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Science Fiction Movies, The Wonder of the Cinema

#63 World War Z

World War Z

Brad Pitt leads the cast

Brad Pitt leads the cast

Superhero films, musicals, zombie films, vampire and werewolf films.  Their popularity ebbs and flows.  At the moment the zombie genre is flying high thanks to AMC’s The Walking Dead and the Brad Pitt action/adventure film World War Z.  The film is based on the 2006 apocalyptic horror novel, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, by Max Brooks.  While the novel approaches the subject of a zombie apocalypse by looking backwards from the perspective of the survivors, the film details the initial outbreak and worldwide panic that ensues.

Daniella Kertesz as Segen

Daniella Kertesz as Segen

Brad Pitt’s character, Gerry Lee, is a former UN investigator.  He’s been to some of the worst places on Earth, but with this new crisis he is forced back into service to find the origin of the outbreak.  With the source identified, the scientists might be able to synthesize a cure.  World War Z takes the viewer on a wild ride through a variety of war-torn and devastated areas, a seemingly abandoned South Korean airbase, the walled city of Jerusalem, a rag-tag convoy of survivors in the Atlantic Ocean, and a medical research lab in Wales.

Despite reports of production difficulties, multiple weeks of reshoots, and a quick rewrite of the final act of the film, the final product is solid.  Normally when a film is plagued with such problems the final film is dreadful.  The performances by the actors, especially Israeli actress Daniella Kertesz as Segen, are rather good.  The special effects also hold up well and clearly are accounted for in the estimated $190 million budget.

When in doubt, break out the crowbar...

When in doubt, break out the crowbar…

Each film which delves into the zombie genre wrestles with one central problem.  How exactly are the dead reanimated?  What makes a seemingly dead corpse rise up and go on a killing rampage?  Here, thanks to the technical acumen of Brad Pitt’s character and a number of scientists he meets throughout the film, the audience is given something of an answer.  They

suggest a virus.  It is a pretty standard suggestion, but what is different it Pitt’s character’s solution(or as he calls it “camouflage”) to the zombie plague.  I won’t give it away, but it is fairly unique in the zombie genre.  Additionally I did like the nod to Gordon Freeman from the video game Half-Life when Brad Pitt resorts to using a crowbar on the zombies.

World War Z is a good action film with some moments of deeper inquiry into life and the human condition.  Considering the myriad of problems the production ran into it is a wonder that a film that is as solid as this would be the product.  It’s rated PG-13 for “intense frightening zombie sequences, violence and disturbing images” and not a film suitable for younger viewers.

Reportedly a sequel is in the works.

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About Rob Sterner

English teacher, Film buff, Filmmaker, Writer, Musician, Photographer, Runner, Taoist, Thinker, List maker...

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