[img]http://www.hdwallpapers.in/walls/world_war_z-wide.jpg[/img]WARNING: THE BELOW CONTAINS SPOILERS REGARDING THE PLOT OF THIS FILM -- WHICH WAS RELEASED IN U.S. THEATERS THIS PAST FRIDAY, THE 21st OF JUNE -- SO IF YOU HAVE NOT YET SEEN THIS, PLEASE DON'T READ ANY FURTHER; THANK YOU.
You’ve seen this done before: Rabid, incredibly fast-moving zombies taking over the world that can really only be put down with a bullet to the cranium – Dawn of the Dead, 28 Days Later and in the case of I Am Legend, “vampire”-like creatures that hungered for human flesh. As a summer action-esque blockbuster, Marc “Quantum of Solace” Forster has crafted an enjoyable roller coaster of a zombie plague film based on the corresponding novel, yet there’s really nothing about World War Z that I found to be too monumental in terms of scope, development or originality. Don’t get me wrong – it was definitely enjoyable and perhaps worth purchasing on Blu-ray release day, but you won’t walk out of your local Cineplex completely enthralled with intense feelings of grandeur or rhapsody when you….oh, never mind…let’s just take a look at the flick, which I was able to see as an early preview this past Thursday evening...
We had been waiting to see this one, as most of you undoubtedly had, ever since the trailers hit screens…the images of the piles upon piles of wildly rabid zombies climbing upon each other to infiltrate a giant wall – which turns out to be a fortified area in Israel – and other images that flashed before us which seemed uber-exciting and made it seem like World War Z had much promise. What concerned me, of course, as I suspect it did a great many people around the world viewing this, was that I began wondering just how close we really are to something like this actually occurring…you know, what with all these books, stories, tales and subsequent motion pictures that are released, I fear the scientific community and certain governments of the world know something we don’t. Is this our destiny, to become flesh-eating monsters that prey on one another? Is it not going to be something that far succeeds the likes of AIDS or cancer as a widespread pandemic but rather a biological nightmare virus that turns us into “undead”? The whole “undead” thing rubs me the wrong way, too – as suggested in classic campy films such as Return of the Living Dead or even Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, I can understand the notion of “corpses” coming back to life via a chemical or some element that seeps into the soil and calling that “the attack of the undead!” But what Forster does in World War Z by calling these “the undead” makes me scratch my head a bit, as it’s really a virus that spreads that makes us as humans go berserk and eat other humans, a la the Dawn of the Dead takes. That being said, I’m not sure where the next great biohazard threat is going to come from on a pandemic scale – is it going to be something like we saw in Outbreak in which a monkey spread a deadly strain of flu-like sickness that made our eyes bleed out and gave us such high fevers we could have spontaneously combusted…or, is it going to go the way of turning us into man-eating zombie-like things as depicted in so many films and books? Or, is it going to be the result of the medical community playing with so much DNA tampering that they create a deadly strain of something from the likes of trying to alter the genetic structures of things like rabies as seen in I Am Legend? And what exactly were those things in the original Omega Man with Charleton Heston? I’m just askin’…
Okay, so World War Z starts off with the main character, played by Brad Pitt (in a refreshingly restrained performance that truly worked), shown getting his kids ready in the morning on what appears to be a seemingly ordinary day in Philadelphia. Pitt’s character is an ex-UN ambassador type that ends up stepping right into a situation in which he is pitted against mankind’s greatest virulent threat ever in that some kind of plague has spread across the world, turning humans into flesh-eating “zombies” (or so they’re calling them from a rumor that began in Asia). As the film opens, Forster builds a sense of foreboding dread as we hear all kinds of news reports in the background suggesting the virus plague is being spread faster than originally anticipated; Pitt’s character, along with his wife and children, pile into the car and head for downtown Philly, only to be caught in bumper-to-bumper traffic which never leads anywhere good in any of these films (think Armageddon, I Am Legend et al). When the family notices a huge explosion in the distance on one of the side blocks, the tension gets even thicker as we wonder if this was a terrorist bombing or something…else. When a Philadelphia cop on a motorcycle comes screaming by and smashes Pitt’s character’s mirror off, he steps outside only to be confronted by another cop that demands he return to his vehicle – but before he can even finish his sentence, the cop is mowed down and smashed away by a garbage truck that is racing down the street and demolishing everything in its way. We, as the audience, begin to wonder what’s going on and it’s then we get a glimpse into the setpiece Foster has been setting up in this opening sequence – hordes and hordes of people running from their cars and through the streets are being mowed down and devoured by zombie-like beings that used to be fellow Philadelphians, the plague having taken over this major U.S. city.
Pitt’s character gets the family to safety as the zombies run rampant through the streets, eventually finding shelter and supplies in a drug store supermarket that’s been overrun by looting and mayhem. As he obtains Albuterol for his Asthma-stricken daughter, Pitt’s character then leads them through the burned-out city as the day turns into night, eventually stumbling on to a Latino family’s apartment somewhere in New Jersey who take them in and offer them refuge, cervezas and food. Pitt’s character knows a thing or two about survival, though, and he informs the Latino family that their best way of staying alive is to keep on the move with him and his family. However, the Latino family doesn’t come along, and Pitt’s character and his family in tow make their way fighting a horde of zombies that have attacked this apartment complex to the roof of the building where they’re rescued by a helicopter sent by a UN delegate that knows Pitt’s character. The family is taken to an American carrier ship in the mid-Atlantic which is serving as a command center for the military and biological disease experts trying to get a grip on the situation, and there they are offered bunk bed accommodations, food – tainted by jet fuel or something – and protection, for now, along with other “valued” survivors of the zombie plague (thus far). If this reminds you of the selfish, inhuman and downright cruel approach the U.S. government took when “choosing” who would survive to re-populate mankind as seen in Roland Emmerich’s 2012, you wouldn’t be alone. We then meet David Andrews (Terminator 3, Graveyard Shift), an American military officer who makes Pitt’s character an offer…his family will be granted asylum and protection aboard this aircraft carrier for the duration of the plague so long as he goes on a mission with a biological disease scientist and some Navy SEALs to track down the source of the disease, which is believed to be somewhere in Asia. Forced with the decision of letting his family be removed from the ship so another “privileged party” could have their accommodations or helping the same government he sweat blood and tears for in the past and is now threatening to destroy his family, what do you think he chooses to do?
And so the group hops aboard a SEAL transport plane, where the scientist who has tagged along makes some interesting comments and observations about how Mother Nature is a “serial killer” who leaves clues just like human serial killers because “she wants to get caught” in some strange manner; he also suggests to Pitt’s character that he should look for clues that Mother Nature has left to search for this weakness because even in the midst of the virus’ most brutal “attacks,” sometimes all is not what it seems. The action then shifts to somewhere in either China or Japan, where the plot gets a bit thick and difficult to follow; the SEALs, Pitt’s character and the scientist arrive at an Air Force base of some kind in a blinding rainstorm only to be attacked by virus-stricken beings that end up killing what was their one hope of finding a vaccine against the plague, the scientist. I don’t know how they do it, but the group ends up killing and fighting off all the zombies they come in contact with before meeting up with other U.S. military operatives at the base who give them a bit of a background on the spread of the virus. At the heart of the story is the fact that Israel is one country in the world that somehow knew about the outbreak of this virus before it happened, building a containment wall around the city of Jerusalem and which has kept them immune from the zombies until now. Pitt’s character makes a trip to Israel and meets with the head of the Mossad – Israeli “secret service” intelligence – who gives him the in’s and out’s of how they built the wall, how they knew about the oncoming plague and even a personal tour of the walled-in city. However, it isn’t long before hordes of enraged, hungry zombies pile upon one another and get over the wall, letting them into Jerusalem where they proceed to attack everyone in sight, thus finally infecting the one region of the world that didn’t seem to be affected. Desperate to get away from the country, Pitt’s character – who has saved an Israeli soldier girl but whom he also had to cut the hand off of in order to stop the spread of the virus after a zombie sunk his teeth into her and whom is now in tow with him – ends up boarding an outgoing plane at the very last second under armed guard escort. The plane, loaded with remaining survivors that managed to escape Jerusalem in time, takes off and heads for a specific destination supposedly boasting low, safe numbers of the undead. However, cleaning the infected wound of the Israeli girl’s hand isn’t Pitt’s character’s main problem aboard this plane – when a white Chihuahua begins barking at a closet towards the back coach cabin, we know something isn’t right. Of course, the pooch was correct in assuming there was a zombie that snuck onboard, and before you know it, mayhem and chaos has spread throughout what appears to be an Airbus, the virus being transmitted in a ridiculously rapid fashion until nearly everyone is attacking everyone within minutes. Without any options and facing hordes of infected zombies approaching their seats, Pitt’s character takes a chance and launches one of the soldier girl's grenades at the oncoming horde, the side of the plane being blown out along with all the infected passengers. The Airbus crashes into nearby fields, with only, of course, Pitt’s character and the Israeli soldier girl surviving.
The two end up coming upon a disease research center that Pitt’s character had been told about earlier, and it’s there that the final plan concocted by him takes shape: After meeting with the researchers, doctors, virologists and scientists at the clinic, Pitt’s character suggests not creating an antibody, or “cure” for the disease, per se, but rather an element of “camouflage;” after recalling what the scientist aboard the SEAL plane said to him about “finding a weakness” in Mother Nature and using it against her and then also remembering he noticed some people that were completely unaffected by the zombies and who simply watched as the attacking hordes ran past them and didn’t bother, he deduces that perhaps these infected people do not attack those “sick” somehow – i.e. have cancer, are elderly with problems, etc. – and comes up with a plan that’s far-reaching but seems like mankind’s only hope. The plan revolves around the notion that they would need to get into the storage facility at this disease research center – now completely overrun by zombies who were once medical staff in there – to pick up bottles of controlled illnesses such as influenza, SARS, etc. which would then be injected into themselves so that the zombies would deem them “invisible.” You with me so far?
Pitt’s character, the Israeli soldier girl and one of the doctors go on the journey of trying to slip into the storage facility under the radar of the wandering, meandering zombies patrolling the hallways and walkways – keeping extremely quiet as another factor that attracts the infected is loud, startling sound – while getting into the refrigerated storage room to get the bottled viruses. During a nail-biting sequence in which the humans play a game of cat-and-mouse with the wandering zombies, the team gets separated and Pitt’s character ends up making it into the storage room. However, a small problem arises when a zombie follows him and is now waiting right outside the door. Again faced with no choices, Pitt’s character decides to inject himself with one of the illnesses as a test run, which ends up, of course, eventually working after some time has passed as he opens the door to the storage room and walks right past the creature, eventually trapping him inside the refrigerated chamber. As a further test, Pitt’s character then creates a great deal of noise to attract the other zombies in the hallways, who surround him and the now-reunited team he went in with but end up lumbering and running right past them. Obviously, the plan worked…but now the question becomes, how do you administer all these illnesses to the people who are still human, and then what do you do with the zombies once they consider humans “invisible” and not to be attacked? Pitt’s character sums up the plan and the situation in a pre-closing credits narration sequence, suggesting once the zombies “ignore” the remaining humans of the world, there is now plenty of time for the military to burn them out or kill them all…and yet I still asked after coming out of the theater, “Yeah…but what about the small, miniscule chance that they didn’t get ALL the zombies…and there are still some out there who can spread this all over again once it evolves?”
Pitt’s character suggests, also, that “The war has just begun…” in the vein of Terminator character narration elements…opening up the possibility for some kind of sequel. But to be honest, I don’t know if the book variant of World War Z had a follow up, and further, I’m not convinced it would be necessary or even work. Still, there IS that question that makes us wonder what if all the zombies weren’t killed…
As a sort of more real-world-grounded fusion piece of Resident Evil, Dawn of the Dead and some other deadly virus-run-rampant projects, Marc Forster’s World War Z was good summer blockbuster entertainment. It does sometimes exhibit that been-there-done-that feeling and it seemed to me that the trailers made it out to be a bit more exciting and visceral than the final product actually was, but you should definitely check it out if you haven’t already.
If you’ve seen World War Z, let me know what you thought and if you agree or disagree with any of my sentiments here! As always, friends, thanks for reading…I’ll have some more Blu-ray reviews up soon, including one of the recently-released Last Exorcism Part 2!