World War Z (2013)

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Courtship is term not often heard and practiced in Western society today. Some sociologists may even make the case that it no longer exists in our culture; an outdated ritual and custom to be exact. However, when it comes to zombies, the general population seems to be unaware that they have revived the practice in their persisting love affair with the zombie horror genre. The zombie genre is still going strong, and people seem all too eager to spend their labor cheddar for a 2 hour date with World War Z and the genre itself.

Perhaps part of the appeal that zombies hold has to do with the fact that they’re almost always portrayed as adequate targets for our hatred, fear, and aggression.  In most works, a zombie’s only desire is to feed on human flesh, and it will only stop looking for food when someone puts a bullet in its brain or pulverizes it’s cranium with a barbed baseball bat.  There’s no reasoning with it, so a zombie confrontation becomes a kill-or-be-eaten scenario.  Plus, people can’t feel any remorse when a zombie dies because it’s already dead.  There’s no moral ambiguity in a humans-vs-zombies scenario.  Vampires can think and usually have enough humanity left to be sympathetic or even heroic, and werewolves spend most of their time as humans.  Zombies are just dead flesh that happens to be moving around.

Overview

Director: Forster
Stars: Brad Pitt & Mireille Enos
Genre: Action, Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

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Zombie films have been used as allegory, with the zombies representing whatever the filmmakers want them to represent. For example,  George Romero’s classic horror movie Night of the Living Dead was released during the Cold War, so the zombie hordes in that film represented the threat of Communism.  He later made Dawn of the Dead, with its scenes of zombies mindlessly milling around a shopping mall, as a none-too-subtle dig at consumerism.  Other films have followed Romero’s example.  The Resident Evil movies show zombies as mindless puppets of an evil corporation, and the zombies in Edgar Wright’s excellent horror-comedy Shaun of the Dead represent Londoners mindlessly going about their daily lives (in fact, one of that film’s greatest jokes is that the heroes don’t know they’re in the middle of the zombie apocalypse until we’re over a half-hour into the movie).

If you have played the video game World War Z, congratulations; the film will not follow the game, and has an entirely different set of characters. However, I had high expectations for this film as there is said to be planned sequels (and after seeing it I can confirm this), and from the director himself that will resemble the vibe known from AMC’s: The Walking Dead. The World War Z film revolves around United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), who traverses the world in a race against time to stop a pandemic that is toppling armies and governments and threatening to decimate humanity itself.

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With the above being mentioned, Hollywood (and just about everybody else) thought Paramount’s opening of 3D World War Z (3,607 theaters), co-financed with Skydance Productions in association with Hemisphere Media Capital and GK Films, would flop. Instead, the zombie epic epidemic based on Max Brooks’ plague novel stunned with a $112M worldwide total(north of 150M to produce). Its $66M domestic cume is the the biggest opening for an original live action film since Avatar, according to Paramount. And its $46M international cume represents 25 markets which is only about 30% of the foreign marketplace. Top performers were Korea with $10.3M, UK with $7.1M, and Australia $5.5M.

World War Z is a bit different from your normal run of the mill zombie horror film. Where as in films such as 28 days Later where there is a long suspenseful lead up to the eventual zombie infestation, World War Z skips that build-up and hits the audience with the apocalypse not even a half hour into the film. Take it as the films strength (or weakness), this format makes the movie standout from the get go. Yes, on first thoughts after seeing the film it did irritate me a bit, since the movie seemed a bit rushed to my liking. However, nothing about this film is really slow. Even the very expensive CGI’d zombies in the film mirrored the films pace. The zombies are some of the fastest and most aggressive you will see in modern cinema for this genre.

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With Brad Pitt and Mireille Enos in the lead roles and a budget north of $150 million, World War Z commands attention. And, for the first two-thirds of its almost two-hour running time, it delivers. Even with a late assist from writer Damon Lindel of to shore up the finale, however, World War Z still suffers from what’s referred to as third-act problems. It builds and builds to what ultimately is an anti-climax. Since we now know that there will be more installments for World War Z, the ending of the film can receive a bit of an apology for its deflating nature. However, the one big criticism that this film needs is in the character development department.

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The characters in the film seemed really one dimensional and it was very hard to connect with Pitt and his family. Hopefully the second and third films of World War Z focus more on this aspect or else people might start to cheer for the zombies since it was hard to feel empathy for the main cast in this film. I understand that the director wanted to focus on the world situation/epidemic that was plaguing the globe, however, with a 2 hour run-time I expected that there was time in the film for a little more character depth and explanation then what was given to us.

With the above mentioned, this film gets a B- rating. As far as courting goes, this was my first date with the World War Z series, and like with most first dates we tend to only see the superficial and what’s on the surface. World War Z did just what I expected: showed me the superficial. There was not enough depth and the whole experience was very rushed and hollow. However, it did pique the interest of this reviewer enough, and I will be looking forward to see how the next installments build of the first in this trilogy.

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