World War Z review

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AS FAR as zombie apocalypses go, the latest entry into the genre – World War Z – hits the ground running and doesn’t let up for breath until the finale.

Brad Pitt stars as retired UN investigator Gerry Lane who is brought back into the fold to stop the zombie pandemic from wiping out the human race.

The film opens with Lane preparing breakfast for his wife, Karin (Mireille Enos), and their two kids.

This domestic bliss ends abruptly on a morning drive through Philadelphia when traffic is brought to a halt as zombies start attacking everyone in sight.

Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) getting his family to safety after the zombie outbreak occurs.

Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) getting his family to safety after the zombie outbreak occurs.

After getting his family to safety, Lane is called upon by his former employers to discover the origins of the outbreak.

Based on a novel by Max Brooks and coming in at a budget of about $200 million, it is by far the most expensive zombie film created for the screen and it shows as Pitt’s character traverses the globe from South Korea to Israel in some jaw-dropping scenes.

Director Marc Forster (Monsters Ball, Finding Neverland, Quantum of Solace) shows he is adept at controlling these large action sequences, as well as the more stealth orientated scenes and the result is that audiences never feel lost amid all the zombie chomping carnage.

The film, to its credit, eschews any long tedious explanation of how this zombie outbreak occurred, though there are hints to its cause at the beginning.

Instead it relies simply on throwing Pitt’s character straight into one high tension set piece after another with enough diversity in each as to avoid any repetition.

Pitt is suitably heroic as the everyman who must put to use all his skills in order to save the world and in turn his family but there is a serious lack of character development.

This may have something to do with the fact that Pitt’s character doesn’t actually exist in the original source material but that is no excuse considering the experience of the  screenwriters involved.

Mireille Enos, fantastic in the TV show The Killing, is left making teary phone calls to her husband in a largely thankless role that doesn’t make use of her proven acting ability.

The zombies themselves are a combination of CGI for the large en masse attacks and great make-up for the close-ups with actors.

The writers also come up with a clever plot device so that we get the traditional slow moving zombies along with the more recent fast moving variety.

The much reported troubled shoot, with screenwriters Drew Goddard and Damon Lindelof brought in for rewrites, becomes noticeable in the third act which seems rushed when compared with everything that precedes it.

This is a shame because the film, until that point, balances the fast paced frenetic scenes with some quieter moments quite well without ever letting the tension slip away.

Don’t go looking for any deep existential theories on the human condition with this film though.

Unlike some of the classic zombie movies of the genre such as George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead or even Edgar Wright’s horror/comedy Shaun of the Dead, there is no socio-political commentary here.

Although one could could interpret the scenes in Israel – where zombies swarm over a fictitious wall erected to stop the zombies – as a comment on the country’s real life wall built in the West Bank

Instead sit back and enjoy what is largely an entertaining and tense zombie film, that while not reinventing the genre, is a worthy addition to the field.

World War Z is in cinemas now.

A Good Day to Die Hard

Director: John Moore

Cast: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Mary Elzabeth Winstead, Yulia Snigir

Synopsis: John McClane is off to Moscow after tracking down his estranged son Jack, whom is facing a prison sentence due to various nefarious dealings.   John is outside the courthouse when a major escape is attempted.   Unfortunately, John intervenes and ruins Jack’s attempt to extricate another political prisoner, given that he is actually working for the CIA.

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Les Miserables

Director: Tom Hooper

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Aaron Tveit, Samantha Barks, Daniel Huttlestone

Synopsis: The film adaptation of the musical adaptation of the Victor Hugo novel.   Jean Valjean (Jackman) is a convict, having served 19 years incarceration after stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s child.   Unable to get ahead upon his release, he breaks parole to start a new life.   This stars Javert (Crowe), a man of the law, on his trail for a story spanning many years. new-les-miserables-poster-01   Continue reading

Wreck-It Ralph

Director: Rich Moore

Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Ed O’Neill

Synopsis: An animation not only made for kids, but also for kids of the 80’s.   Wreck-it Ralph is the bad guy in popular video game Fix-it Felix Jr.   He gets little respect, not even from the other characters in his own game.   So he infiltrates other games in the arcade seeking a medal to show that he can be the good guy too.

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Director: Peter Jackson

Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, Graham McTavish, Ken Stott, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Dean O’Gorman, Aidan Turner, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Adam Brown, Elijah Wood, Ian Holm, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, Cate Blanchett, Andy Serkis

Synopsis: Based on the book by J.R.R. Tolkien and prequel to The Lord of the Rings, this film is the first in a trilogy covering the exploits of a much younger Bilbo Baggins (Freeman).   Gandalf (McKellan) introduces Bilbo to a band of thirteen dwarfs, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Armitage).   They are on a quest to reclaim their home of Erebor, The Lonely Mountain, which is now the realm of dragon Smaug.

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The Dark Knight Rises – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Christopher Nolan

Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman

Synopsis: It almost seems ridiculous to write a synopsis for the most anticipated film of the blockbuster season, but here it goes.   The final chapter in Nolan’s Batman trilogy, the film is set eight years after the events of the Dark Knight.   Bruce Wayne became a recluse, and retired his masked alter ego.   Gotham City is in an era of peace, but all that is set to be ruined by Bane, a character ex-communicated from the League of Shadows.   All this, and many subplots, result in Batman being needed once again.

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Underworld: Awakening (2012)

Director: Måns Mårlind & Björn Stein

Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Michael Ealy, Stephen Rea, Theo James and India Eisley.

Genre: Action/Fantasy/Horror

Australian Release Date: January 26th, 2012

Australian Rating: MA15+

 

Score: 4/5

 

Underworld: Awakening is the fourth movie in the Underworld series and is set 12 years after the second film. In this time, not only are the Vampires fighting the Lycans, but they are both also fighting the humans, who have discovered their existence and have since that discovery conducted a number of purges against both groups.

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Journey 2: The Mysterious Island 3D (2012)

 Director: Brad Peyton

Cast: Josh Hutcherson, Dwayne Johnson, Michael Cain, Vanessa Hudgens, Luis Guzman and Kristin Davis.

Genre: Adventure/Family

Australian Release Date: January 19th, 2012

Australian Rating: PG

 

Score: 3.5/5

 

Journey 2 follows Sean Anderson [Josh Hutcherson], the young boy in the previous movie: Journey to the Centre of The Earth, as he follows “Vernian” clues left by his grandfather [Michael Cain]. It is loosely based on the book Journey to the Mysterious Island, written by Jules Verne. But that is these movies’ best feature in my opinion. The story is not the same, so it can’t be put down as a poor adaptation of the story in the book. Instead, it is set in modern times, and just has those places of wonder as real existent places. The premise is that “Vernians” (people who believe that Verne did in fact have the adventures he wrote about) search for these places, and when they find them, they use the books as a guide.

I wouldn’t exactly call it a great movie, but it was fun and entertaining. Who doesn’t enjoy adventure in wondrous places, following clues, and references to childhood favourite books? Even if you haven’t read any of the books referenced in the movie, most references are pretty obvious, e.g. “… the treasure from Treasure Island…” You would think that that level of blatancy would be annoying and patronising, but it works surprisingly well in the context. You must also consider that it is a family movie, and kids of these days aren’t as quick on the uptake as we were at that age. Haha, let’s just put it down to: you can’t get the story wrong since it is its own story, as long as the world is portrayed correctly, there is nothing to get “wrong”.

Characterisation and growth wasn’t too bad. Average for what you would expect from a movie in this genre. The only issue I had was with the overly slapstick (i.e. annoying) character of Gabato [Luis Guzman], the helicopter pilot, but once again, it is a family movie and the comedy kids understand best is slapstick, physical and emotional. But he was good for the role. Michael Cain is a favourite actor of mine, and I feel that he, Dwayne Johnson and Josh Hutcherson did a fine job in their parts. Vanessa Hudgens I wasn’t too caught up with. She seemed a little put on in some scenes, and that’s what an actor tries to avoid.

Needless to say, in a movie such as this, much CGI was had. Things like the giant lizard and bees looked good, but far from real, yet the tiny elephant that Hank [Dwayne Johnson] picks up was done pretty well. It’s usually quite difficult to have a character interact with a CGI object/being, but the movements and pressure from his hands, plus the strain in his muscles from the weight of picking it up, all fit together quite nicely. Overall it was all done so colourfully, dynamically and full of detail, from the lizard’s scales, to the birds’ feathers, to the bees’ fuzz. This was also the first 3D movie I watched in 3D and didn’t have a migraine afterwards. You could tell the moments when the 3D was meant to be a highlight, but they never impress me. I still prefer my movies to be in 2D screening. Besides, TVs can now do the level of 3D that these movies use, with regular TV viewing.

Overall: enjoyable movie. Nothing great. Nothing spectacular. Just light-hearted fun.

SchmandaRose