My little rule of reading the book before I see the movie seems to have flown out the window. Seeing that I read almost slower than I did when I had two kids under the age of 2. So to heck with it. My entire family really wanted to see this movie, so we grabbed the opportunity when a rainstorm moved in this past weekend at the beach.
And you know, I've been appreciating the merits of Brad Pitt and his acting and screen presence. We don't need to discuss his taste in women.
Here is what is going on. The world as it stands now is sliding off into the abyss. Disease, famine, lawlessness. The final straw is an aggressive international outbreak of "rabies". Ex-UN investigator Gerry Lane (Pitt) is sitting in Philly traffic with his family when he witnesses a sudden, terrifying eruption of a zombie attack, where the infected move at an alarming rate and bite anyone they can. The transformation from human to twitching, bug-eyed killing machine takes all of 10 seconds. Gerry and his family run for their lives, and are soon whisked away by a UN helicopter because they need him back to fix shit.
This all happens in the first 15 minutes or so of the film. BOOM. You are in it. Zero to sixty in the action category, and there is very little build up and no time to get bored.
So Gerry is enlisted to get to the source of this virus, and figure out how the human race is going survive this apocalyptic situation. Millions are being infected by the hour, and mankind is going down. He first travels to South Korea so investigate patient zero, then heads off to Israel where they anticipated such a development (which is curious...) and have built a huge wall to protect themselves.
Uh, no big spoiler here because it is in the trailer...the wall doesn't work. The infected crawl over each other like adrenaline-crazed ants. Like a zombie tsunami. They are unstoppable. Gerry encounters more zombies mid-air, which is claustrophobic and surreal and scary, crashes and ends up at a research facility where all apocalyptic movies must eventually arrive. Tension, risk-taking and zombie avoidance ensues. But Gerry is awesome, super smart, brave and strong. If anybody can save us, he can.
Here is what I loved about this movie. They don't screw around. Just like the spread of the infection, you almost don't have time to react to the plot and the sudden destruction of EVERYTHING. And these awful beasts don't stumble around with their mouths hanging open, looking for brains to eat. They are superhuman FAST, feral, bite and move on. The swarming river of zombies is horrifying. It reminded me of a tornado, a mudslide, or a tsunami - you just aren't going to stop the force of it.
The character of Gerry, played by Pitt, was a perfect hero. He was sporting his long hair and some stubble, he was badass but preferred to stay with his family, he was willing to make sacrifices for the greater good, and he was coming from the science and military perspective instead of the Everyman. I could find no fault at all in his performance.
My only irritation was that while the ending was left fairly open (which is cool in my book), there were aspects of that last half hour that were a little too convenient. Small quibble, really, for a couple hours of great entertainment.
They certainly made great efforts to keep this a PG-13 rating. Absolutely no sex, very little language (With masses of zombies chasing and trying to bite you? Really?), and little blood despite lots of shooting. The real issue here for smaller kids is just the psychological tension and visual horror throughout. My son, the master connoisseur of zombie-slaying and zombie films in general, would have preferred a bit more outrageous blood splatter when taking out these creatures, aka 28 Days Later, George Romero flicks or Walking Dead. His opinion is if you are doing zombies, you should go for it. It didn't bother me quite as much as it did him. Just to put it into perspective for those of you that scare easy, we had our friends' 9 year old grandson with us and he wasn't the least bit disturbed. He loved it.
4 out of 5 stars