World War Z, released in 2013 and starring Brad Pitt as the lead character, a former United Nations investigator traveling the world in search of a cure for a zombie pandemic that has overtaken the world, is based on a 2006 novel by Max Brooks.
World War Z is considered to be a revival of the zombie genre after an absence of zombie thrillers since George A. Romero’s zombie classics and their remakes and the 28 Days/Weeks Later series. However, World War Z breaks the norm by focusing on a virus whose symptoms involve turning into a zombie. These zombies do not aim to eat brains or people aimlessly like the zombies of the Walking Dead or the Romero era zombies but rather identify suitable hosts to infect with the virus – healthy individuals. These zombies are fast (similar to the 28 Days/Weeks Later zombies) instead of the slow moving zombie hordes we are used to.
The zombies of World War Z are fast-paced (like scarily so, making anyone who isn’t Usain Bolt afraid for their lives), they identify terminally ill individuals and avoid such individuals (so much so that the terminally ill could walk easily into a zombie horde and emerge without a scratch), they are attracted to high pitch sounds (keeping true to the basic zombie information we have floating around) and behavior similar to animal behavior as we see them forming mounds to climb on top of each other in order to scale the walls of Jerusalem (although the World War Z zombies are uninterested in eating a person but rather just infecting them; after biting a person, they will quickly move on to the next healthy host). Lastly, the pathogen which causes the zombie virus in the movie World War Z, is one of the fastest pathogens in zombie-verse turning people into zombies within 12 seconds of a bite.
The plot of World War Z is straightforward deviating from the book completely – here a white savior figure or Brad Pitt, travels across the world in a short while uncovering different clues to the zombie pandemic. The other significant character of color, a virologist deemed to be humanity’s best hope against discovering what the disease is, slips and shoots himself like a moron right at the beginning so that Brad Pitt can shine. It kind of speaks to humanity’s preference even in the days of a real life pandemic – scientists, researchers are boring even though they are our best hope; we prefer glamorous journalists or politicians who say little of substance but somehow make us feel good as we don’t need to think or utilize our own brains in any way.
Brad Pitt flies to Korea, where he encounters a group of US marines (obviously it had to be American troops who faced it first). Then he travels from Korea after the tragic death of his virologist pal to Israel which until he arrives was safe from the zombie plague. Within 30 minutes of Brad Pitt entering Jerusalem, the Arab refugees for no reason at all began singing and dancing and a silly girl even gets a microphone, as if she is auditioning for Israel’s Got Talent. The zombies get all over-excited for no reason (just like the hosts of any Got Talent reality show) and began climbing on top of each other and manage to climb over the great wall of Jerusalem.
Within 10 minutes Brad Pitt is running for his life with his special bodyguards, one of whom gets bitten but Brad, probably remembering his training from Troy, takes a machete and chops off the soldier’s hand without a second thought. Now with his elite one handed bodyguard, he jumps on a commercial plane which has already been infected by the zombies – as they begin attacking all the passengers, our fast thinking UN investigator throws a grenade and blows open the aircraft crashing it close to a Virus research lab (just walking distance, no biggie!). Him and the one-handed bodyguard are the only survivors (deviating from most other Hollywood plots where the random extras survive and the hero dies)
The research facility is overrun by zombies except for a certain area. Brad, tests his theory that the zombies do not infect the terminally ill by somehow evading the zombies of the other side (where conveniently all the specimens of dangerous diseases are kept) and by randomly infecting himself with a disease not knowing if it is extremely fatal or just makes him temporarily sick. But hey, it’s Brad so obviously, it can’t be fatal. Next we see him walk over to a soda machine amidst the zombies who ignore him like we ignore smart people when good-looking idiots from reality shows come into focus. The zombies also ignore the Pepsi soda cans that fall out of the soda vending machine – not a good ad campaign for Pepsi when even brains are preferable to their soda.
After this we hear from Brad in the background, that the world is fighting back against the zombies although many cities are lost forever and the war has just begun thus, mentally preparing us for a sequel (although it has been confirmed that won’t be happening)
All in all, World War Z is a fun, enjoyable one-time watch. It challenges our minds more than the zombie horrors of Romero or the tripe that was Resident Evil. But that is all it does in terms of challenge. It is a fresh take on zombies but it still falls victim to the white messiah tale that Hollywood has regurgitated time and again. Had the movie stayed true to the book, it might not have earned so much money as anyone who hates to think would have avoided watching it but it could have become a cult classic and a game changer when it comes to zombie thrillers. Anyways, do give World War Z a watch if you’re bored and want to enjoy a fast paced action thriller.
Fun, fast paced zombie thriller – good for a one-time watch but falls short of being a classic.