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World War Z: Zombie Apocalypse Done Right

June 22, 2013

World War Z movie poster

I read World War Z on a much delayed plane to Scotland in 2006 and I really enjoyed the experience. It was fun, inventive and came out of nowhere. When I heard Brad Pitt signed on to produce and star in the movie my curiosity was piqued. How could they pull off the multiple viewpoints and huge moments? The answer is, they didn’t. It would have been impossible and very expensive.  I never could have predicted this but I really enjoyed World War Z. In a day and age where most actions films involve conflicted superheroes destroying cities (Avengers, Batman, Man of Steel, Iron Man, Spiderman, Star Trek) or The Rock sweating (FF6, GI Joe 2, Snitch) it was nice to watch a human named Jerry travel the globe while surrounded by interesting character actors, angry undead and real stakes. WWZ was fun, tense and refreshing for a film about a zombie apocalypse. There was a call back to the Zombie Survival Guide too.

World War Z had everything going against it. The film suffered through reshoots, rewrites, delays, insanely fast zombies and an odd choice for director. However, it is the most pleasant surprise of the summer. What could have easily have been soul crushing is now tense, smart and lots of fun. Brad Pitt carries himself stoically while chaos reigns around him. Also, the character actors around him James Badge Dale, David Morse, Peter Capaldi, Ruth Negga, Moritz Bleibtreu are all very interesting and add gravitas to a film about fast undead people biting humans.

World War Z is the story of a man named Jerry who travels from Philadelphia, South Korea, Jerusalem and Wales looking for a cure/source to the plague. Along the way he survives fast zombies, massive walls being overrun and plane crashes to find a cure. The movie has a nice progression, feels confident in it’s execution and is refreshing in how human it is. I’ve grown tired of superheroes punching each other through buildings so when movies like Fast and Furious 6 and World War Z come along I really appreciate them. Also, at first I disliked the look of the zombie hordes climbing over each other but when it happened I was invested and totally bought into it.

World War Z zombie tower

Brad Pitt is believable as a former UN investigator who gets tasked to find the cure in order for his family to be safe. What I love is the odds are incredibly stacked against him but he always keeps moving and finds ways to survive despite having thousands of angry undead chasing him. Pitt would have done just fine alongside Iko Uwais or Karl Urban in The Raid or Dredd (watch and you will understand). The movie builds an effective sense of dread in the opening Philadelphia moments and grows into a globe-trotting search for a cure. It is a lean, mean and an incredibly fun machine that is surprisingly well reviewed (70% Rt).

The finale which was written by Drew Goddard and Damon Lindelof is a highlight of the film. Pitt has found himself in a research facility in Wales and has figured out how to give humanity hope. The problem is that he has to travel through Hall B. An incident occurred while studying the disease and now it is loaded with 80 angry infected scientists. So, they lock the doors behind him and he has to travel through the claustrophobic halls in order to get where he needs to be. The finale is loaded with cool actors, intelligent motivations and a lot of jaw clicking.

World War z is smart, tense and surprising well made. It made it through its tough production and became a cohesive and entertaining film. Watch it. Like it. Read the book. Appreciate the Pitt.

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