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Movie Review: 'World War Z'

World War Z 

Starring: Brad Pitt, Mirielle Enos, Daniela Kertesz, James Badge Dale, Fana Mokoena, and David Morse.  

Directed by Marc Forster

 Rated PG-13


Many of us have been waiting for this day for quite some time.  It began for us when we read Max Brooks’ brilliant diary/novel describing the post-apocalyptic events of a worldwide zombie war and its ongoing effects.  When we learned that it was being adapted into a big screen rendition anxiously passed the time by watching The Walking Dead television series in order to keep our zombie IQ’s sharp and we continuously trolled the internet for all the late-breaking news surrounding the production of this film.  We waited a long time for this as this is our D day, or more appropriately, our Z day  - and I have to warn you that I’m about to issue a huge spoiler.  Read no further if you dare, but the movie that was released today, World War Z, starring Brad Pitt, is NOT the book.  I repeat, World War Z "the movie" is NOT World War Z the book.  With that said, World War Z "the movie" is an exciting action thriller that will have you leaning forward in your seat.  In fact, because it is nothing like the book you don’t know what’s coming next and that translates into an edge of your seat fun ride as you watch the undead take over the earth.  It is everything you hope for in a summer blockbuster. 


World War Z is all about Brad Pitt.  He bought the books' rights, brought in Marc Forster to direct, produced it and used it as a vehicle to cast himself as an action figure.  Some people may have an issue with that, but after seeing it, I do not.  The movie also stars; Mireille Enos (The Killing), Daniella Kertesz, Fana Mokoena (Safe House), James Badge Dale (The Grey), and David Morse

The film opens with former U. N. Investigator Gerry Lane (Pitt) and his wife, Karin (Enos) being awakened by their young exuberant children, Constance (Sterling Jerins) and Rachel (Abigail Hargrove) as they might on any typical day.  They goof around, eat breakfast and then head out to start their days.  It doesn’t take long for that typical day to go to hell when a massive traffic jam in Philadelphia erodes into a terrifying flight for survival as we get our first glimpse of the swarming zombie hordes, or zekes as we learn to call them.  They engulf everyone in their path and only the lucky escape.  The Lanes are among the lucky. 

Although he has a fairly impressive directing resume, many thought the choice of Foster to helm such an epic film would end in disaster.  Early reports of trouble on the set seemed to validate those fears and when word leaked that the first film screening was a disaster, it gave those same doomsayers a gleeful “told you so”.  But Pitt would not be beat and he convinced his partners to pony up more cash, and brought in screenwriters Damon Lindelof and Drew Goddard to fix the ending.  I don’t know what that first version looked like, and I don’t really care as this one works just fine and avoids the questionable plot lines that usually surround Lindelof projects.     

Gerry learns from the U.N. Under-Secretary-General Thierry Umutoni (Mokoena) that entire cities have fallen to the zekes and the only way to stop them is to find the cause of the outbreak.  Gerry’s quest begins in South Korea on a rain soaked American military base with a group of experienced zeke fighting soldiers, but leaves without his answer.  Next stop is Jerusalem who built a giant anti-zombie wall around the holy city.   Gerry is assigned a small band of soldier protectors including the tough-as-nails Segan (Kertesz).   Once things begin to crumble the two of them are off to the next spot on the globe in their desperate search for hope.

Forster keeps the film speeding along from one catastrophe to the next.  Humankind is rapidly losing to the epidemic and like previous zombie movies, there is nothing to suggest that anyone gets out alive.  You can run, you can hide, but eventually the zombies will get you.  Forster and company’s decision to make the World War Z zombies swarm like ants might be the most original, visually stunning and most unnerving part of the film.  That is what sets this apart from all the other zombie movies, shows, books, etc.  The only other film that I know of where the zombies were not slow shuffling was Zack Snyder’s 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake.  (28 Days Later doesn’t count – they weren’t zombies).  Zombies are scary enough when they can be outrun, but ones that can run, jump and climb like crazed ants would be downright terrifying.  Go see this film and consider it part of your zombie apocalypse training program.   

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