World War Z

Brad Pitt made a zombie movie. Not a funny zombie movie like Zombieland or Warm Bodies, but a serious zombie movie. Why?

Maybe because Pitt’s character, Gerry Lane, turns out to be the savior of humanity? Maybe because he’s the only well-known actor in the film, so he’ll be a real-life savior for his co-producers if it’s a hit? (Which it will likely be.) Maybe because it’s the time of the season for zombies and a zombie movie that doesn’t even snicker at the undead?

World War Z has some amazing effects. A teeming throng of zombies, looking like ants, climbs upon one another to scale a high wall. Another teeming throng of zombies runs through the streets of Philadelphia chasing a throng of non-zombies. An airplane… (No, wait, no spoiler here.) Rumors about production costs for the film go as high as $200 million.

Lane is a husband and father. After helping his family escape a tense situation in downtown Philly gridlock and more danger in Newark, they’re all ‘coptered to a carrier in the Atlantic which is serving as UN command center.

After Lane is convinced to help save the world, he and his crew go first to South Korea where gun battles in the dark beg the question, how can you tell the zombies from the normals? Then, he’s off to Jerusalem. As he eludes pursuing zombies with a female Jewish soldier in tow, he amputates her hand to prevent a zombie bite from infecting her. They escape by hailing a Belarus airliner on the runway and flying off to a World Health Organization facility somewhere in Europe.

Here’s where Lane offers one of those long shot “this just might work” ideas, reminiscent of an off-the-wall diagnosis on the House TV show. An intense cat-and-mouse game (actually zombie-and-normal game) ensues, providing the movie’s tense climax.

Here’s my main problem with World War Z: It’s a serious zombie movie. I’m not sure “serious” and “zombie” should go together. I know that zombies are hot stuff right now, but even as well made as TV’s The Walking Dead is, I have trouble buying into that show.

If you, however, are on the zombie bandwagon, you will, I think, want to zip and zoom and zero in on this zesty, zingy film, along with zillions more zombiphiles.

Warm Bodies

A zombie romantic comedy? Well, yes. And an entertaining one, too!

Warm Bodies owes its charm to its central character R, played by Nicholas Hoult. He’s a zombie who has the ability to be objective about his plight. (We learn his thoughts via voiceover.)

He finds humor in the slow, plodding gait of his fellow zombies (and himself). He chuckles inwardly about the vague grunts that pass for communication among the walking dead. He also reveals that he is lonely.

When a group of normal humans (who live within a fortified enclave, following the vague event that has decimated civilization) venture out and encounter zombies, the results are not good. The zombies launch a ruthless attack, but R chooses to spare one young woman named Julie, played by Teresa Palmer.

He does eat her boyfriend’s brain, which causes him to experience the late boyfriend’s memories, many of which are about Julie. (Don’t worry about the brain eating scenes; this is not a gross-out movie.)

After Julie escorts him back to the abandoned jetliner he lives (okay, exists) in, his attempts to communicate his affection are best delivered by songs he plays on old vinyl LPs.

Eventually he leads her back to the enclave and, later, manages to slip within the walls himself. This sets up the climax involving the zombies, the even more ruthless skeletal zombies and the normal humans. The leader of the normals, played by John Malkovich, is also Julie’s father.

Warm Bodies (rated PG-13) is a lightweight film targeted to young adults and teens. It’s also okay for most pre-teens, despite its low-level gore and violence. This movie’s slugline could be “zombies are people, too,” as R is revealed to have human emotions despite his condition.

I don’t consider it a spoiler to mention that the film has some parallels with a famous classic play about a certain “R & J,” but Warm Bodies has a much gentler ending.