Monday, July 8, 2013

World War Z

I did it! I went to see World War Z today.  It was a surprising zombie movie, pleasantly so, I might add.  This is not your teen-ager's zombie movie with gore and little substance.  This is also not a remake of Night of the Living Dead.

It's the story of Jerry (played by Brad Pitt), his wife, two daughters, and a young boy they picked up along the way.  It starts with the family at home in Philadelphia.  They get stuck in a monumental traffic jam and then like Independence Day, cars start blowing up ahead of them.  They don't know what's happening.  People are running in the opposite direction from the way Jerry is trying to drive.  Finally, they're involved in an accident and are on foot.  That's when they begin to see the zombies.
The family is VERY lucky to escape into a building and be taken in by a family of strangers.  You see Jerry is a former investigator with the U.N.  They call him on his handy-dandy satellite phone and ask him to come back.  He asks for asylum for his family and they agree, ultimately sending a helicopter after them.  It's not all that easy, but to tell you more would ruin the suspense for you.

Anyhow, once they are all safe on a US Navy vessel out at sea, Jerry is given information and sent to begin his research on the identity of "patient zero" the one who began the infestation.  I've seen reviews that compared this to the film Contagion, rather than your typical zombie flick.  In a way, that's right.  Pitt's character goes to south Korea, to Jerusalem, and finally to Wales.  There's some amazing footage along the way.  The zombies swarm like army ants and will keep moving even if shot, unless the head is destroyed.  There are also a couple of clues that he witnesses, which lead him to the correct conclusion.

Also he sees a hydrogen bomb blast from the airplane en route.  Actually it looks like an aerial shot of the big test on Bikini Atoll in the Pacific in the late 1940s - early 1950s.  But it's still effective.  In other words, the world is in chaos. 

But bit by bit the balance of power swings back to the living.  The movie has a good ending, or as good as it can have with the world's cities decimated.

It's a surprising film for its lack of gore and focus on the suspenseful plot rather than drooling revenants.  Oh don't get me wrong, there are plenty of zombies around, but they tend to whimper and snap their teeth periodically if denied food.  Also, and this was interesting to me as an actor, the zombies have different physical traits.  They're not all alike.  Either the director gave each actor a piece of business or allowed the actors to come up with their own.  Good job, no matter who was responsible.

There is one universal warning that should be heeded from this film.  If you're ever on an airliner, mid-flight, and the little yapping chihuahua keeps barking at the elevator door, DON'T PUSH THE BUTTON to lift the elevator.  I promise you'll regret it.  Actually I imagine the chihuahua did, too.  But that's the breed for you - bark first, think later...come to think of it, that's most dogs.  Sorry Chihuahuas, I didn't mean to do breed profiling...

Sideline - do any of you remember the hilarious comedy show on tv in the 80s, WKRP In Cincinnati?
Their newsman, Les Nessman, was a wonderful character.  He pronounced things as he wished, no matter how often or who corrected him.  He called chihuahuas - Chee/hu/a/hu/as...

Anyhow, go see World War Z in the theater if you can.  The special effects are amazing and are best viewed on the big screen...though they'll play on a tv, too, I'm sure.

This is the third movie I've gone to see in theatres since starting my blog.  You folks are changing me!  That's okay.  I went frequently in my youth.  It's only advanced middle-age that has slowed me down in theatre attendance.

Enjoy our pop culture, read, see a movie, watch tv, or listen to music - do all three at once, whatever your fancy.

Til next time...

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