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.

Warm Bodies

“Oh no, they’re going to Twilight-ize zombies,” was the horrified thought that immediately came to mind when I first heard of Warm Bodies, an upcoming film about a zombie who falls in love with a human being.

Based on the trailer, the movie does appear to make zombies likable. And they can think, to some extent.

The idea of likable thinking zombies is something I find hard to accept, since I swear by serious zombie movies like 28 Weeks Later that make me want to stock up on crowbars and crossbows. But I’m giving this movie a shot (hell, I’m actually looking forward to it) because it seems rather smart and well-made. Plus it’s hard not to like Nicholas Hoult, who plays the zombie lead R.

I just hope this movie, described as a “romantic zombie comedy,” will be the first and last of its kind. I never ever want to see zombies with rotting flesh that sparkle when exposed to sunlight.

Walkers

I judge a vehicle by its ability to protect me from zombies, which is why I’ve never been that interested in driving a mere sedan. No, the vehicle  has to be big, with space large enough to store ammo, bats, and chainsaws, because you should always be armed with chainsaws in a zombie apocalypse.

Given this philosophy, I initially thought Rick Grimes (played by Love Actually‘s Andrew Lincoln), the main character in the awesome new AMC series The Walking Dead, made a mistake in choosing to ride a horse when he knew his surroundings were zombie-infested. But that actually turned out to be a brilliant move, because the horse’s substantive meat and innards distracted the flesh-eaters enough to give Rick a few seconds to get into a nearby military tank and hide.

Oh, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I’ve seen the pilot episode of The Walking Dead twice, and I do not regret devoting 120  minutes of my life to it one bit. To describe the pilot as “promising” would be an understatement, because it was so good I got bruised from jumping around next to a stationary bike during the most suspenseful parts.

The Walking Dead, or at least what we’ve seen of the series so far, has all the elements I like in my zombie entertainment: the proliferation of  unthinking undead, characters’ painful backstories,  and good ole brain splatter.

Picture taken from the official AMC website*

The day starts with Rick, a policeman, talking to fellow law enforcer Shane (John Bernthal) about his  strained relationship with his wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies). “Sometimes I wonder if you even care for us at all” were her last words to him—spoken in front of their kid Carl (Chandler Riggs)—before they parted ways for the day, says Rick, pain visible in his face, voice quivering a little.

Their little heart-to-heart gets interrupted when they get called to respond to a police chase, where Rick ends up getting shot on the chest. He is brought to a hospital, where he stays for who knows how long.

When Rick wakes up, all the flowers are wilted, the clock is no longer moving, and there’s no nurse responding to his anguished cries for help. He stumbles out of the hospital and realizes that while he was sleeping,  the world turned into one where the dead walked–or in one case, crawled, despite barely having half a body.

Picture taken from the official AMC website*

What made The Walking Dead—produced by Oscar nominee Frank Darabont based on an acclaimed comic series published by Image Comics—so impressive was how nearly every scene had an eerie stillness to it, the way one would imagine a world full of undead people to be.

The stillness is enough for you to see the agony in Rick’s eyes when he discovers that his family is gone, hear the reverberation of a gun shot that goes though an undead little girl’s head,  and feel the hunger of the countless walking dead.

I can’t wait for the next episode. In the meantime, I might as well work on zombie-proofing our van.

*Click HERE to go to the official AMC website, where you can find more photos and information on the series.