Friday, April 4, 2014

War Of The Dead!

I saw World War Z a few weeks ago, and I will give it its due -- it delivers the zombies. There are zombies clambering all over the screen almost all the time in this wild ass action flick. It's supposed to be a horror movie, but it's not really. You might dub it a "monster movie" since it features acres and acres of zombies, but there's almost no tension nor little suspense to be had. They try it a few times, but it doesn't really work.

The movie's best sequence (and there are a few worthy ones I'll admit) is the fall of Jerusalem.  It's the sequence which made me want to see this movie, the infamous scene in which squirming towers of zombies wriggle up one another to ascend like relentless and  malevolent undead ants.

The story behind this blockbuster sequence is a relatively simple one. A plague of zombies strikes across the globe and United Nations troubleshooter Gerry Lane, who has to leave his family after being run out of  Philadelphia by way of Newark, investigates the outbreak. He travels to Korea where clues suggest the plague began, then to Jersualem where it's suggested that Israel might've had forewarning, and later still to Wales where facilities might remain to develop a response to the infestation.

Everywhere Gerry goes, he finds zombies moaning and wailing and gnashing their teeth eager to spread the plague which moves and motivates them still. Human beings are reduced to aggressive messengers for a plague which turns you from human to zombie in a few seconds. The distinctive thing about this particular zombie apocalypse is the rate of expansion, which is monumental and results in waves of zombies overwhelming the humans who flee before them.

I'm usually impressed with Brad Pitt. I actually like him on screen, though his real life persona is so strange and unappealing. He has for many years demonstrated a willingness to play off-the-wall characters. This movie showcases him and he's frankly not that interesting. For one thing he needed to cut his hair; the long hair Lane sports in this movie annoys me no end, as Pitt is forever knocking it out of his face. He's too much like real-world Pitt. I don't know why precisely, but he doesn't come across convincingly, something Pitt usually does for me. Many of the supporting cast are great, especially Danielle Kertesz who plays an Israeli soldier who ends up tagging along with Lane. David Morse pops up out of nowhere in a small part as a slightly mad CIA agent who has some real insights into the horror and steals the show for a few minutes. 

World War Z is a perfectly fine disaster movie, with zombies filling in for the requisite comets, tsunamis, earthquakes, sharks, or volcanic eruptions. What the movie is about really is what all such movies are about and that's how fragile human society is, how little it takes to undermine the connections which make modern culture click. Like all disaster movies it shows human beings in dangerous scenarios behaving bravely, cowardly, or some way in between. Like most such flicks, the message is that human society is soft and fragile, but human beings as individuals can be resilient and can maintain in the most severe circumstances. WWZ fits right into this mold.

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