World War Z: Mindless, Brain-Eating Fun

I’m off to New York for the International Thriller Writers ThrillerFest. My Young Adult novel If We Survive is nominated for best YA Thriller of the year. I won’t have time to post while I’m gone, so I’ll leave behind some mini-reviews:

Are we there yet?

World War Z – This is one of those films that gets reviewed as much for its budget (somewhere north of $200 million) as for its qualities, but basically it’s an enjoyable and suspenseful summer blockbuster type thing. I have a couple of friends who loved it, a couple who hated it — I just thought it was good enough.  As I’m sure everyone knows, the world is taken over by zombies and Brad Pitt has to try to save it. He does a good job playing a likable and admirable hero, though his backstory is absurd. (He was a war crimes investigator for the U.N. so I guess he’s expert in arriving too late, taking bribes and then doing nothing.) I liked the fact that, for a zombie film, the disgust level is really, really low. Not a lot of splattering and brains and, strange to say, you don’t miss them at all. Also liked the fact that Mireille Enos of The Killing is in it. Man, they must work hard on that TV show to make her look so drab. She’s stunningly beautiful and appealing.

The most interesting thing to me (and this is a little bit of a spoiler, though not much) is that the last third takes place in an enclosed facility and mostly features three actors walking down dark hallways, carrying hand weapons…  essentially a sequence that could have been on a cable TV show. So where did all those millions go, I wonder? But hey, it’s as suspenseful as the rest of it, so it shows you don’t need all that much dough to get things right.

My biggest criticism: there’s not really much of a human story. The hero is a good, resourceful guy in the beginning and he remains a good, resourceful guy. No one changes, no one learns anything, and there’s not much point. Life’s like that sometimes, but it doesn’t cost nine bucks to get in.

All in all: worth seeing for mindless, brain-eating fun. Based on the novel by Max Brooks, which I’ve heard is quite good.


Cross-posted from Klavan on the Culture