Going into World War Z I had very low expectations, mostly because of the stories we heard of troubles during production. I've seen almost every major end of the world or zombie movie and tv show in the modern era. I'm a fan of them because of the moral dilemmas they illustrate and the many questions and discussions they raise. I watch them despite the horror, not because of it.
End of the world movies challenge our thinking for how we would handle ourselves in the event that all the temporary things we hang our hopes on and all that we are accustomed to were gone in an instant. But couple that situation with a virus that causes Zombism, and we have one of the most difficult challenges we could ever fear to face. That is, the decision to fight against what was, only a few seconds earlier, a loved one, while dealing with the devastating emotions of having just lost them. When we watch such movies it causes us to think about how we would each balance the desire to maintain our morality while still surviving. It's Lord of the Flies if Piggy contracted a virus and start eating the other boys.
Zombie movies, due to the nature of the way the virus is spread, from bites, are traditionally horror movies. The writers and director of World War Z decided to take a risk, and go in a very different direction. This movie is noticeably, at least by the time its over and you have a moment to breath, more of a Hitchcock type horror. This is nothing like the Walking Dead. There are no beheadings, no splattered brains, no ravenous eating of humans. That is not to say, however, that this movie is anything but horrifying. Instead, the director did an excellent job of keeping us on the edge of our seats, fearing what would happen next, feeling for the situations the characters find themselves in, and routing for their success. Every time a thrilling sequence came to an end, you could hear the collective sighs of relief from the audience, and then realize no one in the theater had moved a muscle for some time. When the movie ended it received one of the strongest rounds of applause I've experienced in a while. It was entertaining and suspenseful.
How deeply a movie touches my soul can usually be determined by how long I stay through the credits and how long I'm silent when the movie ends. With World War Z, though it was a fantastically thrilling ride, there wasn't near as much to ponder when it was over as other end of the world movies. That's not a bad thing. Not every movie can do that. It might mean the movie won't repeat well or cause a cult following, but that doesn't take away from the enjoyment of experiencing it the first time.
The movie was said to have needed a complete re-filming of the ending. Having seen it, I now understand why. Without giving anything away, the situation of having the hero with a family (a very unusual circumstance for most male heroes in action movies), forced a different feel to the end. It painted them into a bit of a corner, but I'm not sure I would have changed that. Instead, it's simply a less formulaic zombie movie than most, and in a day in age when we are bombarded with these types of movies, it's a welcomed change.
The challenge will be on the financial side. Most potential movie goers will still see this as a zombie movie and avoid it if they aren't a fan of zombie horror. Zombie horror fans may be displeased because it lacks the Walking Dead like blood and gore and the accompanying emotional impact. The question is, will the word get out that non-zombie-lore lovers can enjoy this despite it technically being a 'zombie' movie?
I would recommend it to anyone, zombie lover or hater, if you enjoy suspenseful thrillers that keep you on the edge of your seat and put you through a whole lot of stress. It won't send you to the coffee shop until 3 in the morning to ponder deep thoughts about the end of the world, but it will take you on a wild ride that is well worth the price of full admission.