Can the World War Z movie be as amazing as Max Brooks' oral history novel? Probably not, but that's doesn't mean it can't be an interesting action movie all on its own. We saw a ton of intense, brutal footage at CinemaCon — including one set piece you'll be talking about for days. Spoilers ahead...
We've found a way to make peace with the World War Z movie: By disassociating the film the book. After getting bludgeoned by the relentless footage we saw tonight, we finally get WWZ. It's a big dumb scary movie, that might just keep you on the edge of your chair for hours.
Before the actual short screening, Brad Pitt said he wanted to make a movie his sons could see (before they were 18) that they would actually like. And they're really into zombies. He should say this before anybody watches the trailer, because it all makes sense now. This movie is basically a Hollywood version of your child's backyard fantasy. Blow everything straight to hell. And once we got on board with that, it was actually quite fun.
The first scene starts off with Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) stuck in traffic inside a family car, with his two girls and wife. Together, they are all generally adorable. But all that comes to a screeching halt when a zombie attack floods the overcrowded streets of New York City. It happens quick as hell, and the tension and action don't seem to stop, no matter where Gerry runs to. These new zombies are fast, and can somehow make trucks fly over other trucks. Once the undead ball gets rolling, it's a nightmare ride of confusion and terror.
More importantly, this New York zombie set piece is the "establishing the undead rules" moment. World War Z zombies are not only fast, but they're also crazy. They will smash any part of their own bodies to get at their meat. The undead just rail their foreheads into car windows and windshields. You see them jumping off buildings, smashing cars and crawling up to get to their human prey. The infection is also fast. One bite, just one, and the virus takes hold. The new hosts shake and contorts their bodies for just a few violent moments, then their veins go black and their eyes go grey and they start looking for food, aggressively. Gerry watches this transformation closely.
The second sequence takes place in Jerusalem behind a giant wall. Inside, people are singing over loud speakers trying to keep their mood light by praying. Outside the wall, there is a horde of grey contorting bodies slamming against the stone wall, trying to claw their way in. Gerry is there to meet with someone about smuggling him into India. "India is a black hole," his friend says. But that's where Gerry believes "patient zero" is, and he'll stop at nothing to get there. As this conversation continues, the noise from the humans inside gets louder, and it sets the zombies outside off. They begin piling onto each other like ants. Slowly they make their way over the wall, and it's like run, scream, bite. Gerry manages to escape under a very terrifying chase scene under a caged-in street. But Jerusalem has fallen.
The final scene — and quite possibly the most bad-ass moment out of the whole film — is set on a plane. Gerry sits on the floor, in front of a girl with a shaved head. The flight attendant makes an announcement to the overcrowded plane that even though the airport is closed, they're going to be able to land. No one cheers, they all look like hell, but you can tell this is good news. It doesn't last.
Somehow (thanks to movie magic), a zombie is stuck inside the elevator of the plane. He's released, and bites the flight attendant. The infection spreads fast. Gerry hears the ruckus behind him, and alerts the other passengers in First Class as they slowly, quietly, attempt to build a wall between the two sections of the plane made out of suitcases. Smart plan — until someone knocks a suitcase over, and the economy zombies are alerted to the presence of new meat. It's a blood bath. A total nightmare. Zombies on a plane! This is the first close-up look we're getting of the new batch of undead, and they are disgusting but appear to be bloodless... which is odd. Also the newly undead like to make *chomp chomp* noises with their mouths at their victims, which will probably play well with the kids. But as a human adult, it's pretty ridiculous.
With nothing left to do, Gerry pulls the pin out of a grenade, and blows the back end of the plane to hell. It is so intense, if you can make it through this movie without blacking out after the relentless scares, you're going to have fun. It's like Transformers, back when Transformers was fun — only not terrible and with no shaky-cam. But every bit as stupid.
If you're going to see this movie just take your copy of WWZ and burry it in the ground. Say a few words and let it die. If you can't do that, don't see this movie.