World War Z

Rating: World War Z is as pretty as a picture. Come to think of it, it is a picture.

World War ZAs I contemplated my review of Mark Forster’s World War Z, I was reminded of a moment when I worked part-time for a local trucking company when I was in law school. It was 1972, and I always enjoyed talking to Herman Yager, the oldest, most bedraggled over-the-road driver in the company. I was in the midst of a rapidly failing marriage, and Herman offered this profound insight into his success in surviving this convoluted institution. Referring to his aging spouse, he said, “You know, Bob, she spends all my money and she ain’t much to look at, but she’s clean.”;

Well, Herman, while World War Z is far more visually stunning than your lovely bride, its various moments of excitement barely dwarf an ending that is so intellectually absurd that it nearly sucked the life out of the entire film.

Additionally, I have to admit that I still am a movie fan who likes Brad Pitt. I know that he has been rejected by many, particularly women, since he made the unfortunate decision to run off with Angelina Jolie while filming Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), but maybe he felt the need to father 6 children in the shortest time span in human history.

More to the point, you simply can’t ignore his career. He hit the ground running in Thelma & Louise (1991), and there wasn’t a single woman in the movie theater who didn’t love old J.D. His sexual appeal certainly was further helped by his roles in Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994) and Legends of the Fall of the same year.

It was then that he shed his pretty boy image with such powerful performances in Sev7en (1995), Fight Club (1999) and Snatch (2000). Though he got somewhat sidetracked with his role in the Ocean’s 11 trilogy (2001-2007), he hit the ground running with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), Inglorious Basterds (2009) and Moneyball (2011).

On the other hand, the problem that I personally have with Mr. Pitt does not relate to his  leaving Jennifer Aniston in the wings. I simply don’t understand his need to style his hair as if he is an escapee from a State mental institution (also see this year’s Killing Them Softly), and I strongly suspect it has something to do with the twisted sister that he now calls “dear” at home.

Putting all that aside, World War Z is a zombie movie where these gnarly creatures actually run nearly as fast as the Jamaican speedster Usain Bolt. Instead of influenza spreading around the globe killing millions, something has caused humans to quickly mutate into carnivorous zombies, quickly leaving them with nothing else to do but seek out and bite the nearest human. And that bite is deadly, instantaneously causing an unfortunate transformation in its victims.

Cities across the globe are being consumed by this ravenous attack, and Pitt is able to flee his home in Philadelphia with his wife and two gorgeous daughters with the help of the military. It seems he had served in an undercover fashion for the UN years earlier, and they are again seeking his help.

What ensues is Pitt’s rather interesting journey as he flies from South Korea to Russia via Jerusalem. Zombies are hot-to-trot everywhere but North Korea, where it seems that the 25 million residents were required to remove all of their teeth in 24 hours for obvious reasons. You can criticize the North Koreans all you want, but the world will obviously be theirs if zombies really do gain some traction in our near future.

While all of the supporting actors give solid performances, you simply can’t overlook Noa Bodner, who plays an Israeli Camp soldier. Having had her left arm partially severed by Pitt after being bitten by a zombie, she journeys with Pitt to the very end. I’m having trouble remembering a more provocative woman with a shaved head appearing in any recent film.

While I probably should go ahead and give away the unfortunate ending, I will let you find that out for yourself. Suffice it to say that Pitt should have died on the spot, but I suspect that that would have required Ms. Jolie to begin hanging  a vial of his blood around her neck.

Director Mark Forster has brought us some clever films in the past, namely Monster’s Ball (2001), Finding Neverland (2004) and Quantum of Solace (2008). With World War Z, he recovers a bit of his strength, and at a minimum will help us all forget his woeful contribution last year, Machine Gun Preacher. Better to have Mr. Pitt fighting zombies with his head of bad hair rather than be forced to watch Gerard Butler find Jesus as he attempts to help assorted orphans in Africa.