Sunday, June 30, 2013


Review by James Colt Harrison

Brad Pitt’s World War Z is not like an old fashioned zombie movie. This mega-budget film from Paramount Pictures and director Marc Forster is based on the book by Max Brooks, but deviates from the printed page with spectacular visuals shot from Malta to Scotland to Israel. Hollywood’s capture of the special effects “craft” has gone beyond the dazzling and the sensational stunts of yesteryear.  It’s hard to tell where the wizardry leaves off and the real locations take over. There are plenty of scenes for the viewer to ponder over, wondering “how did they do that?!”

The plot is one of those convoluted ones that Hollywood seems to be fond of skewering the public with these days. Half the time you don’t know which end is up. Thanks go to screenwriters Matthew Carnahan, Drew Godard, and Damon Lindelof for throwing in the perplexing factor of not really knowing what’s going on until it dawns on you half-way through the film. Getting smacked over the head with a 2x4 helps.

Apparently Pitt is a retired U.N. employee. No telling how high up he was in the organization. Was he a janitor? Was he Secretary General? No explanation as to why he’s coddled by the military. That’s how he knows all the generals and helicopter pilots who can save him and his family. He’s recruited to find out what is causing a viral strain to turn people into zombies. Pitt is hooked up with the Navy SEALS because of his investigative prowess and apparently is savvy enough to head the world investigation. Either that, or it’s because he’s a movie star.

Well, Heaven only knows what happens from here on, but there are lots of mind-boggling explosions, building collapses and thousands of zombies trying to climb what appears to be the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. The zombies probably didn’t know all you have to do is leave your message or prayer on a little piece of paper and stick it into the wall at the bottom. Then they wouldn’t have to endure all of those other zombies stepping on their heads to breach the wall. It’s just (sub) human nature to climb all over everybody to get to the top.

Brad Pitt has never looked worse. He’s even dirtier and scruffier than the un-dead zombies. He apparently has had a tiff with the makeup and wardrobe people because of the downright sabotage shown in his skid row-like appearance. Cinematographer Robert Richardson couldn’t do much with making the formerly handsome Pitt look less like an intergalactic bum. Pitt needs to be held down by two of the burly SEALS and given a good scrubbing with an iron brush and some caustic soap (same as used in my pen).

The film has plenty of thrills and chills, and the $200 million spent on production show mostly on the screen. An extensive re-write and re-shooting plagued the film after completion because the bosses at Paramount didn’t think the ending was good enough. Back to the sound stages! It’s hard to say which scenes have improved the movie. All in all it’s an enjoyable film for those who love zombies, action, explosions and the usual trappings of monumental special effects. It’s a great summer movie, and young boys to twenty-somethings should revel in the (suggested) filth and stench of the zombies. They love that sort of thing. To tell you the truth, this reviewer rather enjoyed it, too!

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