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Thursday, 27 June 2013


Film after film this summer is offering us a supposedly new twist on an old theme. Star Trek Into Darkness provided us with a reimagining of the characters of the Starship Enterprise, Man of Steel did the same for Superman, and Byzantium tried to give the audience a new way of looking at vampires.

And so, inevitably, we come to zombies. The story is familiar, people are infected by.....,well by something, which turns them within ten seconds into a rabid, ultra-violent biting machine. They then infect others, and the plague spreads rapidly.

Jerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is the man charged with finding a solution to the now world-wide crisis that is quickly making global cities
no-go areas for human beings.

There are some impressive set pieces in the movie. The shots of the wave after wave of zombie-ness assaulting cities, buildings, people, vehicles, as if they have become a murderous mass rather that a collection of individuals, are terrifying and impactful.

The scene where Brad has to do something drastic to save an Israeli soldier from turning Zombie is stomach-churning and compelling.

And yet, the constant zombie attacks quickly become boring. Moreover, there is absolutely no character development here, we know almost nothing about what kind of people we are watching on screen. Even Brad is a mystery. All subtlety is washed away in this constant stream of scenes where characters are running away from zombies, fighting zombies, being eaten by zombies, escaping zombies.

Brad saves the day in the end, of course, more or less, but in a way that is totally unconvincing. We are asked to accept a range of assumptions and poorly explained solutions that assume that the viewer isn't going to think too much about Brad's magical discovery of how to defeat the zombie hoards.

What's more, we've seen this before, just like all of the other films this summer. We've seen 28 Days Later, and 28 Weeks Later, and The Living Dead and In the Flesh and Boy Eats Girl and I am Legend, and we've laughed at Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland. It's been done, it's been done, and it's been done again.

And even by the end there is still no explanation of what is causing the zombies to turn, is it a virus, is it supernatural? Why are they impervious to bullets to the torso? Nothing is never explained adequately.

Despite the unconvincing elements, there are things to enjoy about the film. It is well paced, and the scenes depicting besieged cities from the air do communicate well the sheer catastrophe that has befallen the planet.

Yet, in the end it leaves you crying out for just one original idea, just one real innovation, just one new way of looking at these tired old genres. And this film didn't provide any of this, it is more film-making by numbers, incorporating elements you have seen a hundred times before. Has "ORIGINALITY" become a dirty word in Hollywood?


  1. It's true, there are things to enjoy about the film but there were so many disappointments. The biggest problem that I saw was that Pitt was more-or-less left to carry the whole film on his ownio as supporting character after supporting character was left behind or killed or eaten or whatever, it honestly didn't matter as you are not made to care for them in any case. Even his family, for whom he is supposedly doing all he does, get sidelined very early and poorly treated at the end. As well as that the plot has clearly suffered from multiple rewrites and ends up not making a lot of sense and the ending was confusing and anti-climactic. I often complain about Holywood finales ruining films but World War Z was crying out for a finale of some sort. On the other hand, I agree that a lot of the set-pieces were very impressive. They depicted the terrifying speed of the spread of the virus well and the action scenes in Israel were eye-popping. In the end, though, having read Max Brooks' excellent 2006 novel, the movie was a total let down that bore almost no resemblance to the original work.

    1. I only heard about the rewrites after I had seen and reviewed it, but it makes sense now, as it was quite disjointed and random. The ending too could have done with a bit more of an impact. To do an effective zombie film now you need some kind of new slant, and this didn't have that. I have since seen Warm Bodies, a kind of tongue-in-cheek zombie love story that is much better and worth checking out.

  2. Agree with you, but you know what? I enjoyed the film (I just rented recently). It is pure an action film. It is true that it is not character development, and the how start is not clear. I read the book (well I listened it :-) and it is amazing (and nothing to be with the film, as usual, zombies are super slow and the book is about interviews after the events. A must) But despite all of that, I enjoyed it. maybe I was just in the mood for it :-)


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