World War Z (2013), directed by Marc Forster

World_War_Z_poster

When every major city in the world is overrun with zombies, Jerusalem stands alone untouched. This is thanks to their “10th Man” doctrine, which states that when nine men in a select group of ten agree on something, it is the duty of the tenth man to disagree. Nine men agreed that an email intercepted from India that talked of a plague of zombies was nonsense. Perforce the tenth man disagreed. So the Israelis built a wall around their city. (Vegas would love these guys.) Unfortunately, they subsequently abandoned the policy that had saved them from the initial outbreak. I say this because I have to believe that having built a hundred foot wall (in a week, no less) around their city, nine men must have thought, A hundred feet is enough, thereby triggering the tenth man to disagree, resulting in a 200 foot wall. And so on forever — or at least until their supplies ran out or the men and women doing all the heavy lifting adopted their own policy — of decimation.

You have to fall into one of two camps to enjoy World War Z: either you must love zombies (really, really love zombies) or you must love Brad Pitt (a lot). The movie offers nothing else. The story is frankly inane, the supporting characters little more than living zombies themselves. And the dialogue? The only line I remember is one of Pitt’s: “Movement is life,” he says. Yeah, tell that to a tree. Maybe one of those 500 year old redwoods.

The movie might work if viewed as an absurdist comedy; it certainly has plenty of material. Take the scene in which hero Gerry Lane (Pitt) tries to save himself from rampaging zombies with a wall of luggage. Or the one where the Israelis, with the rest of the humanity rapidly being wiped out, decide to sing and dance. And then there’s the one where the man with the plan to figure out how to cure the zombie infection dies moments after he’s introduced. But not before he has time to fill Lane’s head with a lot of gobbledygook about serial killers. Oh, didn’t you know? Mother Nature is a serial killer. And here I was thinking death was a natural process and the old bird was just doing her job.

“The history book on the shelf,” Abba tells us, “is always repeating itself.” Would that it were true. It’s been a lot of years since George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, but the people who made this movie went off and did something new. Romero’s film was about people; this one is about mayhem. It’s like Gone With the Wind — if Gone With the Wind had been an endless stream of nasty Unioners bayoneting everyone in sight.

Whenever people in movies go to war, I have to ask myself what they’re fighting for. In this film, Lane is blackmailed into working for the U.N. and, when it appears as though he may have died in the line of duty, his wife and two daughters are designated “non-essential” and ordered off the Navy ship he worked so hard to get them on. Well, hell, sign me up. The zombies aren’t the problem; they’re the solution to the human apocalypse.

Dumb as it’s depiction is in this film, I think the Israelis were on to something with that whole 10th man thing. When nine movie producers think a movie is a good idea, I propose Hollywood find a tenth to suggest the opposite. Since nine out of ten movies are pretty bad these days, I like those odds.

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