World War Z is surprisingly gore-free, and a pretty good end of the world flick. It’s well-made summer escapism, and worth the couple of extra bucks to spring for the 3D version.
But let me be up front: I hate zombies. What I mean to say is, I hate the zombie genre. I’ve always thought it was incredibly stupid, and most zombie films have the same variations of plot you’d find in a porno. Not that I ever watch porn, mind you, but I hear through sources there’s lots of it out there, but not a lot of variation on the essential story line.
In fact, I think the zombie genre is so stupid I almost didn’t watch The Walking Dead. The one and only reason I sat down to watch the first episode of the AMC series was because Frank Darabont, the guy who gave us Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and the criminally underappreciated The Mist, was behind it. I’ve been hooked on Walking Dead ever since — because it was smart enough to go beyond the single-thought story line of most other zombie efforts. It wasn’t about the zombies, it was about the humans left behind and how they dealt with the apocalypse.
World War Z doesn’t take the Walking Dead route, in that the story is indeed focused on the zombie threat. However, it’s smart, packed with intelligent action and doesn’t waste a minute of your time.
These zombies aren’t the usual laughably slow, lumbering creatures… these undead guys are fast. They swarm. Their attack is sudden, unexpected… and World War Z makes the most of that suddenness with a few 3D “in your face” zombie attacks that never failed to make the people in the seats next to me jump. Also, these zombies are like ants, in that they can work together to achieve a goal like, for example, using each others’ bodies to climb over a high wall.
About the lack of gore: I didn’t really notice how relatively bloodless the movie was until late in the film when Brad Pitt sinks an axe into a zombie’s head. The zombie, and the axed head, were kept off the screen, below the frame. The violence, especially for a zombie apocalypse, is surprisingly PG-rated. There’s MUCH more blood and gore in ten minutes of the typical Walking Dead episode than there is in the whole movie. But the lack of gore doesn’t detract at all, and really, I didn’t miss it. It still managed to pack lots of tension and suspense into an extremely efficient 2 hours.
There are quite a few knockout scenes… Great CGI zombie swarm shots, an incredible plane crash sequence, and a chilling shot of a sudden nuclear explosion seen off in the distance from a cockpit.
There’s nothing deep here, no hidden meanings, no allegories to the human condition. It’s just a version of the end of the world you can munch on buttered popcorn to. I give it three and a half still-moving zombie fingers out of five.