World War Z: there's only so much stupid I can take.

Major spoilers!  You've been warned...

So Karen dragged me to this monstrosity (pardon the pun) tonight, and while it was definitely two hours of suspenseful action, the movie frustrated me to no end.

World War Z
You can't actually pile up human bodies like that, you know.

First, the zombie plague itself. I'm willing to accept zombies as a supernatural phenomenon (ala Dawn of the Dead) or as a medical phenomenon (ala 28 Days Later) but not both.  The movie heavily implied that zombie-ism was a disease communicated by the bite of the infected. Fine. But to have the infection cause a person to turn into something that looked like a two-week-old dessicated corpse in the course of ten seconds - well, that's a little odd. All infections, even in the blood, take much longer than that to be fatal.

Then there's the way the zombies move. They're fast and strong, but the movie states that they have no circulatory system and they don't appear to eat. That's just not possible.  There's a reason all animals have an aerobic metabolism. You need to oxidize fuel quickly to move quickly. The zombies appear to want to bite, but not eat, which makes no sense either - they're going to need something to fuel their evidently limitless energy.

And their behavior is clearly predatory, but not in a way that makes any sense. We find out (major plot twist!) that they don't like sick humans - they just ignore them. Which makes sense (maybe) if they were trying to pick out healthy individuals to convert. But since the infection kills instantly and the zombies, once turned, are nearly immune to massive physical damage (up to and including breaking their limbs and spines) what does it matter if somebody had a bad flu before they were turned?

Then there's the whole "how do you kill a zombie?" thing. They go down to bullets - at least at first - but we're told that body shots just slow them down and it takes a head shot to "kill" them. That seems to apply through most of the movie, but we also see a corpse that has been burned to ash except for the fingers which are still moving.  Forget for a moment that the tendons and muscles necessary to move those fingers have been completely carbonized - if taking out the head "kills" zombies (and again, it does in many other scenes) then what's going on there?

The last bit of bogus biology is that the zombies don't appear to "wear out" - despite having no circulatory system (and therefore no functioning immune system) and despite neither eating nor drinking, they appear to be able to exist indefinitely in, for example, scorching desert conditions.  In reality, any zombie subject to the laws of physics and biology is going to have a rather short shelf life.

Finally, let's get back to the whole turning thing. You're telling me that an infection that can be transmitted by a superficial bite can, in the span of ten seconds, convert a human body into something that looks like it's spent days decomposing and change its metabolic system so that it can move quickly without oxygen and give it a completely new set of instincts that makes it a predator of humans that can navigate by sound but also somehow magically know when a person is sick or healthy and give it the instinct only to bite, in order to spread the disease, but not to eat or damage its victim in any other way?

I'm willing to suspend disbelief, but there's only so far. World War Z entertained me, yes, but not nearly as much as it pissed me off.

13 thoughts on “World War Z: there's only so much stupid I can take.”

  1. As a fairly avid fan of zombies, I have to say I was pretty disappointed by the book. Considering the book was a mish-mosh of mediocre to poor stories, I am rather unsurprised to hear the movie was crap. I guess I'll just wait until the movie comes out on DVD and we get it at the library ... that way if it really is that bad I can stop watching it and not feel like I've wasted any money.

    1. The movie was suspenseful and entertaining. It was just also frustrating and hard to suspend disbelief at times. Was it worth $11? If you're in the mood for two hours of action movie and there's nothing better playing, sure.

  2. The whole time I watched this movie I kept asking myself "why wouldn't the powers that be simply put devices that emit loud sounds out in the middle of nowhere and set them to go off at regular intervals ... thus keeping the zombies in a perpetual loop?" The sounds could be louder than any other sounds ... this would keep the zombies occupied while the soldiers fueled up the plane, Pitt got to the serum, etc. etc... the movie insulted my intelligence.

    1. I've never read the book, but from listening to reviews by people who have, it seems that a lot of the "zombie science" in the movie ran exactly counter to what was written (e.g. slow zombies, long incubation time, etc.) It's like they threw together whatever ideas would result in the best action scenes, not even thinking about how they related to the source material - or for that matter, to each other.

      1. Thankyou! the book was well done, and obviously had thought pout into the disese. the disease took about a week to kill the victim, and they did actually eat the humans, not just bite. the movie took everything that made the book good, destroyed it, put in as much bloody, explosion filled action they could, and then gave it the same title.

  3. I think I can answer some of your questions, but not all of them. I am an avid zombie fan too and both The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z were by far the most entertaining zombie books I read.
    1st- Why not both? I believe that if you want to make a zombie appocalipse more cohesive, you have to accept a medical mambo jambo as a starter and a pinch of supernatural to glue everything together.

    2nd- The whole thing of 'looking' like a rotten corpse in a few minutes is bullshit movie effect, to imerse the public in the thing : "Oh shit, this is serious". In fact ( I shouldn't say fact when talking about zombies, should I?) they will look like normal people walking around, just... dead! Grey skin and stuff.

    3rd- This point goes in the directly opposite way of what the book says, zombies don't move fast, they are quite dumb acctualy. The thing is the virus attack the brain and the rest of the body is just an accessory to it, so the part of the brain that controls movement is supressed and not used, this plus the rigor mortis and no circulation make them very slow.

    4th- Now, here is the tricky part that I can't quite explain: metabolism. I don't know where they take their energy from, they need ATP from somewhere so they can perform basic movement. They don't have to breath nor digest or circulate blood or keep temperature or keep any organ other then the brain working, so this cuts the energy demand a lot, but if it walks, it consumes energy. It is said that a zombie will eat untill its belly explode or the food is pushed through the anus, but won't digest it. I don't know why and it doesn't makes sense to me. What DO MAKES SENSE, is the predatory behavior of biting and attacking, cause, it is a behavior induced by the virus so it can spread through body fluid. It has its supernatural touch, as if the virus knows what would be the best way to spread, using the animal basic instinct of hunting and eating of the host, against the other potencial hosts. Psychologically it is effective cause the victim won't turn against it's own kind so fast and so easily.

    5th- The hole immortal not rotting thing is explained in the books by saying that a zombie is like a pile of radioactive crap. The virus turns the host flesh into a highly toxical mess that nothing, nor a animal or a bacteria or a fungus, will it them. The basic proces of rotting is microorganisms that eat the corpse in a molecular level, as these micros won't eat a infected body, it will never rot, ever. It might dry in a desert and look like a mummy, it might freeze at low temperatures but it will always be a zombie, unless you kill it again.

    I highly suggest you read the books, because it gives you another perspective on the zombie appocalipse stuff and how it is very plausible and not that hard to happen. You will see that the movie changed a lot of things from the book ( I really HATE when directors do that, if you want to change it make a new story!), like, the turning process. It will first kill you from a extreme infection, you will get a insane fever and your organs will stop working, then you die, then you rise. It miGive me a feedback if you read this far! Bye!ght take a few hours or a day.
    It has it's plotholes, but the books are really superior than the movie.

    1. I've definitely heard that the original book is quite good, and even without being a huge fan of the zombie genre, I think I'll probably end up reading it eventually. The problem is getting through my existing backlog...

  4. AT THE BEGENNING OF THE FILM ,we can see a policeman and a TRUCK (camion) who' s have an accident :but it' s impossible :no place for a TRUCK :it's silly and crasy :ridiculous !

  5. I wanted to enjoy the film like I would a 80s Swartzeneggar sci fi horror flick, like Predator.

    I like fast Zombies (those who say fast zombies miss the point of the slow relentless zombie apocalypse looming over the horizon simply miss the counterpoint of sudden onset blitzkrieg zomboid Armageddon.) but it was kind of disappointing actually. I felt if they were going to go that route they should've went whole hog sci fi instead of stuck in the middle of sci fi & supernatural.

    How about an alien interstellar microorganism (remember that red rain from some years back?) . Andromeda strain Z anybody?

    How about nanotech machines instead of viruses. Machines that hijack the nervous system of the dead. Alter the body chemistry, providing targeting, fuel, and mobility. Destroy microorganisms to prevent rot. (Yes I know if they can do all that then why not kill directly. Because then we wouldn't have a movie, just a pile of grey goo!)

    Maybe the terminally ill avoidance is just a bug or a glitch in the programming, like the way you can use piled up dead bodies at a gateway in some MMOGs to block sieges to a castle. (Go Leeroy Jenkins! Go! As soon as he's through the door add his body to the pile.)

    Anyway. I did enjoy some of the action and raw visceral feel of the zombies' onslaught. I also liked some of the film's overall style. (The ending scene with Pitt drinking a soda was gold.) Glad I didn't pay to see it at the movies though. Would've been pissed.

  6. The zombies were not really a problem. Apparently another virus traveled around the planet impairing people's capacity for rational thought. Also inconveniently occurred during a worldwide shortage of gloves.

  7. The problem I had was the same one with "StarShip Troopers" and a host of other such nonsense.

    OK. The zombies can only hurt you if they bite you, right? Now consider the scene where the Israelis are inside their walls and the zombies swarm outside. Last I looked, the State of Israel had *4,000* tanks and armored personnel carriers. No way you can get bitten inside one of those puppies, right?

    So why weren't the Israelis continually driving armored brigades around their walls? Just crushing zombies under the tracks of a 65-ton Merkava III tank will take them out - you don't even need to shoot. And why not fly drones continuaally? "Zombies attempting swarm attack at Sector 3.7.86; batteries 5, 7 and 9 fire cluster munitions. Oh, and bring in the alert flight of F-15E Strike Eagles with Snake and Nape. We'll finish them off with mortar fire."

    The whole thing was just ludicrous.

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