World War Z (2013)

World War Z

Yes, I know I’m stretching the definition of war movies big time including Marc Forster‘s latest film. World War Z is an apocalyptic zombie movie with a very strong military element. It’s based on Max Brooks’ eponymous novel.

The movie begins with an idyllic family scene. Former UN investigator Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), his wife (Mireille Enos) and two daughters are getting ready for the day. A little later, on their way into town, they see their world turn into chaos. Cars crash into other cars, people scream and run while others turn into savage predators. Gerry and his family narrowly escape this mayhem and hide in a huge building until a UN helicopter comes and gets them out. They are flown to an aircraft carrier where they hear more about what’s happening. It seems as if there was a pandemic that rapidly infects all the inhabitants of every country and turns them into zombies. The illness broke out in Korea and the military want to send a scientist to investigate. Gerry is sent with him as he was the best UN investigator they had.

As was to be expected they can’t find anything in Korea and the next stop is Jerusalem. From Israel we follow Gerry and a female Israeli soldier (Daniella Kertesz) on their trip around the world and see how the pandemic spreads. On this frantic trip Gerry observes that some people are avoided by the zombies. If he can find out why, maybe he could find a cure?

I hated the beginning of this movie big time and almost stopped watching after ten minutes. After the initial family scene it starts with full action and, as strange as this may seem, I found that very boring. Luckily the movie slows down a bit and moves on at a steady pace, which is broken up by more intense scenes. The end is not bad at all.

I’ve seen a few zombie movies and I couldn’t help comparing this to I Am Legend for example. I love I Am Legend, it’s my favourite zombie movie and comparing World War Z to that, was to the latter’s disadvantage. I also like the zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead a lot. Looking back I think that World War Z isn’t even a zombie movie. It’s a disaster movie with a zombie theme. It’s far more like the Day After Tomorrow or Independence Day.

The biggest flaw of World War Z is that I didn’t think it was unique. I felt I’d seen each and every element before in another context. Some in horror movies like The Crazies, others in action films, or movies in which the US or the world are at large are threatened by some sort of evil or aliens. Unfortunately I don’t like Brad Pitt all that much, which didn’t help.

Most of the time when an apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic movie starts with an idyllic family scene I know I’m not going to watch anything superior. I was proven right in this case once more. It had good moments and if you want to see a fast-paced action flick, by all means, watch it, but if you’d like to see something a bit unusual, maybe even controversial, then stay away.

I’m still waiting for a movie which will look into the appeal of the zombie. Why is there such a wave of books and movies since a couple of years?

Do you have a favourite zombie movie?

My favourites are:

I Am Legend

Shaun of the Dead

28 Days Later


14 thoughts on “World War Z (2013)

  1. Guy Savage says:

    Shaun of the Dead!!!!!

  2. obooki says:

    My favourite zombie film is George A Romero’s original version of Dawn of the Dead.

    This sounds pretty rubbish, and brings up a similar question to one you asked about the current slew of horror: why have zombie movies suddenly become mainstream? Once upon a time they used to be the most looked-down on of all cinematic genres.

    • I don’t think I’ve watched Dawn of the Dead. I should.
      Yes, this was rubbish. If I wrote detailed reviews I would have listed the faulty logic all through the movie and guess 500 words would not have been enough.
      True, they have become mainstream. Even zombie love stories are thinkable. I tried to watch Warm Bodies but I had to give up. After all that vampire snogging, they had to up the ante I suppose.

  3. nem baj says:

    I Walked with a Zombie (1943). But it’s an easy choice for me, since I haven’t seen many of the others.

    An army of living dead appears at the end of a very early war movie, Abel Gance’s J’accuse (1919). It is composed of soldiers dead in WWI. However the only contagious thing about them is their pacifism… well, as we know it didn’t work.

    • Weird. Why did I not picture you as the typical zombie movie viewer. 🙂
      Most are lacking tragically on the artistic front but then again, most want to be and are trashy.
      I’ve got one that could be interesting. The Serpent and the Rainbow.
      Interesting about J’accuse.

      • nem baj says:

        I joyfully indulge in apocalyptic & post-apocalyptic movies… with a ‘realistic’ (or ‘un-fantastic’) background, however corny. Battle Los Angeles was fun.

        Naturally, though skeletons have my preference, I’m glad to learn there are such people on Earth as “typical zombie movie viewers”. 🙂

      • Oh yes, there are typical zombie movie viewers. 🙂
        I started Battle Los Angeles three times but never managed to watch more than 15 minutes . . .

  4. It looks horrible, which is annoying because I really, really, really liked the book. There was no action hero, just a reporter traveling around the world interviewing survivors of the zombie apocalypse. Even though it was written by an American, most of the book takes place outside the US, the strategies for defeating the zombies come from other countries, and the American military is humiliated by its failure to stop the zombies.
    sorry, probably wrote too much, but I really liked the book.

    • No, not at all, you didn’t write too much.
      I’m glad you confirmed my suspicion. I had the book in my hands and liked the approach a lot. You can immediately see that it was written by a historian because of the “oral history” aspect.
      The movie pretends to have others find a cure but in the end it’s an American investigator.
      I’m in the mood to read the book now. Thanks.

  5. the war movie buff says:

    I saw this in a theater and was disappointed. One of the things I like about zombie movies is the buildup to the epidemic. This movie plunges in with zero exposition. Suddenly the zombies are in NYC where coincidentally Pitt and his family are. Ridiculous! I also found the Jerusalem scene to be ridiculous.

    I do not really have a favorite zombie movie. I guess I’d say “Dead Snow”. It’s actually more of a war movie than WWZ. I did not really like Shaun of the Dead. Not funny enough. I do watch The Walking Dead series and it is excellent.

    Why zombie movies now? I think they play into a worldwide angst that something bad and uncontrollable is lurking in the future. I know a lot of Americans are pessimistic about the future.

    • I agree with your interpretation.
      And I feel the same about this movie. That’s what I meant when I said it was full action right away which was boring. You phrased it better. No built-up. It was just meh.
      I think you’re the only perosn I know who didn’t like Shaun of the Dead. Maybe it’s a cultural thing? British humour.
      I’ll have to look into Dead Snow.

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