Friday, June 21, 2013

World War Z [2013]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-III)  Chicago SunTimes (3 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C+)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (K. Jensen) review
Chicago SunTimes (R. Roeper) review
AVClub (A.A. Dowd) review

World War Z [2013] (directed by Marc Forster, screenplay by Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard and Damon Lindelof, screen story by Matthew Michael Carnahan and J. Michael Straczynski, based on the novel by Max Brooks [IMdb]) is a summer blockbuster zombie/horror movie, end of story.  It's ancestors might have been much lower-budget fare, but somewhere in the 1970s-80s Hollywood's larger studios figured out that if they improved the special effects a bit, these films would almost always oodles of money.  More recently, the studios realized that if they tweaked the formula a bit more -- "internationalizing" the carnage, perhaps adding "3D" -- they could make even more.

So folks, if you're expecting "Citizen Zombie" then save your money, there's more intelligent fare out there.  But if you're looking for basically a dumbed down (err ... "more Expressionist") version of Contagion [2011]  (Let's face it, even a world-wide outbreak of a mutated Ebola virus couldn't possibly compete with the "worst case scenario" of a zombie plague that turns previously healthy people into crazed flesh-craving zombies within 10-15 seconds "after first bite" by an infected ex-human/turned ravenous zombie) then this might be the summer diversion for you ;-)

And we get to watch the ever likable Brad Pitt playing Gerry Lane, a vague "U.N. super-hero" (an investigator of some sort who the U.N. "goes to" when there's some crisis somewhere and the world is screaming for answers) frantically flying around the world trying to figure out what's causing this zombie apocalypse, how to bring it under control, and perhaps most amusingly, its "Patient Zero" ;-).

His globe trotting takes him (1) to a rain-drenched airbase (that really could be anywhere, but we're told is S. Korea, check, Asian market...), (2) to Israel which probably to its own surprise has found that the "protective wall" that it built around its country to separate it from those living in the Palestinian territories also "works remarkably well against zombies..." (well, as even the trailer suggests, "only to a point ..." ;-) and (3) to an appropriately looking, appropriately "nestled in the foothills" of some European mountain chain, "W.H.O. facility" (European scientists/bureaucrats always knew where to build their labs ;-) where he can talk to some important-looking people with accents and lab coats about what he's discovered outside.

Yes, as goofy as all this may sound, it really is quite entertaining ;-).  Just think, the same movie that used to be made for $50,000 can now be made for $200,000,000 AND STILL MAKE MONEY and more than those who used to make those $50K productions would have ever imagined ;-)

So what can one say about this film: Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky would probably have hated something as stupid as this.  But Kafka?  My sense is that he'd probably gotten a kick out of it ... ;-). 

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