World War Z
As far as movie goes zombies have been around since the thirties. Back then they served as the undead slaves of Bokors, evil practitioners of voodoo. After George Romero released his flick ‘Night of the Living Dead in 1968, it not only sparked the midnight movie phenomenon but it redefined the parts zombies could provide. Their stories have been used as commentary on social issues or straight forward horror. Now these lumbering menaces have taken their place in movies and television. Usually they are the looming epitome of death waiting around every corner forcing the survivors into the most primitive psychological mode a human can manifest; pure survival. In the film examined here, ‘World War Z’, the filmmaker took a different tack; a blend of mystery, espionage and conspiracy. The element of danger and constant need for hyper vigilance has been retained but now in the context of a global investigation to save humanity. There have been other endeavors to consider a zombie incursion and cultivation ending pandemic but this offering does come off as refreshingly novel. The top tier cast and visually interesting style capped by a Real 3D presentation goes a long way to set the movie apart from the typical horror variant. While there are some technical hindrances present the film does stand as solid entertainment.
Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), until fairly recently, was employed by the United Nations as an investigator. While sitting in his car with his wife Karin (Mireille Enos) and their two daughters, Rachel (Abigail Hargrove) and Constance (Sterling Jerins). Traffic in Philadelphia is especially heavy, the cause of which soon becomes apparent. A horde of zombies are rampaging through the streets. Even though the emphasis of this movie is the upcoming investigation it is mandatory that the words ‘Hordes’ and ‘Rampage’ must appear at some point in a review. The Lane family has to abandon their ride but manage to appropriate an RV to escape to New Jersey. Consistent with a common plot contrivance one of the girls, Rachel has a chronic medical condition, asthma, requiring the parents to stop at a chain pharmacy for the necessary medication. From there they find refuge in the apartment of a couple with a young son, Tomas (Fabrizio Zacharee Guido). Both parents are infected son the Lanes decide to look after the child.
All of this was just the wind up and means to introduce the principle characters and establish the coming apocalypse. Things really get started when Gerry receives a phone call from an old friend from the UN, Deputy Secretary-General Thierry Umutoni (Fana Mokoena). He has dispatched a helicopter for them, Tomas tags along. The immediate destination is a fleet of US Naval vessels docked of coast of NYC. Contained in the fleet is an assembly of scientist determined to uncover the cause, and more importantly, the cure for the zombification of the world. One of the lead scientists is a virologist, Dr. Andrew Fassbach (Elyes Gabel), who is certain there is a virus is responsible for the epidemic. What is needed before a vaccination and treatment can be created is to determine the source of the viral agent. Lane was the best investigator that Umutoni has ever worked with a reactivates him to track down that critical piece of information. To help Gerry agree his family has been removed to a secure location for their protection. Considering the state of the world that hardly seems like a threat. He acquiesces and is whisked off to a command post Camp Humphreys, a military base in South Korea. One aspect of the zombies that is a familiar manifestation of zombie lore is their attraction to sound. When a satellite phone goes off a zombie attack is inevitable and fatal to some members of the team serving to isolate the protagonist and reinforce the horrific circumstances. In order to avoid the transformation the captain in charge of the unit commits suicide.
The globe-trotting continues greatly expanding the scope of the story from the tradition isolate area or urban environment the majority of zombie tales unfold. This is done to redirect the onus from the effects of the outbreak to its origins. When Gerry goes to Israel he finds the Mossad had created an infection free zone in Jerusalem. The conspiracy theory plot device is activated here by inferring they somehow had advanced knowledge of the pandemic. That heads to a message received from India that their military began fighting dead spirits locally known as ‘rakshasa’. Attracted by the celebratory sounds by the people safe within the cordoned off section of Jerusalem, the zombie assembles en masse at the protective walls. Every zombie flick worth its salt needs a good siege scene. In addition to this requisite we get the ever popular drastic decision when a young woman, Segen (Daniella Kertesz), an Israeli soldier is bitten and must have the limb amputation to prevent the infection from going systemic. Considerable effort had gone in to portray here in a fashion designed to have the audience become emotionally attached to her thereby heightening the impact of this action.
Much of this film seems, at least superficially similar to other movies; ’28 Days’ and its sequel come readily to mind. As mentioned above the primary element that differentiates this offering is the global scope and underlying theme of solving a mystery. The screenwriters, Matthew Michael Carnahan and Drew Goddard, have placed this story in the psychological thriller instead of the more commonplace visceral gore fest that most horror treatments use. After notable performances in television’s ‘The Killing’ and ‘Big Love’ Mirielle Enos has proven to be an actress of considerable depth and talent. It is completely wasted in what amounts to be little more than a bit part. She might have been better utilized if permitted to demonstrate the emotional toil her husband’s assignment had on their family.
One unexpected difference from the typical zombie movie was the decision to release this film as a PG-13 movie. This did dilute the progression of the story to a notable degree but was alleviated to some degree by the Blu-ray release of the unrated version. This edition was in Real 3D which, no pun intended, added a new dimension to the presentation. The illusion of depth was utilized to provide a number of gimmicky effects that we have come to expect; objects thrusting out of the plane of the screen at the audience. Currently directors are learning to use 3D in a natural way enhancing the story telling. Director, Marc Forster, is definitely on the right track but is not up to the level of other trail blazers. He is a talented story teller with successes in action, ‘Quantum of Solace and emotionally insightful film, ‘The Kite Runner’, which translated well here. in this instance a 2D approach concentrating on the emotional and psychological aspects without concern for the 3D effects.
Behind The Scenes Featurettes: A Compelling Insider’s Look At The Creation Of The WWZ Apocalypse