World War…Z?

“World War Z” is not a horror movie.

It will not scare you, despite the multitude of zombies you see chomping down on humans. “Chomping down” is an exaggeration, actually, because these zombies don’t eat people. They just bite–and they seem to prefer biting…arms. Maybe these zombies are averse to offal, because I certainly didn’t see anyone going for brains or intestines. Come to think of it, you see very little biting, too, because the zombies just mostly fall  over each other as they chase their prey. Man, do the zombies run a lot in this movie.

That said, “World War Z” is an action blockbuster. And it’s a great one.

It starts with a few minutes of United Nations field agent Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) spending some quality time with his family before the apocalypse descends upon them. After that, the action doesn’t let up. It takes Lane all around the world as he looks for Patient Zero in an attempt to understand the phenomenon and hopefully find a cure.

I read the Max Brooks novel this movie was loosely based upon last year, and I’m pleased that the movie didn’t follow the book’s structure. See, the book is a mere collection of anecdotes that would have been hard to follow on the big screen, so the movie showed Lane as he encountered the characters with stories to tell. It’s a nice and necessary deviation from the book, although I did miss a few lovable book characters, such as the blind Tomonaga Ijiro who fought zombies with his gardening shovel and his protege Kondo Tatsumi who didn’t immediately realize the world was going up in flames because he was so glued to his computer.

I have no problem with films not following what’s written on every page of the book it was based on, but I think it’s a shame the movie only breezed through the fundamentals of anti-zombie combat that Brooks so deftly established. In his book, Brooks dissected zombie behavior so meticulously you almost feel like they’re real. Zombies are killed by shooting or hitting them in the head; they barely function during winter, so that’s the time when you can go out and collect food.

By contrast, there were so many CGI zombies in the movie that the only way to combat them is by shooting randomly from helicopters or setting them ablaze with bombs and massive flame throwers. And they move so fast you can hardly see their faces. The humans could’ve been killing any random monster.

So, is “World War Z” a good movie? I suppose so. It was a thrill to watch, and I’d probably watch it again. But is it a good zombie movie? I’m not sure. I’m not even sure if the war was against zombies at all.

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