Friday, June 21, 2013

World War Z vs....World War Z?

* Please note that the following review contains spoilers for both World War Z the novel and the movie. *

So it's pretty rare that I go to the movie theater, rarer still that I go see a movie during it's opening weekend, and even more rare than that that I bother to review a movie. In this case, though, having recently read and reviewed World War Z by Max Brooks, I'm inspired to review the movie World War Z.

I've only recently become pretty obsessed with zombies. I'm not really sure why that is, as I saw and enjoyed movies like 28 Days Later and I Am Legend (yes, I know that the creatures in the latter are not traditional zombies due to the facts that they can't stand sunlight and that eventually Will Smith's character finds a "cure" to make them "human" again, but I'm throwing Legend into this category because it's similar in that it deals with infected humans who turn into something nonhuman).

Of course, having read the book and knowing what I knew about the movie - that it was filmed, then put aside for a while, only to be taken back up and have some things re-filmed/new parts added - I wasn't expecting much. Thankfully, this time I was able to separate the book from the movie before seeing the latter - something I can admittedly rarely do. But I knew just from the brief plot synopsis that this was very loosely based on Max Brooks' novel, and I also knew that there was no way they could tell that entire story in a two-ish hour long movie.

If you can do that - separate the movie from the book - then World War Z is pretty damn enjoyable. The few times I was really taken out of the storyline was when they clearly tried to pull in lines from the text - for example, during the first few minutes lead character Gerry's meeting with Jurgen Warmbrunn in Jerusalem.

And speaking of Jerusalem, I have to admit that was the one change I wasn't too fond of - that they brought in the storyline of how Israel walled itself off, but was letting healthy people in...aaand then proceeded to ruin that by having the zombies overrun the city anyway. That whole scene was clearly there as an additional action sequence, but I just can't figure out why, with everything else that happened in the movie, it was necessary.

As for the zombies themselves, while plenty was left up to the imagination in the novel, I think they were a bit more like "super undead" in the film...yet at the same time, there were moments when the audience was actually laughing in response to things they did (particularly when Gerry is in the W.H.O. hospital). I'm fairly certain no part of this movie should have elicited such a reaction as laughter, yet even I couldn't suppress a chuckle when Gerry was stuck in the W.H.O. disease storage locker and one of the zombies is standing outside the door clacking its teeth at him...over and over and over again.

Still, for everything they got wrong with World War Z, they got several more things right. Had the novel been made into a miniseries, for instance, they would have probably had more luck in keeping it close to the book with its post-zombie-war interview format - but in a movie that lasts just a couple of hours, they needed the additional human factor that Gerry, his family, Segen, and even the little boy Tomas gave it.

Of course, some of that 'human factor' wasn't handled all that well - young Dr. Fassbach's premature death, never finding out what happened to the men at the army base in South Korea, and the altogether too-happy ending in which it turns out that Gerry's concerns over his family's relocation to the Novia Scotia safe zone were completely unfounded and all of them - even Tomas - alive and well.

Personally, I also would have liked to see them realize the zombies in the water, but hey, I guess we can't have it all.

And besides, Brad Pitt was as always damn fun to look at watch.

In the end, World War Z the movie is admittedly less intriguing and original than the novel that it pretty much just took its name (and a few other minor plot points, most of which were changed anyway) from...but I believe it is what it sets out to be: a zombie movie for people who aren't all that into zombies, yet also a zombie movie for those of us who have been missing those fast-moving "gonna launch themselves through the air to bite ya" undead that are missing from, say, The Walking Dead.

What I'm saying is, this movie is worth a chance. If you've read the book but can separate the movie from it, or if you haven't read the book and just want an action movie with a bit more drama and humanity (and I guess, un-humanity? anti-humanity? heh) in the very least World War Z is good entertainment.
Plus, you know, Brad Pitt. ;)
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