World War Z

What Ever Happened to Newt?


How could there be less narrative sense than zero, he asked, having seen the answer oh so many times
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Reported on 23rd of June, 2013

(Editor’s note: apologies for this site being dark for two weeks; it was supposed to be three. I’m working on the twelve, count-’em twelve piece very belated 2012 wrap up. Six down, six to go. I was just going to wait, but then saw World War Z, then saw wanker David Denby’s I-Just-Saw-Genre-Movie-Good-For-Me review, and this poured out of me in forty-five minutes. In any case, you probably know what I’m going to say. About all of them.)

World War Z

21 June 2013 @ The Brighton Odeon


-$0.50 or, if one must be quotidian, and one must... 
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

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Probably wouldn’t have bothered with this dead horse, being that it’s bland, diffuse and utterly lacking in tension, completely indistinguishable from any other film this or any other year, until I read Mr. David Denby’s moronic review, written by someone who has 1) apparently and admittedly not seen a horror movie, and 2) is just realizing the point of the zombie zeitgeist, forty years after the fact, as if it’s some great fucking insight. You’re allowed to talk about movies if you seen more than one type, instead getting to pick and choose from your overpraised New Yorker fiefdom. Stupidity always makes me angry; stupidity praising stupidity in the guise of intelligence is going to get me on my ass.

To write. That’s where I do it.

To reiterate, what’s the point? If there’s is a saminess to these movies, there’s a saminess to the critique. Should it surprise us that Mr. Damon Lindelof appears as a representative of the thousands of writers, a man who is either a moron, or self-hating genius, being that he wants every character in all his films to act as if doing the opposite of what’s intelligent is what will get them out of danger? There’s an almost post-modern exhaustion of why bother here, for me and them. For them, learned just enough about writing that people need to be put in jeopardy and then taken out, and enough now to know that audiences finally just don’t care any more how that’s done. For me, rage. Which is as old as it gets.

This is after, and I'm not kidding, we were told, shown, told twice, shown again, then told again, and I'm not kidding I said again because I'm not exaggerating, that these things are drawn to sound.
There was only one way to test if this was true. By screaming at the movie screen.

And I could talk about how boring it is, and it certainly is, but World War Z has some really nice bits, like the scientist talking about nature as a serial killer, and a fun grenade on a plane gag. In fact, the entire review could just be the newly invented, and very difficult to maintain ‘the take’, where I list all the good, great, idiotic and boring things in order, and make a tally. We know the story behind the making of the thing: it’s the combination of 4 good scripts and 32 terrible ones, and it shows. There’s a movie here crying to get out, and thousands of opinions and ideas and pedanticisms making sure it can’t.

Which produces exactly the movie we expect: a motiveless pastiche, where Mr. Pitt wanders the globe in search of wandering the globe. It is exactly the same film, and feeling, as 2012, as our hero arrives, learns something, things go to shit, and he goes somewhere else. There was much talk about how they had to cut some Budapest sequence for sake of narrative cohesion, and this utterly baffled me. The only pleasure to be had in this film is the various CGI hoards being all hoardy. How could there be less narrative sense than zero, he asked having seen the answer oh so many times.

I say that, but as much pleasure that could be had is muted in the shocking incompetence of Mr. Marc I’m-Afraid-If-I-Show-Anything-The-Audience-Will-Find-Out-I-Can’t-Direct-For-Shit Forster (of Quantum of Solace infamy) to choose even the most basic edit or composition. Let’s, he seems to say, shoot it in a cave in the rain with flashbulbs. Then, said Mr. Damon Lindelof (I’m sorry, but I know this was him), have the wife call him in the middle of an escape. Really. This is after, and I’m not kidding, we were told, shown, told twice, shown again, then told again, and I’m not kidding I said again because I’m not exaggerating, that these things are drawn to sound.

There was only one way to test if this was true. By screaming at the movie screen.

Cineworld Brighton has actually eliminated the ticket takers entirely forcing one to either buy at the machine or at the popcorn counter. This delaying tactic works well with showing a record crushing 30 minutes of commercials and trailers. This plan will turn out as well as all the plans for the world will.

Cineworld Brighton has actually eliminated the ticket takers entirely forcing one to either buy at the machine or at the popcorn counter. This delaying tactic works well with showing a record crushing 30 minutes of commercials and trailers. This plan will turn out as well as all the plans for the world will.

And it’s this phone call that’s finally going to be the thing that gets my on my ass, because this may be the most egregious example of ‘Stop saving the world, the girl complains’. No one is saying I like women, but I hate misogyny even more, largely because it’s utter death in narrative to have any character reduced to doing nothing.

As Mr. Pitt is given the non-choice of helping stop the zombie epidemic (thus saving his family) and them not getting kicked off the boat (thus saving his family), his wife (you may remember her whining from Gangster Squad!) Ms. Mireille Enos argues that he should stay. I agreed with her: I wanted them to die at this point, but I still hadn’t seen the Budapest sequence, so he had to…godammit, where’s the Budapest sequence?

And of course The Killing (US) is unwatchable, a sequence of surprise clunkers from a single episode of season fourteen Law & Order stretched out to two seasons, but at least she plays a fucking character. Depressingly reduced to whiner and phone caller in the middle of zombie chasing, this is not helped by the inclusion of children as fodder, who, unlike children in real situations and interesting films, aren’t so much panickers as they are resourceful. Yes, real life is complicated, but kids being smart in movies is fun. Kids doing stupid stuff to create the quotation marks around what passes for tension is not.

In this cry, I hear the echoes of the bloated producers making this film, whose spouses complain that they’re not spending enough time with their families. The easy joke is that they’re not saving the world, they’re making movies, but I suspect it’s a bit of a straw man, or maybe wicker, that they just don’t want to. Look these guys are not poor. They could retire tomorrow. They don’t work in the coal mines, where I suspect the spouses probably don’t complain, being that they’re lives actually do depend on the income (and, in a twist that has something to do with the fact that this is the real world, it’s only a man about half the time). Instead, I think they like being away from their families. Apparently all they do is whine. Maybe if I made a movie about whining, it would appease them. And I’d get to spend even more time away from them.

And this, finally, will lead to the understanding of sacrifice. This is, after all, a film called World War Z, based, and I haven’t read the book because I haven’t read fiction in four years, on Studs Terkel’s The Good War, which is about some war that happened where people made hard choices. Some of them even were occasionally hurt or something. The idea of that someone Has To Leave The Family For One Second is annoying since family is everything, unless you’re trying to escape them by working in the movie business of course.

When this happens in a story about the end of the world, it’s odd, yes, and it’s super boring, but it’s just a representation of a culture that doesn’t remember what sacrifice or even choice is like. If we lived in a world with a growing population dependent on a finite resource whose economy was built entirely on the accumulation of debt, we’d be in real trouble.

But don’t worry about that. It’ll probably be zombies.

The Take

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Profits!
I said I’d do it: the good bits
Mr. Pitt standing on the edge of a tall building, counting to ten and waiting to turn. Nice.
$2.00
Grenade on a plane full of zombies.
$2.00
Cop who turns out to be a looter.
$2.00
The stuff at the WHO was fairly contained. I’m sure Mr. Forster was bummed he couldn’t get a spinning overhead shakeshot.
$2.00
The Raveonettes Lust Lust Lust is a solid LP. It’s what I listened for the aforementioned 30 minutes. It also adds four bucks, so I can include even more stuff I hated.
$4.00
Total Profits
$12.00
Losses!
From the 32 terrible scripts
Ten times the budget, and it’s not one-tenth the opener from Dawn (2004).
$2.00
Did they really just have a car not starting?
$2.00
‘Better the devil you know…then the one you don’t.’ Why, I haven’t heard that line finished in fifty years.
$2.00
Using his phone to reassure his wife instead, I don’t know, there was some kind of threat to the survival of mankind of something. Something to do with that.
$2.00
Special Mention. After having made a plan to use deadly viruses to walk past the zombies, and talked about it endlessly, upon the plan’s success, Mr. Peter Capaldi doesn’t say, ‘Fuckity ‘bye’ or ‘You are a F, star, star, cunt.’ but ‘He walked right past them.’
$1.00
He then says it again.
$3.50
Total Losses
$12.50

-$0.50

Thoughts on World War Z

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  1. Julia says:

    I’m so glad I didn’t have wait to read this…..
    I agree, but how could I not.
    J

    1. Scott Scott says:

      I love it when you agree! Hooray!

      It’s almost as if I shouldn’t even bother with Star Trek now.

      Almost.

  2. Julia says:

    There are boobies in Star Trek .
    Sooooooo that’s something ……

    1. Scott Scott says:

      Two boobies do not a movie make.

      Who am I kidding. Of course they do.

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