Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fast, Furious, and Stupid: World War Z (the movie)

If I were to give this movie a subtitle it would be "Fast, Furious, and Stupid."

It is already generally accepted that the only things the excellent and intelligently written book and this movie have in common are the title. I'm actually ok with that. I just hope that author Max Brooks is making a ton of cash off of this movie.

If watched solely as a big summer Hollywood thriller, WWZ works overall. It is a roller coaster of jumps and adrenaline thrill rides, strung together by the thinnest of logic. Don't turn your brain on and you'll have a wonderful ride.

And, I must admit, viewing it at home, where we could laugh at the dumb stuff, probably compensated for not seeing the visually impressive scenes on the big screen where they must have been truly spectacular.

The biggest problem with the film was that we only had one character to care about: Garry (Brad Pitt). He seemed in peril numerous times, but let's face it, we never too worried because he is the star of the movie. If anyone is going to make it to the end, it is the star and executive producer.

Some people live, many people die, but we weren't emotionally invested in any of them. Garry's wife and children, the fellow soldiers, the other experts ... none of them had enough character development or even camera time to allow us to see inside and care. I think of other thrill-ride movies with solo heroes: Die Hard, The Hunt for Red October (though I suppose we could argue for a dual hero motif in that one), Clear and Present Danger, and Aliens all come immediately to mind. Each of these had likable supporting characters whose deaths would have caused me emotional turmoil, not to mention how the movies' heroes would have felt. We got none of that from World War Z and that's the biggest crime a movie can commit ... robbing you of suspense and just taking you along for the ride.

What I liked:
  • The way Gerry was so interested, fascinated, and curious that he would continue observing behavior even when he was on the run. That was well shown and, of course, came in handy when he had a chance to slow down and put clues together.
  • The big action sequences. Those zombies spilling over the huge wall around Jerusalem made an arresting visual for the trailers and they were even more effective as one could see them spilling through the city which went in 10 seconds from zombie impact from being a safe zone to being a plague ridden place of terror.
  • Some of the little effects ... especially the zombies teeth snapping reflexively if they were kept from biting someone. When Gerry is on one side of a glass door and a zombie is on the other, there was something about that those teeth snapping that was kind of ... perfect.
  • Israeli soldiers ... tougher than nails and this movie takes full advantage of that fact.
What I didn't like ... and these are a token few items of the stupid "logic" being used throughout this thing (SPOILERS ... though I don't think these ruin anything and I tried to keep them vague):
  • The Captain Kirk investigation technique. So you have the world's one hope in a young brainiac who can analyze the date to find a cure for this zombie plague. What do you do? Send him to South Korea where you've lost contact with your military base and have no idea what's going on. And only send Brad Pitt and about five other guys to protect him. (What can I say. The U.N. is running this operation.)
  • The insistence on finding Patient Zero. Look, these aren't vampires. You don't have to find the Master Vampire and kill him so that all the others die (granted that is a Simpsons' Halloween episode, but still ... that's the sort of logic they're using). Do what anyone does fighting a disease. Catch a few zombies (just stick your arm out the door, that'll work) and start studying them. Sheez. (What can I say. The U.N. is running this operation.)
  • The logic behind the "cure." Both the "scientific precedent" cited and the cure were just about the most ridiculous things we ever heard. I know, I know, the U.N. is running this operation but even I can't blame them for this shoddy storytelling.
I also have two questions:
  • Can these zombies run faster than they did in real life? That's a heckuva virus. They're dead and decomposing but they can do a 10 second mile apparently.
  • Brad Pitt ... what will it take to make him cut his hair? Did his wife cut it with dull scissors? Please, man, give us a break already.
All that makes it sound as if I hated this movie and I did not. I enjoyed it a lot and gave it three out of five stars at Letterboxd. As I say, it works really well at home with popcorn to throw at the screen (which we had, thanks to my forethought), and like-minded pals to make smart aleck cracks ... or appreciative comments (we liked the use of the soda machine).

1 comment:

  1. I enjoy movies with plot, character, setting, exposition, and cinematography, and while I am against petty regulations, I do wish films were labeled with the minutes of CGI as fairness to the reader. The Narnia stories were ruined by lengthy fillers not in the books and by the bizarre cartooning.