Why I liked World War Z

It turns out that one advantage of flying long distances in business class is that I can catch up on films that I didn’t get chance to see at the cinema; today I watched Prometheus and World War Z, and it’s the latter that I’d like to talk about.

Now, I am a huge fan of the book and from everything I’d heard, the film was really only World War Z in name, having had any similarities stripped away by the Hollywood machine, so I wasn’t going in with high hopes. However, it pleasantly surprised me both in enjoyment and in the fact that I don’t think it was as far from the book as certain reviews claimed. Certainly, it didn’t follow the documentary style of the book, but that was always going to be difficult to do anyway (though by all accounts the original script by J. Michael Straczynski was a jolly good attempt). However, it did have a fair few pieces that either came straight from the book (a lot of the ideas in the Israel section) or that would have fitted in perfectly (the North Korea solution was very in keeping, though I won’t spoil it).

So, why did I like it? Three main reasons, but first a quick word on fast zombies… I don’t mind them. I’ve heard two broad arguments against fast zombies: 1) that they would have the coordination to move fast and 2) that dead flesh and bone couldn’t take the strain of moving fast. The first argument is just silly… we’re talking about a fictional virus, so it can have all the cooridination it wants; the second argument is better and might apply to zombies that have decomposed for a while, but fresh zombies would have muscles and bones that are just as strong as ours. Anyway, back to my three reasons…

1) It’s has smart protagonists. One would expect this from any zombie film even tangentially related to the Zombie Survival Guide, but it’s nice to see on screen. Bicycles used as quick and silent transportation, thick magazines taped round an arm to provide a bite shield and not a chainsaw in sight.

2) I liked the government feel. Most zombie films concentrate on ordinary people, which has it’s own merits, but it was a nice change of pace to see things from a government perspective and to have a protagonist with the positive backing of the military (rather than having them as a misguided antagonist, as is often the case).

3) Zombie Swarms. In most zombie films, you get the feeling that they’re minding each other’s personal space a bit too much for mindless killing machines; even when they’re crammed up against each other, they always seem to be quite polite about it, like they’re an equal opportunity horde. The shots of zombies actively scrambling over each other to get to the tasty humans was both terrifying and in many ways, more realistic (if that’s a term that can apply here).

So, all in all, I thought it was worth a watch (Prometheus was pretty good too).

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