World War Z

Upon my return from the Mister White premiere, I promptly met my eldest daughter to go see World War Z.

One Line Review: World War Z isn’t World War Z but is tense and fun.

World War ZWorld War Z (2013) – Rated PG-13

United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to destroy humanity itself.”

I have to stress that this is not World War Z in any significant shape or form. Beth and I decided to enter into this putting aside our preconceived notions. Anyone who has read the novel and seen the trailer immediately suffers from cognitive dissonance. If you love the book, and there is much to love there, then you will need to disconnect or you won’t enjoy the movie.

One of our local critics has argued that it doesn’t matter if the film diverges from the book as long as it is a good movie. On the other hand, it would not be unreasonable to expect that a movie titled World War Z would be based on the book, World War Z.

Due to the trailer, the PG-13 rating (for a zombie film, are you kidding me?) and occasional news reports of how troubled the production was, I walked into World War Z with significantly lowered expectations. As a result, I was very pleasantly surprised.

The book told dozens of individual stories with only a small amount of overlap. Brad Pitt anchors the film as the protagonist everyman, Gerry Lane and is in every single scene. He is resourceful but not superhuman. Pitt has enough cinematic weight to carry the film and thankfully keeps his performance grounded.

The supporting cast is light on names but does well. Mireille (The Killing) Enos does well with a somewhat thankless role as Gerry’s wife. Daniella Kertesz does better with a rather juicy role as Israeli soldier Segen. David Morse steals the show with his brief role as a C.I.A. operative.

The film moves at a very brisk pace. Makeup effects are nice and while there is almost no gore (due to the PG-13 rating), there is still a great sense of urgency. World War Z does a good job of capturing the global scale of the pandemic. I was thankful that characters in this film appear to have heard of the term zombie – I resent movies that take place in a fictional vacuum where no one has ever heard of movies.

Scenes that I thought looked particularly silly in the trailer, namely the zombies climbing the wall, actually work quite well. World War Z is a fun big budget zombie movie – just don’t mistake it for World War Z. The biggest drawback to the movie (besides not adapting the book) is that Pitt has to be front and center in every scene. This would have worked better as an ensemble piece.

People Watch: I didn’t realize that Matthew (Lost) Fox was the parajumper until after the movie.

Passengers – Do Not Get on That Plane week

This is Do Not Get on That Plane week. Passengers is currently available on instant Netflix.

PASS: Passengers (2008) – Rated PG-13 for thematic elements including some scary elements and sensuality.

“When therapist Claire Summers (Anne Hathaway) starts working with the surviving passengers of a plane crash, she discovers that their individual accounts of the tragedy differ significantly from the airlines official version. As Claire digs deeper for the truth, beyond the airlines sanitized statements, the survivors suddenly begin to vanish, leaving her swimming in a dark abyss of intrigue and conspiracy.”

“The truth heals. Who said that?” – “I dont know, some dead white guy”

There is no getting around it. Anne Hathaway is really likable. She seems more at home with something in the comedy genre however. this is not a good role for her.

She is aided by an able if non-flashy cast. Patrick (Watchmen) Wilson is a central part of her enigma. Andre (The Mist) Braugher is her boss. Diane (Law & Order) Wiest plays a really creepy neighbor. David (St. Elsewhere) Morse has a small part as Arkin.

The central premise of the movie, survivors of a plane crash start disappearing, could be made into a good horror movie. The problem is that movie is Final Destination. If you want a science fiction version then you have Millenium.

The central problem with the movie is actually Anne Hathaway and her character, Claire. Her portrayal of a grief/crisis counselor/psychologist is about as believable as Denise Richards as nuclear scientist Dr. Christmas Jones in The World is Not Enough (my personal yardstick for credibility).

Claire is completely irresponsible and unprofessional – so much so that one character even feels the need to comment on it. For a counselor, she never ever listens to her patients. Her professional conduct would make House blush. I am not sure whether or not Anne Hathaway has the acting chops to pull this part off as it is written so badly.

I like reveal movies – movies where you find out something at the end that changes your whole perception of the story. A really good reveal movie stands by itself without the reveal. The Sixth Sense is a very good movie until the end when it becomes a great movie.

The other thing a really good reveal movie does is to not give away that there is going to be a reveal. To use The Sixth Sense again as an example – unless you have been told ahead of time, you do not know there is going to be a game changer ending (my apologies to the three people out there who have not seen or read anything about The Sixth Sense).

This movie does not make any sense and the mystery is kept very vague – these are two hallmarks of a bad reveal movie. They telegraph all throughout the film that there will be a reveal which is why I do not feel bad calling it one.

I kept hoping that the reveal would make this worthwhile. Instead you will either end up scratching your head at the leaps in logic or you will be irritated because it simply rips off the ending to another film.

Either way it is not worth your time. Give this one a pass.

People Watch: Look for William B. Davis aka Cigarette Smoking Man from X-Files as Jack.