Jon Sharpe

In light of recent world happenings, I have found myself with an insurmountable wall of free time within the confines of my own house. It’s not like I was planning on doing anything in public anyway, but the fact that I don’t even have the option has left me with an overwhelming sense of boredom and cabin fever that barely manages to distract me from the ever-looming sense of dread breathing down the neck of the planet.

In order to alleviate said boredom, I’ve been thinking back to certain movies I’ve seen in the past, whether it be one of the rare ones I saw in theaters or ones I watched with family or friends. Because of the impossibility to avoid thoughts of disease, I remembered a film from around a decade ago, one that attempted to tackle the zombie genre with all the grace and finesse of a blue whale with rigor mortis.

“World War Z.”

This movie had an incredibly troubled production, leading to the script of the film getting re-written twice and there being multiple re-shoots. This probably led to the incredible inconsistency in the tone between the different parts of the movie. Despite all of its issues it went on to be the highest grossing zombie movie ever made, in no small part due to the easy to market title and the genius marketing strategy of “show zombies climbing each other and blow the ‘Inception’ horn a few times.”

There were quite a few things about this movie that I absolutely loved. For one, I think the focus on the grand scale is an interesting take on the genre that you rarely see. Almost every zombie piece of media is about small groups of survivors and their attempts to survive, but you almost never get to see the international perspective of how governments around the world are attempting to combat the issue.

Seeing how America flees to our naval carriers, or how Israel walls themselves in, or how the more sparsely populated countries almost seem unaffected, where the residents have just locked themselves in their homes. They even mention that North Korea does exactly what I would expect them to: commit a horrible atrocity that solves the problem in the short term but will cause many problems later by pulling the teeth out of every single citizen.

Another aspect that I enjoyed was the slightly more realistic depiction of not the zombies, but of the apocalypse they cause. Seeing the mass looting of stores, the complete anarchy on the streets where most people have given up their civility, all of it culminates in the chaotic mess that I would expect from such a horrific scenario. It is filmed in such a way to constantly disorient the viewer by cutting often and changing angles wildly. I like this style in these scenarios because it really helps the viewer understand the panic and confusion felt by the characters.

But while the panic may be realistic, the zombies are some of the silliest things I’ve seen. It takes exactly 12 seconds from the time you are bitten for you to become a zombie. How a microscopic virus is able to get around the body in such a small amount of time, let alone take over all of the body functions of the host, I have no clue.

There is also their big weakness, in that they somehow cannot see people who are terminally ill. We see multiple times that cancer patients can stand in the middle of the road, and the hoard of zombies will just part around them. Firstly, how can they tell someone is terminally ill? How far along would you need to be until they just stop seeing you? Why don’t they infect the terminally ill? They tested killing zombies using deadly viruses, and it didn’t work because it had no bodily functions, so wouldn’t that mean that terminally ill people would be just as viable hosts since they will be killing the host anyway?

And another thing, the terminally ill aren’t even invisible to the zombies; they are completely avoided. They will part around a single kid with cancer yet walk straight into cars or walls. They try not to touch them at all, only doing so once at the very end when one of them bumps Brad Pitt’s shoulder.

The worst part of this movie though is the action sequences. Any time that the main characters are on the run from zombies, they bring back the confusing camera work, but all it does is just show how little of the action feels real. Many movies attempt to supplement bad action by cutting or moving the camera during impacts to create a sense of power, but most of the time it is used wrong and just shows how boring that action really is.

I feel like if this movie focused more on flushing out the grand scale and focusing less on Brad Pitt running from and shooting zombies, it could have been a much better film telling a much more unique story. Show us how these different countries are dealing with the zombies instead of just mentioning it in passing. Show all of the failed attempts at containment and all of the many different strategies governments have been using to prevent the spread.

I think one part that wore on me throughout the film was the constant introduction of new characters only for them to die after less than 10 minutes of screen time. Literally everyone who helps Pitt throughout this film ends up sacrificing themselves before we can get emotionally attached to them in any way. The only exceptions are the soldier from Israel who gets her hand chopped off and the scientists from the last act of the film.

I think this whole film has a problem with short story-element lifespan. If anything is introduced, it is either resolved or failed within such a short time that it is tough to keep any connecting string throughout the film. The only things that are important for more than 20 minutes are the 12 second rule and the fact that zombies have been ignoring the sick.

Even the locations change way too often, with the film dragging us from Philadelphia to an aircraft carrier to a plane to Korea to Israel to another plane to whales and then, finally, a last scene in Nova Scotia. While the variety of location was nice, it meant everything felt incredibly segmented and somewhat hard to follow.

I rate movies from 10 to -10, with negative being so bad its good. I give “World War Z” a 5, because it has plenty of great elements that would be good on their own, but you wouldn’t eat a slice of bread if the whole loaf was moldy. Watch it if you’re a big fan of action or zombie movies, but I wouldn’t say it’s a movie that you should go out of your way to watch.

This week I want to talk about my surprise at Netflix for not attempting to get some good PR during this whole shelter in place. Many other companies are using this as an opportunity to get in some PR by offering their services at a discount or even free in some cases for a limited time. Netflix, one of many people’s biggest source of entertainment, could very easily spend a little extra cash to expand their catalog of movies and shows for the coming weeks or months in order to gain some brownie points with the public. The only thing they’ve done so far is lower the video quality in Europe because their servers cannot handle the increased strain. I say they should use this opportunity to expand rapidly and keep a step ahead of their growing competitors.

Jon Sharpe is a senior in supply chain management with a concentration in business analytics. He can be reached at jsharp37@vols.utk.edu. Love BMS? Be sure to check out the podcast on Soundcloud and Jon's blog at betweentheframes.home.blog.

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

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