Stars: 8 / 10
Director: Marc Forster
Main Cast: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos,Fana Mokoen, Daniella Kertes
More than I expected! WWZ kept my heart racing, one scene after another. Several high-anxiety scares, jumpy boo-scares, a plane crash, a good pace of action combined with impressive special effects, a creative outcome, a hint of social metaphor, and likable heroes make this a win-win zombie apocalyptic thriller.
Rather than a mind-numbing and stomach-churning gore fest, this film leaves a lot to the viewer's imagination, which made it all the more terrifying. We know the crowbar is stuck in the zombie's head, and yeah, NOT seeing it, but just hearing it and imagining it was 100% successful at being both gross and scary, probably more so than seeing the goo and guts would have been.
I also appreciated that the non-zombie people in this film looked very real: people looked makeup-less, hair was messy, and wrinkles were aplenty.
An additional nod to the butt-kickin' female soldier sidekick, Segen (played by Daniella Kertes) who was never stereotyped into a sex toy (for being a pretty face with breasts) nor a macho-dyke (for being a bald woman with a gun.) Segen has little dialogue, but Kertes' face and body language speak volumes! She managed to elevate what could have been a throw-away character into someone you really cared about, you route for her, you wince with her, and your heart pounds whenever she's got to go ninja!
World War Z is an unusually global zombie film. Typically, we're centered in one American or English city, following a civilian "everyman" hero, with a hotty and/or brotherly sidekick, and a handful of stranger comrades as they form a tribe of zombie-killers who outwit the foes and sneak/blast their way to either a rural or sea-bound safe haven. This film, on the other hand, takes us around the world, with a protagonist's-eye view of the horror that's sweeping the globe.
I read that the French critics hated this film, and I do have to wonder if it's partly because of WWZ's obvious pro-Israel nod... The hero, Gerry Lane (played by Brad Pitt) takes us to Israel, where they've built a giant wall. Of course, in reality, Israel did build a wall, only it was intended to keep out Islamic terrorists, rather than the hoards of undead, as we see in WWZ. The film's giant wall in Israel, and hoards of gnashing, mindless zombies, wanting only to infect (ie convert) everyone in sight, well, to me, this was a blatant metaphor for the real anxiety of facing what can be seen as a global pandemic of religiously-motivated violence and the war of religious fundamentalism vs secularism. As controversial as that may be, I do think it made WWZ a better film -- social and political commentary/metaphor is what defines a good zombie film as more than just a scary, bloody mess.
The special effects deserve mentioning: WOW. The areal panoramic shots of cities in flames were really well done. If I didn't know better, I would swear that I saw Newark and Jerusalem exploding last night. The zombies, as well, were nicely done, with very creepy teeth, and twisted, rotten features.
Finally, kudos to Marco Beltrami, for a beautiful score. I was surprised at some of the really lovely and sensitive orchestral bits, and hooray for not over-stating the suspenseful scenes with ridiculous bursts of shrill "music" (symphonic noise) - a pet peeve of mine, for sure. Bravo, Mr. Beltrami, bravo.