*GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED*
My Review: Adapting books into movies is the new fad in Hollywood. With zombie mania taking over just about all aspects of multi-media, it's been getting increasingly more difficult to find a zombie tale that stands out. World War Z, based off of the popular novel of the same name by Max Brooks, is the first zombie movie in quite a few years that tries to take itself seriously. And for this reason I was intrigued. Okay, and maybe because Brad Pitt was starring in it. Zombies and eye candy, right? But anytime I hear about a movie being delayed for reshoots, I get nervous. Originally, World War Z had a December 2012 release date but due to extensive reshoots, it was decided to move the film to summer 2013. Before the movie hit theaters, I had planned on reading the book version, but once I learned that the movie was heavily deviating from the novel, I decided not to read it so I could go into the film with an open mind. I'm relieved I went with my instincts, because my 3 star rating probably would have been lower.
Here's the thing. I liked the story and the general direction WWZ was going in. Gerry (Brad Pitt), a man who once had a dangerous job as a United Nations employee, gave it all up for his family. The movie doesn't get into much detail here, but you get the sense that Gerry was tired of spending long periods of time away from his wife and daughters. It's also not stated what he currently does for a living but I sort of assumed he was a stay-at-home father and appeared quite happy at making his girls breakfast and packing their lunches. I like that Pitt's character doesn't fall into one of the many stereotypical male characters, ya know, the one where the husband/father gives up his dangerous career to make his family happy but secretly yearns to get back into the field and jumps at the opportunity when it comes knocking at his door. Nope, I never got that feeling from Gerry; he appears content and happy with his role as doting husband and father. However, this all changes when zombies enter the picture. In order to protect his family, he is forced to go back out in the field to help find the origins of this devastating pandemic. Yes, I mean literally forced. While his old UN ties help get his wife and daughters to safety, his old boss has his own agenda. If Gerry wants his family to remain on the ship with protection and 3 square meals a day, then he must go. If he refuses, him and his family will be dropped back off into the ravaged, zombie-invested city they barely escaped. I definitely felt bad for him because seriously, what kind of choice is that?
Let's back up for a moment. Gerry's previous job makes the beginning of WWZ somewhat believable as he navigates his family through the city of mass hysteria as people start changing into zombies within seconds. Although you don't quite know exactly what his previous set of skills were, you can tell by his calm, take- charge demeanor that he's had some kind of training. I actually liked his wife. Again going back to stereotypical characters, it was so refreshing to see that this wasn't the case with her. Instead of the typical, hysterical females we are used to seeing, Gerry's wife did everything he said, remained calm, no bitching or crying-- basically she appeared to have complete trust and faith in her husband and his abilities to keep them safe. Gerry's daughters on the other hand...I'll get to that later. I also liked the female soldier he meets up with later in the film. She was pretty hardcore, although she annoyed me towards the end when she...yeah, I'll get to that in a bit as well.
The zombies themselves were pretty interesting, even though you don't get a real up close and personal look at them until the end. They also deviate from some of the characteristics we are used to-- these zombies are super fast, not slow. Also, they are not drawn to people by scent. What gets these walking dead fired up is sound. They kind of walk around in a dormant like state until they hear something. Cool, right? Yeah, well, it could have been cool if it wasn't for...I'll get to that in a moment. I promise.
The last thing I liked about WWZ is the shift in priority "the cure" takes. There are so many zombie movies and books out there that focuses on finding the cure. But what if you find something that can camouflage you from the dead? I reviewed a zombie book earlier in the week called FIEND by Peter Stenson that focused more on the discovery of what they needed to do in order to NOT turn into a zombie rather than actually finding a cure. In WWZ, a kind of camouflage presents itself first, which takes precedence. I'm trying to be as vague as possible, but I guess what my point is, I like the twist and it is more realistic. After all, not all cures can be found in a week or a month. It may even take years.
If you are still with me so far, thank you for being patient. Because I am sure at this point you are wondering what possibly could be so bad after talking so highly about the movie. Here is where it all went wrong. Remember how I said World War Z is the first zombie movie in awhile that tries to take itself seriously? Well, one thing I CAN'T STAND is a movie that tries to take itself serious yet is filled with cliche after cliche. Like I said above, the movie starts off solid. Gerry and his family are stuck in city traffic when zombies start to make their debut. They steal an RV which is smart since it's (a) big enough to push other unmoving cars out of the way and (b) can possibly serve as a temporary home instead of being cramped in a car. I was slightly annoyed with Gerry's daughters; I guess since his wife didn't fit the typical stereotype, they figured to make his kids do all the whining and not listening. But whatever, small price to pay if the rest of the movie goes smoothly, right? Just when I am thinking this, one of his daughter's has an asthma attack. And it JUST so happens they forgot the inhaler at home. Why I didn't see it coming when they had talked about packing the inhaler before they left the house, is beyond me. But it should have been my first warning that more cliches were coming. The asthma attack forces them to stop at a grocery store that has a pharmacy inside. Okay, cool, they can grab the meds and some supplies. Once they go inside, it is complete chaos. People, including police officers, are running up and down the isles, ransacking the place. So what does Gerry and his wife decide to do? Yup, you guessed it. They SPLIT UP. WTF! Isn't written somewhere or in some Survival 101 Guide, NEVER SPLIT UP??? Because you know what happens when they split up. Gerry's wife gets accosted, one of his daughters is screaming her head off. Oh, and let's not forget the RV is gone when they finally get back outside. Yup, cliche after cliche...
...And the cliches continue. Once they learn that sound is what attracts the zombies, you can guess what the rest of the movie is filled with. Yup, people making noises over and over and over again. Here are a just a few examples:
1) Riding rusty, SQUEAKY bicycles in the RAIN in hopes to get to the plane faster. Really??? They were better off walking quietly and letting the hard rain cover their footsteps!
2) The epic scene in the trailer where the zombies scale the walls in hordes. The only thing that saved that scene was how awesome it looked. But you know what caused it? A whole CITY of people singing and if I remember correctly, the sound was even louder because the singing was being projected through speakers.
3) Towards the end, Gerry and a couple of others need to get into a certain part of a lab that is overrun by zombies. Gerry says no guns since it will attract sound. Do they listen? Nope. Soldier chick not only takes a gun with her, but uses it. You're smart enough to imagine the consequences of that.
4) Gerry appears to forget his own advice to stay quiet as possible as he and his little group: (a) walk on broken glass, (b) "accidentally" kick something across the floor, (c) push a creaky door inch by inch instead of just opening it quickly.
World War Z had a lot of potential. The focus of the story was engaging, the non-stereotypical characters were refreshing, and the zombies were interesting. But why ruin a perfectly good movie with cliche after cliche? I'm not stupid. I get movies like this need to build suspense and I can handle a scene here and there. But when characters keep making the same mistakes over and over again, I can't help but get annoyed and extremely frustrated. Oh, and I forgot to mention the 3D. Or should I say, what 3D? I am not a huge 3D fan like some people, but after being blown away at seeing Man of Steel in that format, I figured what the hell. I now wish I hadn't because I can't remember one scene that was shot in 3D. A definite waste of a few extra dollars. A sequel to World War Z is apparently already in the works and I'm not quite sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, I can see the potential because of the way WWZ ends. But I cringe at the thought of sitting through another 2 hours of cliches.
Enter for a chance to win 1 of 3 e-book copies of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks, the novel this movie is based on! I have 3 e-copies of the book so 3 winners will be announced. This is an International giveaway! All are welcome to enter! Ends 7/31
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