Friday, June 28, 2013

The Case for Z

World War Z had a lot of good things going for it: Brad Pitt is almost always watchable, and Zombies.

Zombies are so hot right now – the ultimate brain dead baddie, not taken to shimmery sparklingness and fairly hard (though not impossible) to turn into romantic ideals (there has yet to be a Zombie that has fallen in love with Sookie on True Blood, but maybe that is next season).

And ever since 28 Days Later, they run and are so much the scarier for it.

World War Z starts with everywhere all at once being infected by a Zombie plague.  Quite how the virus spreads between continents considering the change takes about 12 seconds to occur is never really explained, nor how the only safe place on the planet appears to be Nova Scotia (surely a tropical island would be safer, and more appealing weather wise?).

Pitt plays Gerry Lane, an ex UN Special Agent (or somesuch), who seems surprised when, after being singled out for rescue because of his status, is then called upon to actually contribute to the planet-saving cause.  He then goes around the world to try and find a cure, encountering many a Zombie on the way.

As these Zombies do run, and bite, and overwhelm, and there are billions of them (overblown graphics show projected infection rates based on…?), they pose a lot of problems – which is all the fun in a Zombie movie.  Relentless, and stoppable only through acts of extreme violence, it is a lot of fun seeing them get mowed down, blown up, and otherwise incapacitated only to end up, eventually, victorious.

There is one huge drag factor to the whole film, and it is Lane’s family.  It is one thing to show him as a family man; it’s another thing to show the family as a burden, putting Lane into all sorts of danger even when they aren’t physically in his presence.  Once we are past the initial scene setting, they actually just become incredibly annoying, slowing things down and generally getting in the way of the action.

Elsewise, the characters other than Lane are all rather disposable.  Most are just cannon fodder, but some impart useful snippets of information that allow Lane to piece together an idea of what to do.  It is fairly clumsily handled to be honest, but it joins the dots in a way that makes it obvious to all.

Oddly enough, for a Zombie film, the movie refuses to show almost any blood on screen.  Limbs are hacked off, people (well zombies) beaten to bloody pulps, and there is much mastication on the bodies of the living, but almost none of this makes it on to the screen.  In fact, the whole thing seems a lot tamer than any episode of The Walking Dead, despite the much bigger budget and scope.

Nonetheless, it all comes together well enough to form a Zombie film that can entertain the whole family.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say completely enjoy it, as the family is just irksome and there are far too many zombie movie tropes in there to make this seem terribly original, but the final showdown is creepy and tense, and not even a terrible epilogue monologue (it is pretentious and awful and completely out of character with what came before) can spoil it.  Well, not much.

Verdict: World War Z is a solid, G-(ish) level Zombie movie.  Pitt plays Lane well, but then he has to as the only character who gets more than 10 lines.  It wasn’t worth seeing in 3D, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  6.5 Zeds out of 10.

No comments: