The zombie genre is transforming into a topic that is becoming so overexposed in today’s entertainment media that creating something new and fresh to add to the genre is exponentially increasing in difficulty. There are some shows/movies that are memorable due to their twist on the genre: The Walking Dead provides a compassionate look at the human element and the desire for survival and hope like never before, Shaun of the Dead is quite possibly one of the greatest parody films of all time, Zombieland is simply overall comedic and action perfection, and Warm Bodies managed to put a Romeo and Juliet twist and a unique perspective of narrative by having a zombie narrate the film. The classic films, while somewhat dated in certain cases, are still the best films at creating an air of tension and horror that instilled a general fear of thought of a potential zombie outbreak. It is not enough to be scary nowadays; a film needs to have thrills and some other form of narrative ingenuity to stand out from the crowd. If a film can’t do that, it runs of the risk of falling victim to the black hole that is “the Cliché Film.” While it doesn’t quite fall into this black hole, World War Z comes dangerously close to it.
I decided to watch World War Z for a second time before writing this review because there are often times when my opinion on a film will change after the initial viewing. I wasn’t impressed with the film after seeing it in theaters, and sadly, my opinions on the film were not persuaded one way or another after seeing it for a second time. I don’t think any less of the film than I did before, but I don’t think it had any quality points that I missed upon my initial viewing. The biggest problem with World War Z is that it doesn’t have that x-factor like other great zombie films of recent memory. It does a decent job at creating suspension and thrills, but it does nothing else to convince me that it should be placed in the realm of best zombie films of all time. Some may argue that its grand action sequences are revolutionary enough for the genre to allow the film to be placed on a pedestal, but I make the argument that creating large scale, epic action visuals takes a much less amount of artistic/intelligent creativity to create than, say, comedy or replicating a classic story with a new backdrop (referencing Warm Bodies). All it takes is half a mind a bucket load of money to create that. Money can buy you great special effects, but money can’t buy originality.
There are other things that I don’t like about the film. I don’t understand why there were four random explosions within the first thirty minutes of the film. I wasn’t aware that people being infected by a zombie like disease would be an imminent cause of the spontaneous combustion of buildings, but then again maybe I’m wrong. I have a feeling that I’m not though. I appreciate the metaphor of the zombies acting swarming ants, but it wasn’t filmed in the right way. The frantic and unstable camera movements only cause headache and frustration rather than a feeling of empathy towards the apparently hysteria of the situation at hand. The other thing that annoyed me was just how different the film was from the book. Now, I understand that the film and novel are two totally different beings and it isn’t fair to compare the two; however, it would have been nice to see some of the intelligence displayed in the storytelling of the novel translated to the big screen.
Overall, the film is fairly derivate of other zombie works with a lack of originality to allow it make a lasting impression. The ending is rather disappointing in the long run as well, and it drops a majority of the intelligence that made the novel so successful. It has solid action sequences, a relatively iconic shot of the zombies climbing up the wall built around Jerusalem, and some strong moments of tension, but in this day and age, a movie needs to do more than that to grab my attention and earn my praises.
World War Z (2013): 2/4 stars