Why World War Z is Kinda Awesome

"With an unprecedented scope for a zombie film, Brad Pitt’s pet project, World War Z tries to breathe new life into the genre, but in the end, falls a little short."

First off, I’m a big zombie fan. Movies, books, games, comics; pretty much anything to do with zombies is great to me. So, it was only natural that I go and see World War Z.

World War Z (in case it wasn’t obvious from the title) is based on a war between humans and zombies. A virus breaks out and we follow one man’s mission to save the world: think James Bond meets zombies. What makes this different from every other zombie film is its scope, a full globe-trotting adventure taking the protagonist (played excellently, as usual, by Brad Pitt) all over the world.

The story itself is pretty good and acted near enough perfectly by everyone involved. However, there are certain aspects of the film and certain decisions made by characters that don’t quite ring true. Not to mention that the last third is a pretty big tonal shift, something that was pretty well known before the release of the film as massive rewrites and re-shoots of the third act were all reported. Frankly, it could be considered a miracle that the film turned out as well as it did, based on the behind the scenes reports coming out around Christmas last year (when the film was originally meant to be released).

"ZOMBIE PIIIIIILE!"

Something I particularly liked about this film was the approach to zombies it had. For example, in a lot of media you have two particular styles of zombies: the classic Romero style zombies which are very slow moving, and the Dawn of the Dead 2004 remake style zombies which are very fast moving and can run without halting as they don’t have the metabolic functions and limitations living people have. In this film, the zombies are very much the Dawn 2004 style zombies and they certainly do run. The film wouldn’t work if they weren’t the fast moving zombies as this plays a big role in the horror of the film. The main factor differentiating these zombies from most, if not all other portrayals, is their ability to essentially pile on top of each other. Though as an idea on paper this may not sound particularly good or believable, as an aspect of the film this works brilliantly and is a great setup for some of the best parts of the film.

Make no mistake, I may have already described this film as a globe-trotting adventure film, but it is definitely a horror film. Though there are few jump scares, it is a horror film in more the idea of what would happen if a virus were to overtake the human race on a global scale.

You may have heard of the eponymous book that this film is based on, a truly awesome read that I’d probably say is better. However, the film and book are different beasts so to compare them directly would be unfair to them both. One aspect the book definitely has over the film is the believability of protagonists. Whereas the book contains a lot of protagonists (it’s written as a post-war report on what happened to a lot of the people involved instead of telling it as it happens), it manages to make them all believable in what they do, what they think and how they come across. While I have already said that the acting in the film is good, the set pieces and story betray it somewhat by making some characters survive certain situations which, realistically speaking, probably wouldn’t happen. The worst offender for this is a scene towards the end of the film which will require every bit of your suspension of disbelief to get past.

"Zombie Apocalypse-proof hair gel: check"

Another aspect that also doesn’t really work in favour of the film is the ending, as it all feels a little rushed; as if the writer/s were trying to both tie everything up and leave enough loose ends for a sequel to pick up. The problem with this approach is that the ending has to work on two fronts, when they are polar opposites. Admittedly, some films have been able to pull off this kind of ending, but I don’t think it ever works very well in apocalyptic films and instead they require a definitive ending, which couldn’t be delivered because of the possibility of turning it into a franchise. It’s a pity that the third act doesn’t quite come together satisfactorily, but the rest of the film is pretty solid.

This film reportedly cost $200 million to make, which is pretty typical these days for a summer blockbuster. However, when you consider that nearly every other zombie film ever made cost less than $10 million to make (many costing a few hundred thousand), and the highest grossing zombie film only made $100 million, it kind of puts it into perspective how much faith was put into this film (and its leading man) to bring in the money. If my visit to the cinema was any indication, it’s going to do fine. In fact, I think the sequel may already be in the works.

As a final thought: we still can’t all agree on how it should be pronounced: World War Zee or World War Zed. Comment and let us know what you think.

Til next time, this has been Jubby writing for the Awesome Update.

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