Movie Review: World War z

Movie Review: World War z

Fan fascination with zombie's continues in World War Z

By Mark HadleyWednesday 19 Jun 2013MoviesReading Time: 3 minutes

World War Z is a film about a virus that turns the majority of the world’s population into zombies … and in writing that I realize that now half my readership is wondering whether their time would be better spent weeding the patio than finishing this article. Persevere a little longer, though, and let me explain why this blockbuster might actually be one of this year’s most relevant films. 

 The fan fascination with zombie's continues with 'World War Z'. 
World War Z kicks off when present day health workers begin to notice a strange new disease nicknamed ‘African Rabies’ that has a 100% mortality rate, but re-animates the victim as a voracious killer. The process is so swift that all it takes are a few doubts to allow an implacable enemy to gain the upper hand. “Life as we know it will come to an end in 90 days,” a US officer informs shell-shocked survivors. And so the predictable ‘race to save the world’ swings into effect.

Brad Pitt stars as Gerry Lane, the United Nations worker tasked with tracking the pandemic to its roots. His epic struggle, fuelled by fears for the family he’s left behind, is based on the New York Times best-seller by Max Brooks. This is not a page for page translation but more like Wil Smith’s re-working of the Isaac Asimov book I, Robot where the action is set in a world that reflects the author’s creation. Of course this Paramount-led production has taken liberties for the big screen – a bite-to-zombie process that takes seconds, a fast-paced adventure rather than the book’s post-war investigation – but it’s managed to preserve the author’s key concern: our struggle to come to terms with unreasoning threats. 

Brook’s zombies might seem far-fetched but he told the Washington Post they’re actually a mirror for today’s greatest fears:

“The lack of rational thought has always scared me when it came to zombies, the idea that there is no middle ground, no room for negotiation … Of course that applies to terrorists, but it can also apply to a hurricane, or flu pandemic, or the potential earthquake … Any kind of mindless extremism scares me, and we’re living in some pretty extreme times.”

Unsurprisingly Brooks’ depiction of religion also mirrors our current extreme reactions. His governments struggle with cult-like groups that see an avenging God in every tragedy, just as ours did the rise of AIDS or the fall of the Twin Towers:

“We had our share of religious fundamentalists, what country didn’t? Many of them believed that [by fighting] we were, in some way, interfering with God’s will.”

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And on the other hand there are those who see the ‘unreasoning horror’ as evidence there is no God. So the question goes, ‘How can an in-control Creator allow a tragedy that is clearly so indiscriminating? That kills the innocent with the wicked.’ 

World War Z’s is not a new question – not even a secular one. Dig into the Old Testament and you’ll find the prophet Habakkuk demanding how his God can send the Babylonians, “… a feared and dreaded people,” to discipline His people – the ancient equivalent of unrelenting, indiscriminate zombie killers. What gets Habakkuk through? Realising that he’s not watching the end but the middle of the movie. He waits and in time he sees that God’s genius is to bring good out of even the most incredible evil. 

We can do the same. Watch Brad Pitt evade the grasping undead, battle against the seemingly pointless destruction and observe that the brightest outcomes always emerge from the darkest places. God has placed us in a difficult world so that we are forced to make moral choices. Hopefully we’ll learn to respond like his prophet, 

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”  

Rating: M
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: June 20, 2013