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.

Lost – Do Not Get on That Plane week

This is Do Not Get on That Plane week. Lost seasons 1-5 are currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: Lost season 1-5

“Stranded on a tropical island after their plane crashes 1,000 miles off course, a group of castaways must learn to survive in their new home, avoid the gigantic something crashing through the trees and determine whether they are really alone. Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Terry OQuinn, Dominic Monaghan and Naveen Andrews head the diverse ensemble cast in this landmark series, which won an Emmy for Best Drama.”

What can I say about one of the best shows on television? It begins with a bang and is endlessly fascinating.

The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous with locales chosen from all over Hawaii. It looks especially good in HD for those who are using a set top box.

The large ensemble cast is definitely one of the reasons the show is such a winner. While there are members who get more attention than others, hardly anyone is skimped on. Almost all of the characters arrive on the island while on the run.

Matthew Fox appears to play our quintessential hero, Dr. Jack Shepherd. It is not long before we find out that while the Doctor is heroic and a natural leader, he is also deeply flawed. He represents the voice of reason. Michael Keaton was originally cast in the role.

Terry OQuinn plays John Locke, almost the polar opposite of Jack. He is a deeply spiritual man who finds his answers on the island. He represents the voice of faith. Terry had previously worked with J.J. Abrams on Alias.

John Locke is not the only character named after a philosopher. Lost also has characters named Jeremy Bentham, Anthony Cooper and Rousseau as well as scientists Faraday and Minkowski.

Other main characters include Sawyer, a rogue, Kate, our woman of mystery, the Kwons, an unhappy Korean couple, the hapless Hurley, and Sayid (my favorite), an Iraqi.

Telling you much more about the characters spoils a few of the surprises though Sawyer, Kate and Jack form the main romantic triangle in the show.

The writing is simply amazing. It manages to be very literate while giving each character their own voice. A common failing among series is that the dialogue of different characters becomes interchangeable.

The writers juggle dozens of plot threads with a great deal of finesse. The only thing that is infuriating is that for every mystery they resolve, they add two more. Having said that, it does come together as one big story as opposed to 24 where Jack Bauer and CTU clearly forget every lesson they learned from each season when the new season starts.

Lost is not the best TV series on instant Netflix (Dexter carries that honor) but I heartily recommend it if you have the time to invest. The first five seasons are currently available on instant Netflix. The current season (6) is supposed to be the last and they are clearly winding up the threads.

People Watch: Two members of the cast of Con Air (covered earlier this week) also appear in lost. Rachel Ticotin appears in two episodes as Captain Teresa Cortez and M.C. Gainey appears in 18 episodes as Tom Friendly.