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Friday, June 28, 2013

Movie Review: World War Z

The other day my oldest son and I took in the matinee of World War Z, the apocalyptic zombie thriller starring Brad Pitt. It was a 2:00 pm showing, and the place was about 75-80 percent full. And while all of us paid matinee prices, we would still have received our money's worth had we paid full price.

The story involves a mutant virus or bacteria that kills those infected and then turns them into zombies, who voraciously attack live humans, who in turn get infected and become zombies.

I don't want to spoil any of the plot points nor do I want to reveal too much because it would make the impact of the film less palpable. What I can safely say is that if you don't like films that are a) ceaselessly suspenseful and b) relentless in their action, don't go see this film. Usually, zombie films have a healthy dose of humor, some off the cuff one liner to lighten the tension. Not this one. From roughly 10 minutes into the film until the roll of the credits, it is non-stop action and suspense. I had to force myself at various intervals to let out air and take a deep breath because it was all so suspenseful, I sometimes forgot to breath. Even when I knew what would happen next ("Here comes a zombie ..."), the filmmaker(s) still orchestrated everything to make it take the viewer's breath away. Indeed, had I taken my own advice (see above a and b), I wouldn't have seen this movie. I'm glad I did, however.

The story line is mostly solid. The only holes/things I didn't fully understand were 1) how Brad Pitt was so blithe to the occurrence of a certain factor that would attract the zombies (maybe the fact that normality was no longer normal hadn't fully sunk in?) and 2) how military personnel didn't see an enormous pile of bloodthirsty zombies amassing when they were in a perfect position to do so, looking to shoot anything at all dangerous.

The acting is solid. I especially appreciated how Pitt didn't not play this role as if he was always and everywhere the brave hero, fearful of no man or man-beast. He shows his character is scared, that certain periods of action have left him breathless and terrified.

If you're looking for a star-studded cast, Pitt, David Morse, and Pierfrancesco Favino, a British actor playing a World Health Organization scientist were the only remotely familiar faces. Actually, I didn't notice until I went looking for Favino's name, but Matthew Fox of "Lost" fame is in the film, listed as "Parajumper." I didn't even notice him, and I watched "Lost" every week unless I absolutely couldn't help it. A case of "How fleeting is fame?" In any event, everyone else is anonymous. Maybe that's on purpose.

One final note: One reviewer claims the movie "culminates" in Pitt walking down a hallway. This could be said in terms of the action, maybe, but it's not the end of the film. And given the ensuing voice-over narration, the ominous tone never fades.

On a scale of 1-5 stars, I give this 4, with points off for no humor to relieve the tension and the aforementioned head scratchers.

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