay (in as much of a spoiler free way as I can), let me say that I have not read the book on which it is based.
The odd thing for me was that the movie seemed more like a series of scenes than a linear story. It was as if the screenwriters (including Damon Lindelof from Lost and J. Michael Straczynski from Babylon 5) had divided up parts of the novel and each written a bit. Collaborations like that can certainly work, and can be more cohesive than you might think, but in this case, it made me feel like it was a bit disjointed. It was sort of like when each Star Trek crewmember used to get a scene in the movies, just to get those in there. I think the filmmakers wanted to nod to significant scenes in the book (which, again, I haven’t read…I’m just giving you my impressions).
That’s not to say that each of the sections wasn’t interesting…it might have looked like a patchwork quilt, but those pieces each worked.
As to the last quarter of the movie…well, for me, it didn’t stand up to the beginning. In fact, I said to my Significant Other that I think ending it much earlier might have been better…there was a spot I might have chosen.
I’m not going to reveal too much here, but I do want to comment on the end of the movie. If you’d like to have complete discovery about it, you may want to skip this next part.
The end of the movie simply tied things together too nicely…and even required quite a bit of voiceover exposition to do so (even if that voiceover was trying to make us think it wasn’t finishing so neatly). I also didn’t find the science convincing, although there were earlier indications that it might be. I liked how Gerry Lane was trying to measure and figure out the variables as things went along…that’s actually something I find myself doing. However, there were some things that were said and done that seemed contradictory…perhaps the book gives more of an explanation, but for me, there were big gaps in the explanation.
Would I recommend that you see this movie? Sure. I enjoyed it. It could have been better (and I’m sure there will be alternate endings on the eventual home video releases), but it was good.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle