World War Z is one of the best zombie films to come out in years. Now, I know that’s not saying much, but I also know it kept me on the edge of my seat for much of its duration, and that’s pretty much all I ask for when I walk into a zombie film. Marc Foster managed to direct the first zombie film that feels truly epic in scale. This isn’t the tale of a family trapped inside a mall or a couple taking refuge in a house. World War Z is about a global epidemic that needs to be stopped before it’s too late.
With a budget of over $200 million, this is the most expensive zombie film ever made. The film shifts into full gear right from the opening scene. No time is wasted on establishing the family or repetitive shots of ordinary life getting interrupted. We’re thrown right at the twitch of chaos and the tension never drops a notch.
After zombies start running around spreading the disease along the way, we see Gerry (Brad Pitt) and his family running into a supermarket to stock up on food and medications. This is pretty much standard human behavior. Whenever chaos breaks off, the first that comes to mind are the very things you’ll need to survive; naturally, food is at the top of that list. Anyway, something very interesting happens in that scene that isn’t important to the plot.
They rush inside and see dozens of people grabbing everything they can in a frenzied manner. A moment later, they decide to split up. Gerry walks over to the pharmaceutical section and the wife stocks up on food. We follow Gerry as he gets asthma medication for his daughter when suddenly the scream of his wife sends him rushing over to the food isle. We see his wife on the floor fighting off two men attempting to rape her. Gunshots are fired, and Gerry shoots down one of the looters. At that precise moment, a cop walks by and sees the killing. Gerry raises his hands, but the cop walks right past him like nothing happened. The thing I love most about apocalyptic films is observing how humans act in anarchic scenarios. Most films don’t bother to show that angle of chaos, but World War Z is smarter than most zombie films.
You see, in the midst of chaos, the whole system we’re used to falls apart. A cop typically paid to protect and serve simply becomes a man in a uniform. Priorities change, he thinks of his own survival, his family, his future. He sees a man killing another, but doesn’t bother to do anything about it. In the midst of turmoil, it’s every man for himself. I said that this isn’t important to the plot of the film, and it’s true it plays no significance whatsoever to the storyline, but it is extremely important to the film itself. You see, the little things that feel true to human nature are elements that pull viewers in. Directors often don’t pay much attention to background behavior, but it’s often the key to making viewers forget that what they’re watching isn’t real. The danger in World War Z felt real and authentic and that’s why it works as a thriller. That being said, the film does have its flaws. It feels rushed and could’ve dwelled more on character development. The acting feels somewhat flat and Brad Pitt seems to have put little effort into his performance. But the thing that bothered me most is a scene set in Palestine aka Israel. We see Palestinians and Israelis singing together in unity.
That’s perfectly fine and believable since humans tend to unite when they have a common enemy. What bothered me is the repercussion this act of unity caused. You see, when they sing together, the sound attracts the attention of thousands of zombies and this becomes the end of Jerusalem. Now, I don’t know what kind of political subliminal message this is meant to send out to the millions of subconscious minds watching this film but if there’s any meaning behind this, World War Z may be just as contaminating as the virus infecting the human race within the story.
Nevertheless, I disregarded it the way I disregard forced product placement in films and had an overall pleasant time at the movies. The film perfectly sets up an inevitable sequel that will probably be less of a detective story and more of a war film. Rither way, I’m interested enough to anticipate what happens next in this alternative world. Bring on World War Z: II.