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Review: World War Z: It’s Raining ZEDS!

Zombies… They’re f*#king everywhere right now. Of all the folks that work here at NA, I’m probably the most tolerant of the zombie genre. It IS a genre now, right?  I grew up with zombie films, I’ve made zombie films with my friends for fun, and I’ve dressed up like a zombie on a few occasions and shambled around menacingly. I love zombies and apparently a lot of other people do too. Hell, AMC’s the “Walking Dead” is one of the most widely watched shows on cable right now, which is just nuts to me. Hollywood knows that zombies are “hot” right now, and when Hollywood sees an opportunity to make some cash, Hollywood makes a movie with Brad Pitt.

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“World War Z” has little to do with the beloved Max Brooks novel, so pretend the movie has a different title and save yourself some belly-aching. The film follows Brad Pitt (played by Brad Pitt) on a global adventure to investigate a rapidly spreading pandemic. Brad’s old job at the U.N. gives him a lot of perks that people don’t often have in zombie stories, so we actually get to see the government react to the global zombie outbreak. Normally we’re stuck inside of a farm house, mall, or abandoned prison, but “World War Z” brings us to large urban areas like Philadephia and Jerusalem. In terms of scale, this film is massive with thousands of zombies on screen at the same time. On many occasions the zombies were so great in number that they resembled ants piled on top of a hapless beetle or some other unlucky critter. It was both unsettling and fascinating to see so many writhing around… and in a lot of ways it reminded me of San Diego Comic-Con.

The plot in “World War Z” is incredibly basic and really just exists to serve a number of well executed action set pieces. If you’re looking for true character development and emotion, you’re probably better off watching the Walking Dead, or playing Naughty Dog’s excellent game, The Last of Us. From a writer’s perspective the plot of the film may seem overly simplistic or convenient, but I couldn’t help but enjoy my time with the film. It’s a summer action film about zombies, and people should probably treat it as such.

The zombies in “World War Z”, lovingly referred to as “Zeds” (much to the chagrin of actual people named Zed all over the world), are fast as hell, and that’s how the virus spreads. Within ten seconds of being scratched or bitten, theZOmbies_Falling average person changes into a fast moving feral monster. With a global population over seven billion people (last I checked), that makes for a whole lot of potential predators. The transformation process is a frightening one with violent muscle spasms and bulging googly eyes. The zombies in the film have no regard for their own well being and willingly toss themselves from tall buildings at every available opportunity. So many falling zombies!  Late in the film we get a nice look at how the zombies move and hunt, and it’s pretty damn disturbing. Unlike many other zombie films where you probably say to yourself “I could totally survive this”, the zombies in “World War Z” make survival a statistical impossibility.

Gore fans might be bummed to hear that there is next to no blood and guts in “World War Z”. Most of the ultra-violence happens off camera and leaves the dismemberment and head-shots to one’s imagination. The choice to make the film PG-13 was an interesting one, and was done without a doubt to maximize box office revenue. In the end, I didn’t really miss the exploding heads and lopped off limbs… I’ve seen it all before. Does this mean I’m growing up?

SEGENBrad Pitt does a great job as a bewildered and exhausted family man that wants nothing more than to protect his wife and kids. Most of the other characters in the film only have minor roles to play with the exception of the character of Segen played by relative newcomer Daniella Kertesz. About mid way through the film Segen becomes Pitt’s stalwart road-buddy and has a hand full of kick ass moments. I enjoyed Kertesz’s work quite a lot and look forward to seeing her in more American films.

“World War Z” is unlike any zombie film I’ve seen in recent years. With a larger scope than even 28 Days Later, “World War Z” manages to paint a bleak and terrifying picture of the zombie apocalypse on truly global scale. Even people that are sick of zombies will no doubt find the action and adventure aspects of this film appealing.