7. World War Z (PG-13) - Runtime: 116 minutes
Starring: Brad Pitt, Marieille Enos
Director: Marc Forster
Writers: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard, Damon Lindelof
Much has been written about the production of this movie - the completely re-shot third act, the overblown budget, Brad Pitt's hair - but ultimately, it's still a movie and the only real factor that counts is how the finished product ends up. And despite some minor setbacks, this was a fun movie that isn't a Debbie Downer like most zombie shows or movies. This is one big action movie that happens to involve zombies. And I really enjoyed it!
Let's just get this out of the way: this is nothing like the book at least where the plot is concerned. And why should it be? The book is an oral history that covers multiple characters, settings and stories - it would be near impossible for a movie to be anything like the book. You'd have to do a Band of Brothers-type miniseries - and I don't think any studio would bite because The Walking Dead has got a monopoly on zombie-themed TV shows. As long as the themes and tone of the book are in the movie, I'm fine with that. And although I've never read the book, this is a pretty good zombie flick, regardless of connecting points to the source material.
The other problem people seem to have is it's PG-13. How can you have a zombie movie that's PG-13? Well, it's not gory - and that's fine! Honestly, a zombie's a zombie, that is to say, you don't need lots of blood and guts to make sure audiences know what they're looking at! I think sometimes the gore gets in the way of telling a good story and to me this was refreshing - you let the characters and action dictate where you eye goes - not some bloated zombie with its guts hanging out, picking away at someone's brain.
I'm not saying the story was powerful - this is, by and large, a big action movie with plenty of big set pieces. But the story was decent enough and the action was satisfying - you're immediately thrown into the mix as the zombie virus infects Philadelphia within the first 10 minutes of the movie. And then we follow Brad Pitt around the globe, literally, as he tries to figure out a way to fight the virus. And as awesome as some of the big set pieces (especially in Jerusalem and in the plane) - the movie suddenly takes a much needed (and obviously low-budgeted) turn into the third act within the corridors of a science research laboratory. I really loved how this movie covered these big action sequences while also showing quieter and much more tense moments during the last part.
A lot of this movie reminded me of War of the Worlds - the Tom Cruise sci-fi remake that had its flaws, but ultimately was a fun "event" movie. The only really big problems I had was the use of a Muse song that evokes Tubular Bells from The Exorcist - they use it at least 5 or 6 times during the movie and while I do enjoy the song (and Muse for that matter), it was way overplayed and didn't seem appropriate at times. The other major problem was the sappy ending narrated by Pitt - it's just completely cliched and dumb - seriously, it doesn't have one ounce of creativity, they just slapped together a bunch of inspiring phrases (the war has just begun; if you can fight, fight). It just seemed too nice and hokey. Puke.
World War Z is not without its flaws and it's not the best zombie movie out there (28 Days Later kindly raises its hand), but this was a fun, big-time action flick that has some great moments. If you're up for a little more frightening version of Contagion, this is right up your alley.
Rating: See It!