Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

World War Z


I’d call this a missed opportunity. The premise is preposterous, but many SF premises are. Here it is: From somewhere (we never find out where, but North Korea is suspected at first) a virus emerges that turns people into … well, they’re calling them zombies, but I saw no evidence that they were dead. They were just strong, and quick, and single-minded. They aren’t even looking to eat brains. Their sole compulsion is to bite other people. Once bitten, it takes about twenty seconds of violent convulsions for a person to also turn zombie.

Just imagine if a thing could really spread that fast. It would take only minutes for everyone on a particular city street to turn zombie. It’s possible to avoid them, but it’s not easy. They are attracted to sound, they don’t seem to see very well. But they have no fear, they are relentless, and only a bullet to the head will put them down permanently.

Okay, I accept all that. And it gives us the opportunity to see some scenes of truly staggering self-sacrifice, as literally millions of zombies are willing to form a living pile, crushing those at the bottom, to scale a high wall. CGI has become so good that a crowd of thousands and thousands of people are each individualized, dressed differently, moving with a human gait, even have expressions on their faces. Wow. Okay? Wow.

So what do they do? What does director Marc Forster, who I assume is responsible for the decision to turn this into a piece of shit, do? He uses the infamous shaky-cam so much that almost all the early action scenes are totally incomprehensible. Just blurs of light, hints of shapes, then everything performing a spastic dance as if being filmed through a teenager’s cell phone camera while he’s skateboarding.

WHY? WHY WHY WHY? I’ve had enough of this Cloverfield “found footage” concept. It was okay, at first, as an experiment. But it needs a justification. The idea should be that it WAS found in a camera left behind by someone in trouble who didn’t have time to frame a shot, or mount a tripod. There’s nothing like that here. It stinks. It sucks, and so does every director in Hollywood who is addicted to this shit.

You want to know if a director is really, really bad? Look at the scenes where no real action is happening except a few people talking. Does the camera swing and sway like a drunk? That’s a bad director. That’s a director with no confidence in his material, and no creativity. That’s you, Marc Foster, and I don’t know how in hell you could have moved from a great little movie like Stranger Than Fiction to this hunk of overblown garbage.

Oh, and the resolution of the zombie problem is way beyond stupid, too. All of which is too damn bad, as Brad Pitt works very hard and is very smart, does the right things. I was pulling for him, and for the Israeli soldier who is helping him (nicely played by Daniella Kertesz). When she gets bitten on the hand, he instantly makes the decision to cut off the hand, and she never upbraids him for it. That was cool. There are nice touches like that. All buried in the chaos of the filming technique.