What is it about WORLD WAR Z the movie that just makes me giddy as all hell? I’ve seen the film twice now, the first time to determine if I’d want to do an event – and the second time, well that was last night’s event that Brad Pitt graced us with his presence.
Now here’s the thing, had I not flipped for the film, I would not have done the event. That’s how I operate. But I did flip.
The film begins with a very low key title sequence showing crowds of people doing the common everyday motions of life. This gives way to Brad’s Gerry and Mireille Enos’ Karen being woken up “puppy pile” style by their two precocious daughters. Next we find Gerry being domestic, making pancakes for the girls while kind of half paying attention to the news, which seems to be showing masses of people in foreign lands, but they’re not all Z’d out yet… In the background you’ll hear talk of Rabies, Martial Law and other scary phrases. One of the girls asks,” What’s Martial Law?” and Gerry answers, “it’s like house rules, but for everyone.” We learn that Gerry apparently had an intense job, but his kids just know him as the guy that makes breakfast these days – and Gerry and Karen seem happy with that. We transition to the car in Philadelphia traffic. This is the sequence that we’ve seen the most on trailers – and I’ve seen bits at BNAT and at conventions from this part, but never as intensely put together.
This is a PG13 film without necessarily feeling like one. The reason is WORLD WAR Z’s zombies have a very different purpose than the movie Zombies we have known for so long. These are just fast zombies, they’re utterly psychotic in their purpose. This purpose isn’t to eat your brains or feast on the meat of your body… They do not rip out entrails. No, they bite and release, moving on to the next victim. They’re about reproduction of their species. When all visible viable Zombie material is converted, they move on or go into a dormant state waiting stimuli that indicates more host organisms… us.
What Pitt witnesses upon the streets of Philadelphia is The Nightmare. A contagion whose incubation period is approximately 11-12 seconds. Not only that, they have a somewhat hive mentality… or more like crazy massing warrior ants, like you’d see in that great Charlton Heston film, NAKED JUNGLE.
I’m pretty sure that I’d be dead pretty quickly in this scenario. I mean, if you’re in a major metropolitan city – this is a complete nightmare. The family is forced into a Winnebago and manage to escape Philly heading in the general direction of New York – to meet the UN copters that want to pick him up because he’s precisely the kind of man the world needs. He goes into Hot Zones, he’s a survivor and someone that sees things and can put them together. First order of business is to get his daughter some Asthma medicine, cuz she’s freaking out. This brings them to Newark. You’ve mainly just seen the Helicopter escape sequence in trailers – but the Newark stuff is where I started to love the film. Not just the grocery store sequence, love that cop. I love the family that takes them in. BUT – the escape up the stairwell to the roof. This is just excellent scary fucking dark nightmares. I’m a bit of a jumper during a good horror movie. I twitch every which way – it’s because I can’t help but try to think like I’m the main character – and throughout this film, I was dead.
Why do I love Pitt’s Gerry? Sometimes it’s just the simple things he does that just make all the fucking sense in the world, but that you don’t see people do in Zombie movies – even allegedly smart folks. Pitt wraps his forearms with thick glossy magazines and duct tape, creating a really good anti-biting low-tech armor. I love the bayonet he makes for his rifle they got earlier in the Winnebago. I love that when his initial mission goes poorly, he continues it. I love his search for breadcrumbs. I really love how he shifts his mission. His solution for Zombies on an airplane seconds from becoming Z himself? Just badass and man…
I love Gerry in Jerusalem. When Pitt sees a civilization standing, it fills him with hope. Maybe it isn’t all doomed. When it falls, it is devastating. I love his fast thinking with the Israeli Soldier – who then becomes my next favorite character in the film. In Wales… it is seriously everything he does. I love his hypothesis. I love the mission. I just was not expecting to like this movie, much less love it.
I mean seriously. The production problems, the absolute hatred that seemed to be coming from the fans of the Book was kinda putting me off. Then – there really did seem like something off from the trailers and the footage they were showing folks.
From what you see in trailers – you see those zombies scaling that wall, but you don’t have the context for it. You don’t realize just how horrific it is about to get once they get on the other side. Running in cages as these things are trying to reach for you – as Pitt just runs with a running panicking crowd around him – all armed. Making terrible panicky decisions that just fucking doom everyone. It’s truly madness. It’s up close and unrelenting. Somebody in my twitter feed referenced the Raptors in JURASSIC PARK – but ya know, they were PG13 too – but really, these things are scarier.
Over the course of the film, as Pitt gets closer and closer to the undead… we begin to realize that these big CG scenes – they’ve kind of left you unprepared for dealing with these things up close. I mean, when you’re on a runway in South Korea in the dead of night in the pouring rain and you can only see maybe 15 feet in front of you… with just 5 Navy Seals… it isn’t enough. It’s gonna get fucking terrible. Before you see them, you hear these inhuman sorrow filled belches of fear… in a great theater with great sound… it will send shivers down your spine. By the time you get to the third act – when the characters have found themselves in a clinical study situation… when the Zombies are in DORMANT stage – and you have to be quiet as a mouse…. And out of sight… it’s UNNERVING AS HELL.
You’ll also have a teeth chomping thing to tease your wussy friends with. But what will really get you are the eyes. Just nightmares.
Meanwhile, perhaps my favorite aspect of Marc Forster’s film is Marco Beltrami’s score – which I swear feels like a mix of GOBLIN with TUBULAR BELLS – not directly, but it is evocative – it’s creepy… he’s also doing creepy things with air raid sirens and a crunching bone sound – that just shivers.
Favorite thing? North Korea’s solution!
I’ve never seen a Zombie film on this scale before. That isn’t in and of itself a great thing, but as a Zombie loving film geek – I’ve never seen this Zombie scenario played out like this.
I mean, 28 DAYS LATER – we wake up into that story 28 days after the world went to hell. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, it’s a farmhouse. WALKING DEAD – mainly after Rick wakes – after his small town fell, but we didn’t see Atlanta fall.
The CG makes one think you won’t have any atmosphere, but Forster gets it perfect for the end action sequence. Did everyone love it tonight? No. But the applause afterwards was very enthusiastic – and the geeks that hung out geeking out over it in the lobby, they were very happy.
Sure – some of that could have been the presence of Brad Pitt in the theater for about a minute forty seconds – which was enough to get the room ovulating and men’s sperm count up, but ya know… For a movie to kick this much ass in a theater where the sound seemed to be swallowed by the acoustics, rather than the audio assault of my first screening. So I can’t recommend seeing WORLD WAR Z in Austin at the Regal Westgate, but it sounded great at the HIGHLAND GALAXY.
This is a CONTAGION, HOT ZONE, OUTBREAK kind of flick, but focused on Pitt’s journey of terror and discovery. There’s a difference when the “filler scenes” are breathless running terror from chomping twitching hurling freaky zombie fucks, instead of hospital beds with people oozing.
I’ve never seen the very real time global investigation of the Zombie Armageddon before. It’s kinda fascinating, not my preferred job of choice in the Apocalypse… I’m more of the bomb shelter with a private well and stocked for 3 months type of guy. STEEL DOOR. Disguised as an car garage wall. Wait it out. Wait for Brad Pitt to come up with a brilliant safer way to get to permanent help. Have 1000s of Blu Rays to watch… and let’s just film festival this shit away. That’s my plan. I have my weapons man. Drivers. It’s just a tweet away. Ya know… Just in case.
But I’m happy there’s a Gerry out there… a taller way crazy handsome. Jesus man, when you have Brad Pitt up in your face being charming – that’s really intimidating. I spent an hour today walking in the pool and just the notion that Pitt was happening and nobody really knew… man, I did 13.5 double laps walking in a pool which wasn’t just the result of hard work – but listening to Daft Punk and thinking, dude, you’re gonna pull Brad Pitt out from behind the screen tonight. That was cool. Never seen a room erupt in celphones, gasps, screams, tears, smiles and pics pics pics – and I’m like, I should talk now. Maybe. No, look, it’s Brad Pitt. He isn’t just computer generated, but sometimes he is… For Fincher and that shit was amazing. Jesus, what if he destroys me because he thinks I’m beautiful… wait, that was the other guy, but really weren’t they one in the same? Yeah, I saved that.
But no matter how twitterpated I was by a really manly handshake and screaming people…
WORLD WAR Z, it ain’t the book, it’s one helluva movie!