Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Movie Reviews: World War Z (2013)

In general, I’m not a super big fan of zombie movies. But there are exceptions. I loved 28 Days Later for its simplicity and focus on survival. And I enjoy television’s The Walking Dead because so much is focused on the interactions of the human survivors.

And sometimes a simple shoot-em-up zombie flick can be fun. You go into those films without any reasonable expectations of it being anything more than a popcorn flick.

But World War Z tried to be something more, and for that reason it failed miserably. Brad Pitt plays an ex-United Nations operative recruited to track down the viral source – and therefore, however improbably, the cure – of a global zombie outbreak. His race around the world changes from seeking the source (which, for a viral epidemic, seemed rather useless to me from the get-go) to instead working on a sort of a cure or protection.

Normally a shoot-em-up zombie film can gloss over the details and whatever plot hole there may be are inconsequential to the film. But a film that this that focuses on finding a cure relies heavily on those details, and the plot holes themselves become overwhelming. (If, as the film awkwardly documents early on, it only takes 12 seconds for an infected person to proceed from exposure to outbreak, how was the virus spread globally through airplane travel? Even the most elite fliers couldn’t get through TSA security in under 12 seconds.)

Eventually you have to suspend your disbelief, which is hard when the film’s plot relies so heavily on so many contradictory details. As a character film, it fails. None of the characters are more than one dimensional cardboard cutouts. Not even Brad Pitt’s character, the only one who gets significant screen time. It’s hard to really care about what happens to them. And as an action flick, many of the zombie scenes were great at first, but in attempting an epic depiction of cities overrun, the action ended up being too removed and impersonal.

Still, I must admit that I was engaged. I watched the whole thing without getting distracted by my phone or by Facebook. So that’s something, I suppose. Perhaps a potential nominee for Favorite Guilty Pleasure? Not that it was that pleasurable, but I do feel guilty about even that faint praise.

Rating: 2 stars

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