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Movie Talk: ‘World War Z’ DVD Review


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Written by: Wayne C. Rogers

Let me just first say that I watch all of movies on regular DVD.  I seldom go to the theater anymore because the seats are uncomfortable, the popcorn stale, the Diet Coke flat, and occasionally I have the stupid person who sits down right in front or behind me when there’s an entirely empty theater of seats to choose front.  I’d rather stay home by myself and watch the film on DVD.  It’s less hassle and more fun for me.

Second, I do own a new Blu-Ray DVD player.  I just can’t get it hooked up to the big clunker of an old television that comes with the apartment.  They’ll be happy to supply me with a Blu-Ray television for ten bucks a week, but that comes to nearly five hundred dollars a year.  I can buy one cheaper.  I just have to stop buy books and DVDs for a month or two.  Other than that, I have a great Sony player for regular DVDs and the movies look fine when I watch them.

I never read the novel, World War Z, by Max Brooks.  Brad Pitt, however, must be a zombie fan because he bought the movie rights in 2007, which was way before The Walking Dead appeared on AMC television.  It took Brad Pitt five years to make the film at a cost of $190 million dollars.  The movie has internationally grossed over $540 million.  It broke even.  It didn’t make a profit.  A film has to make three times its cost to break even, which is divided amongst the studios, the distributors and the theater chains.

Now, because I was unable to see the Blu-Ray edition, which was the extended version of the film with a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff on it, I had to settle for the theatrical version on a regular DVD.  Still, I got it for $7.95, along with the Blu-Ray edition, because Amazon was having a huge sell at the time.  Supposedly, the Blu-Ray edition with the added footage (30-to-40 more minutes) makes more sense than the original film that was shown in the theaters in June of 2012.  Having seen the regular DVD, I found the movie to be understandable and entertaining.  In fact, I was glued to the television set for the entire length of the film.  Brad Pitt is now the king of zombie movies.  Long live the king.

The film pretty much starts right into the action with Brad Pitt (an ex-United Nations investigator) and his family getting caught in a traffic jam in Philadelphia.  The zombie epidemic has already spread from Europe to the United States with blinding-like speed (in fact it only takes twelve seconds for a dead person to change into a killing zombie).  Brad’s character, Gerry Lane, calls his friend at the United Nations so that he and his family can be air-lifted out of the city.  That does happen, but only after being chased by a horde of zombies to the roof of a building in downtown Philly.  If Brad wants his family to be protected, he has to do what the military tells him, which is to fly into Russia and try to find a cure for the decease.  This is the rest of the movie.  Brad flies to Russia and then to Israel and then to a decease outpost where the most infamous deceases known to mankind are studied.

Is a cure eventually found for the humans still alive?  You have the movie, but a sequel is already in the works.

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Let me tell you that these zombies aren’t slow walkers.  No, sir.  These fellows can move fast and take no prisoners.  The special effects of the movie are awesome in my opinion as thousands of zombies pile on top of each other to climb over the wall surrounding Jerusalem.  Remember, zombies can’t be killed, unless you shoot them in the head.

I certainly enjoyed the pacing of the movie.  It didn’t really give you time to think, but I liked what Brad Pitt’s character was able to discover and the shootouts with the zombies.  A female Israeli commando is bitten in the arm, and Brad cuts the arm off without any hesitation, leaving her alive, but with one arm.  Fortunately, she’s a tough cookie and can shoot with that arm, too.

One thing I liked (or didn’t like) was how our government was portrayed.  It seemed very believable to me.  When Brad reached a point where he thought he wouldn’t be able to find a cure, the military removed his family from the ship and sent them to an island with other personnel.  If you’re of no use to the government, they don’t hesitate to throw you and your family to the wolves.  So much for ObamaCare!

Being a big fan of the early George Romero zombie movies and The Walking Dead television series, I found myself impressed with this film and Brad Pitt’s acting.  The whole movie more or less is on his shoulders, and he carries the weight without any problems, displaying his ultimate skills as a truly excellent actor.  He makes this movie happen, and you believe in him and his love for his family.  Mireille Enos (she stars in the TV series, The Killing) is the perfect actress of his wife in the movie.  If Angelina Jolie had been in it, you would have expected her to go after the zombies and kick butt.  Not so with Mireille.  She’s the perfect mother hen who watches out for her children, praying her husband will return alive to protect them.

Because I couldn’t watch the Blu-Ray disc, I can’t comment on the extended version of the film, or the extras that are on the disc.  I do want to see them, but I need to buy a television for my Blu-Ray player so the disc will show.

All in all, I was surprised at how much I loved this movie.  The question is will I immediately watch the film again on a regular disc, or wait until I can get a Blu-Ray television and watch the extended version of it?  If only life was so easy.

I highly recommend this movie to all zombie fans, especially if you haven’t read the novel.

Rating: 5/5

About The Overseer (1669 Articles)
Author of Say No to Drugs, writer for Blumhouse, Dread Central, Horror Novel Reviews and Addicted to Horror Movies.

9 Comments on Movie Talk: ‘World War Z’ DVD Review

  1. Solid review, Wayne. I know a lot of die hard fans of the Brooks source novel loathed it, but I found Word War Z to be a fun, scary ride in the way Jaws was – not so much the dark, ultraviolent and nihilistic sort of horror we’d experince in, say, a Romero “Dead” movie as the breathless, “the heroes are in danger from one second to the next” kind of horror. I will say, though, that there were two moments where World War Z really got under my skin as a flat out scare flick. One was when they reached South Korea and came across the zombies in the razor wire. That was just creepy. That image stayed with me for a few days. The other is the scene (partially glimpsed in just about every trailer for this flick, but which really needs to be experienced in its full, unrelenting glory to be truly appreciated) where literally thousands of zombies stage a relentless assault on Jerusalem. The clips of that sequence in the tv spots do not do it justice. I can remember walking out of the theater after and having someone ask me what I thought of the movie, to which I replied “Well, I can safely say we’ve reached the apex of depicting a full on zombie assault on film.” I also enjoyed how, later in the film when things move indoors during the laboratory sequence, the pace shifts gears and adopts a tone much closer to that of the Romero films. I agree with you, Wayne. It may not faithfully stick to the novel, but I really enjoyed the film adaptation of World War Z.

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  2. Wayne C. Rogers // January 12, 2014 at 3:36 am // Reply

    Many thanks for the kind comments, DS. I wish I could write a review without any mistakes in it. No matter how many times I go over the thing, I always find something in the first sentence. I think my mind is deteriorating faster than a human changes into a zombie. I do, however, want to see the Blu-Ray edition of this movie with the extended version. That’s got me curious, plus 30 minutes or more is a lot of extra footage. Now, when Matt puts up my 5 1/2 page article on John Carpenter and his 5 best films, I wonder how many mistakes I’m going to find? I suspect they’ll be more than the amount of zombies attacking the Holy Land.

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    • Tell me about it, man. In the Wes craven piece, I actually had a sentence slip past me where I used the word “movie” twice. I had meant to change the second one to the word “narrative” and just forgot. Things like that irk me.

      Whenever I make the switch to Blu Ray (I’m also still on standard DVD at present) I plan on checking out that extended cut myself, though I’m of the opinion the studio should be making that version avialable on DVD as well. The format isn’t going away for a while yet. It’s a bit early yet to have a release pattern that suggests it’s already gone the way of VHS releases.

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  3. I agree. It was a solid film & kept me entertained throughout. It’s hard to pack so much action into a movie, even if you push its length to the max run time of two hours!

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  4. I haven’t seen this yet, but from what I know of it, I really wish they’d just done a standard zombie film without using the book as a basis. I’d strongly recommend reading the book; it’s brilliantly written and a very interesting take on the zombie apocalypse. There’s also his short story Closure Inc, which adds a really emotional aspect to it. From people I’ve spoken to who have seen and read World War Z, they’ve said it’s a good zombie film, worth watching, but shouldn’t have been marketed as World War Z – it’s apparently nothing like the novel at all. Shame.

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    • Wayne C. Rogers // January 12, 2014 at 10:40 pm // Reply

      I agree with you about the differences between movies and the books they’re based upon. My understanding is that after Brad Pitt bought the film rights to the novel several years ago, he put up more of his money and had a screenplay written that was closer to the actual book. The studios didn’t like it. So, Pitt had the script rewritten again and again and again, until the studios finally greenlighted the project and were willing to put up a $120 million to begin with. When the film was finished, the studios didn’t like the ending. The last third of the movie was completely rewritten and re-filmed at a cost of $70 million dollars. After all the rewrites, I suspect this is why the movie bares very little resemblance to the novel. Like you said, in almost all instances, the novel is much better than the film. I still have to read the book. The thing is I’m not really into zombie novels. I will watch a good zombie movie or television series, but I don’t think I’ve actually a book about zombies during the last thirty-five years, unless you count Stephen King’s novel, Cell.

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      • I’d still suggest World War Z. It reads very much like a history textbook; it gets to the point where it feels almost like it could have really happened. And it’s not a typical zombie novel at all! I can imagine Pitt maybe wanting to have done something closer to the book, but it’s a shame that the studios wouldn’t have had faith in that. Personally, a docudrama would have been so much more effective.

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  5. I’ll be honest – I didn’t dig the movie much at all. It felt cluttered, and the visual effects pretty much buried it for me. Like Brad Pitt – didn’t enjoy the movie. It struck me as a ‘only good when drunk and looking for brainless action’ kind of movie.

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  6. Wayne C. Rogers // January 12, 2014 at 11:04 pm // Reply

    The extended version (30-to-40 extra minutes) is supposed to be a lot better and to have more explanations in it. A large number of reviews on Amazon were negative. It was because of that reason I waited so long to buy the DVD. Then, Amazon had a sale and offered the Regular DVD and the Blu-ray edition for $7.95. I’ve spent more than that on movies I didn’t enjoy. But, I actually liked this one, and I was watching it while a baby was crying (not mine) and the volume of the tv was turned so low I could barely hear what was being said. I want to watch it again, but I want it to be the Blu-Ray edition with the extra footage so I can see what the differences are.

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