World War Z

Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz

Dir. Marc Forster


The thing about zombies is there’s just no reasoning with them. You can’t take them to one side and say we feel your pain, give us time and we can work this out. In World War Z the zombies are no different, still unreasonable, no talking to them, but unlike the usual portrayal of zombies as moronic automatons shuffling about in a dazed confusion these zombies would catch Usain Bolt over twenty metres.

The original novel told the story of a devastating pandemic in a series of one to one recounts from survivors and those involved in tracing the outbreak of the virus. In the film we arrive moments after the virus has hit Philadelphia, which is bad news for Brad Pitt and his family because they’re stuck in a traffic jam. And if you thought drivers stuck in traffic jams can get a bit wound up, well. . .

world_war_z 2
Literally crawling up the wall. How many times have you had that feeling?

Marc Forster directed Quantum of Solace, so he’s no slouch when it comes to set pieces and big production and WWZ doesn’t cut corners in that respect. The aerial city wide shots of street after street over run with fleet-footed zombies have a crazy newsreel quality to them. Maybe one day when this really happens we’ll be ready for it, it’ll be just another article for Huw Edwards to deliver in his tranquilising Welsh monotone.

Eventually Pitt arrives in Jerusalem where the Israeli authorities have got the whole thing under control. Their idea of control being a humungous wall around the city. But the zombies when they’re not banging on about Checkov and Eisenstein have a thing about noise, they’re drawn to it, attracted to it, dare I say annoyed by it, and the celebratory sing song inside Jerusalem is enough to provoke the zombies to storm the walls in a sequence as visually staggering as it is disturbing.

There’s a lot of talk on the internet about the production difficulties in the making of World War Z, criticism that finds its outlet in the treatment of the film’s climax. I won’t spoil it for you, but I hadn’t read the criticisms before watching the film and didn’t really have a problem with the way things turned out. You’ll have to draw your own conclusions. But what I would say is that you should give World War Z a try, even if, like me, you’re more of a vampire person than a zombie person. WWZ does raise some interesting real world questions about the spread of infection, population control and environmental mistreatment.

WORLD-WAR-Z 3So, what’s the metaphor, what do zombies really represent? Our monsters are usually a reflection of the current concerns and melees. My own cod-theory is that the threat of an uncontrolled mob, unable to reason, unable to be reasoned with, is a manifestation of the growing fear of a general public that no longer recognises law and order in spite of every government’s attempt to subdue and batter into the ground those pesky adversaries known as citizens.

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