Now that opening week is well and truly over, and anybody who is anybody has long since opined on the subject and moved on, I have a confession to make.
I really enjoyed the movie World War Z.
Most opinions fell somewhere between dismissive – it was nothing like the book! and Gah! Hollywood! They ruin everything! and How can you call it a zombie movie without blood and guts and gore? – and damning with faint praise – Well, it hardly broke new ground, but I’ll give ’em points for the action scenes. I’ve never read the book, and even if I had, I consider books and movies to be two completely different art forms, so I don’t hold it against either form if they don’t precisely correspond. And – here’s another confession coming up – despite being a horror fiction aficionado, blood and guts and gore do not appeal to me. So the factors that had haters hating had me going either, “Meh,” or “You say that like it’s a bad thing!”
(**SPOILER ALERT** I’m guessing you’ve either already seen it or are never likely to see it, but in case you’ve just emerged from a coma and are waiting for them to remove the drips before heading for the nearest cinema, please stop reading now.)
In no particular order, here are some of the other things I liked about World War Z the movie.
- It has Brad Pitt in it.
- The scene where the Lane family compete with all the other supermarket looters when they needed asthma medication encapsulated beautifully just how I imagine society would go in the event of a zombie apocalypse. The normally law-abiding citizens who turned into pack animals and tried to rape Karin Lane, the cop who jogged straight on past the chaos and headed straight for the baby food, the gun-toting, hoodie-wearing young man who retained enough decency to help the Lanes find the medication they needed, and of course our hero, switching into survival mode – it was all there, shown with an exquisite economy of storytelling.
- On a bigger scale, we got a glimpse of the different ways entire governments try to deal with the apocalypse. America scoops up its most important citizens, flies them to a big-ass ship in the middle of the ocean, and puts up a big, fat middle finger to everyone else. North Korea pulls all the teeth of every man, woman and child in the country (all 24 million of them) within a 24 hour period; no teeth, no spread of infection. Israel builds a massive wall around Jerusalem and as fast as it can, admits uninfected people inside; the director of Mossad explains to an incredulous Gerry that the more people they save, the fewer people get infected and the smaller the threat on the other side of the wall.
- Usually, Hollywood would have our hero shepherd the young genius doctor and last hope for the human race through impossible scenarios and deliver him safe and sound with the cure in hand – or, if they want a tragic edge on the otherwise happy ending, the doctor falls after a valiant battle and protracted death scene at the very last hurdle, leaving our hero to finish the last leg of the race alone. In World War Z, Dr Andrew Fassbach literally doesn’t last five minutes; as soon as they depart the plane in South Korea they encounter zombies, and the good doctor panics, slips in the rain and accidentally shoots himself. And that is also how I imagine the zombie apocalypse would really go.
- Who needs blood and guts when you have the macabrely beautiful and beautifully macabre scene in a South Korean jail cell? A room full of ash still clinging together in the pristine white outlines of incinerated human bodies.
- Navy SEALs on bicycles.
- OK, even I was rolling my eyes when Gerry detonated the hand grenade in the plane, but at least he bothered to fasten his seatbelt, and that of his one-handed companion Segen. Hollywood would normally have our hero defying the laws of physics by holding on to a fold-out tray with one hand and the damsel in distress with the other, while every other occupant on the plane gets sucked out of the gaping hole in the side.
- Never mind the weapons – the most important tools for surviving the zombie apocalypse are going to be magazines and duct tape.
- And did I mention that Brad Pitt is in it?