Written by: John Edward Betancourt
Disasters, whether we like to acknowledge it or not, are apart of our lives. Be it man made tragedies, or mother nature reminding all of us we just live here, they will touch us in some way. Yet in our modern era, there has yet to be a major global disaster, one that threatens mankind's very existence. But if one were to arrive, there seems to be a consensus that it will come in the form of a pandemic of some kind.
Of course in the creative world that opens up many a possibility and if there is any topic that tops our list of potential pandemics it is the resurrection of the dead. Yet one aspect of zombie lore that has yet to be explored in the genre is the actual effect on our world in the opening days of the pandemic. Sure we have seen the aftermath or some of the beginning of the end through the eyes of survivors but never the scale of such a disaster. At least, not until World War Z.
Gerry Lane is a former United Nations operative who has finally left the chaos of the field for domestic life. That is until the world changes in the blink of eye. Reports of outbreaks of Rabies and acts of violence turn out be something far worse, the dead are returning to life and man is their prey. These reanimated corpses are fierce, and a single bite will transform anyone in eleven seconds, giving them an incredible advantage and bringing man to the brink of extinction. In a last ditch effort to find the source of the virus causing all of this to potentially find a cure, Gerry is forced to leave his family behind and search the globe for answers that may stop this pandemic before it is too late.
So there are a few burning questions undoubtedly on your mind when it comes to this movie. Is it terrible? No. Is it going to leave you cheering when the credits roll? No. The film is so-so, and with good reason, this is by no means a traditional zombie film, or a horror film for that matter. Truth is, this is a disaster movie that happens to use zombies as the disaster. But, the film gets major props for showing off what our world would look like if the dead were to rise and there are definitely chills that come from that.
Yet what hurts World War Z are a few things. For starters, fast corpses always baffle me. I really don't know how a dead creature can do all the things these ones do. They swarm and they leap and I just don't understand how that happens when well...they're dead. But that is the least of the film's concerns, what really made this film just be "okay" was one important element you need when it comes to zombies....hopelessness. Now that's not to say hope has no place in the genre, but at no point did I feel the terror of the end of the world that I have in watching so many other zombie films.
It seemed like the answers were always there, and I do give the film credit for its solution to the zombie menace. But let's look at something important here. Death is a big deal. We fear it, yet we also welcome it. If a loved one is suffering from a terminal medical condition for months on end and they finally succumb to the illness we are relieved that their suffering has come to an end. On a more personal level death is the final page in a story of accomplishments for us. We work toward seeing that final page be filled with joy and satisfaction of a life lived to the fullest.
In the George Romero world of zombies and well the vast majority of zombie stories, that is robbed from all of us. There is no peace in our end, no celebration because we become an abomination. It rocks the foundation of our society and that is how the zombies win. We are traumatized by the fact that one of the ideals we hold closest to us is removed from our way of life. That is what I mean by hopelessness. Despite the survivors' plight, it is in a way...all in vain.
Not once did I feel that watching World War Z. Sure, people died, and I can even live without the blood and guts since it holds a PG-13 rating, but I can't handle the fact that there is hope in a zombie film. Regardless, do check it out. Brad Pitt is outstanding as always as Gerry Lane and from a disaster film stand point, the movie does kick ass. Just check your love of zombies and the book at the door and you'll have a fine time.