World War Z – Review

Everybody loves zombies.  At any given time there is something zombie-related going on in film, television, gaming, books, graphic novels, comics . . . everywhere.  This probably has to do with the fact that it is hard to do zombies wrong.  There isn’t any complex motive or machinations – zombies are pretty straightforward.  On the other hand, this also makes it difficult for any tale of zombies to really stand out.

Apparently a lot.  Much the buzz the film has been getting hasn’t been anticipation but rather commentary on ballooning budget and production difficulties.  In the rumor-crazed world of  Hollywood, it’s hard to really know what all was going on, but Brad Pitt plus zombies?  Count me in.

The two elements that set World War Z apart are its speed and population.  Forget the long introduction and setup, you get thrown into crazed pandemonium quickly and it doesn’t let up for the entire film.  Speed is also an almost defining trait of World War Z’s zombies.  Gone is the slow, unstoppable surge that is the zombie norm.  These zombies are fast, agile, and ruthless.

This zombie thriller benefits from both state of the art CGI and a huge production budget.  The film employs numerous scenes where huge city centers full of civilians get overrun by an even more crazed zombies.  Though there were a few times when the CGI looked kind of fake, overall the effects were very well done.  When it comes to computer generated imagery, humanoids are the most difficult thing to design and create.  This is because we are all highly programmed (pun intended) to notice very minute differences in people.  As such, the slightest flaws in artificially created people are easily spotted as being fake.

It was never a distraction though and some of the scenes were extremely visually stunning.  Most zombie flicks show you the intimate struggle the main protagonists go through and explain how things are just as bad everywhere else.  World War Z actually shows just how bad everything on a very large scale.

After watching the film, I recommend reading about what the original ending of the film was supposed to play out here (that link and the rest of this paragraph contain spoilers . . . you have been warned).  It actually explains quite a bit because even though the film starts out huge, the scale of the mayhem increases as the film goes on, until you get to the last 20 minutes or so.  The ending employs only a handful of characters, and even though it pits them all in close and immediate danger, you can’t help but feel things have been deescalated.  Well, it now makes sense because this was all the re-shoot that was done because the original ending, though much grander, had a terrible ending and would have destined the film to failure.

The film doesn’t set a  new benchmark for zombie films, but it is very exciting and will keep you on the edge of your seat for the entire duration.  The producers are having the last laugh over the naysayers and there is talk of a trilogy.  It’s hard to know exactly what direction they’ll go for the sequels but I will definitely be there to watch them.



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