World War Z ~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp
In World War Z, zombies (otherwise known as the “undead”) are attempting to take over the world. We never learn where they came from or how they got started, only that they have overrun entire cities almost before anybody knew what was happening. These zombies are repulsive, slavering, tooth-snapping, unthinking beasts. Their skin looks like it is covered with boils or pustules and their eyes are vacant and bug-like. They are very aggressive and make a kind of croaking sound when they are thwarted in their desires or when one of their number is killed. Their one intent is to infect the uninfected. After a person is bitten, it takes him or her about twelve seconds to turn into a zombie. Once turned, a zombie’s one mission in life is to make other zombies. If these zombies eat flesh, we never see it.
As always in movies of this kind (whether the attacker is an alien life form, giant bugs, reawakened prehistoric monsters, vampires, the undead, an unknown virus, etc.) there is a protagonist who is (or becomes) a reluctant hero. The reluctant hero in World War Z is Brad Pitt (badly in need of a haircut). And, as you might expect, he has a perky wife in tight blue jeans and two adorably precious daughters who you know are going to be in deadly peril before too long. (It’s usually girls in these movies because girls scream louder than boys and register fear more dramatically.)
Brad Pitt plays Gerry Lane, a former United Nations employee who, we are told (if you can follow the mumbled dialogue), was present during several dangerous “crises” throughout the world and helped to diffuse them. (We assume, then, that he was a kind of problem solver for the U.N.) When the movie begins, though, he has had some kind of trouble in his job and has left it, becoming, instead a pancake-cooking, stay-at-home daddy. When the zombie crisis heats up just a few minutes into the movie, he is recruited by his former boss at the U.N. to lend his talents to the fight. He reluctantly leaves his wife and children aboard a naval destroyer two hundred miles out from New York City to go and see how he might save mankind.
In witnessing zombie attacks, Gerry Lane discovers that zombies seem to leave certain individuals alone. These individuals are unappealing to zombies because, he ascertains, they are ill in some way. (Predators, we are told, will pass up potential prey that is ill or dying.) This gives him the idea of infecting people with a deadly but curable disease to make them immune to zombie attacks. No matter how horrible it is to be injected with a disease, it’s still not as bad as being turned into a zombie. If his theory works, it could turn the tide in the zombie war.
World War Z is the first big-budget ($175 million) zombie movie in 3D with a big star in the lead. With its obvious clichés, it has a few scary moments, as when the zombies make a mountain out of themselves (like very nasty ants) to scale a very high wall to get to the humans on the other side or when zombies take over an aircraft and bring it down. The zombies themselves aren’t all that scary until you see them up close, and that doesn’t happen until the second half of the movie. If you’re expecting a lot of blood and gore and people being devoured, you’re going to be disappointed. Even when Gerry Lane cuts off the hand of a young Israeli soldier to save her life after she has been bitten by a zombie, we never see the severed hand or any blood. Maybe the scariest thing in World War Z is Brad Pitt’s hairdo.
Copyright © 2013 by Allen Kopp