Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Welcome to the First Annual World O' Crap Horrible Halloween Movie Bash, chosen by you, the World O' Crap reader. The totals are in, and this year's top vote getters are World War Z (2013) and The Lost Continent (1968). Both are sad botches worthy of inaugurating this feature, so it came down to a question of accessibility. And since I already had it saved to my DVR, World War Z is the winner (and I, needless to say, am the loser). However, I've found a source for Lost Continent, so look for that to appear in a future Monday Movie column.

Now I invite you to sit back, grab some candy (the good stuff, not that dross you've been giving the snot-dripping urchins on your doorstep) and learn how the filmmakers turned an unfilmable book into an unwatchable movie.

World War Z
Director: Marc Forster
Writers: Matthew Michael Carnahan and Drew Goddard & Damon Lindelof (screenplay), Matthew Michael Carnahan and J. Michael Straczinski (screen story). Based on the novel by Max Brooks

It’s morning in Anytown, U.S.A. In a charming clapboard house, Brad Pitt and his wife are asleep, which means that two giggling children are about to come running in and jump on the bed, because that’s what families do in movies, as opposed to real life, where I would have gotten in so much trouble for waking up my old man on his day off. Unless it was Christmas morning, which is like The Purge for the specific crime of parent-waking.

Cut to the kitchen. Brad has long blonde locks and a beard, because someone apparently told him this movie is about Thor. Instead, it’s about a guy who used to work for the UN in some vague capacity, and now makes pancakes for his daughters all day, wielding a spatula like it’s the mighty Mjolnir.

Cut to Philadelphia, where Brad and his family sit in traffic while we learn that Brad’s wife used to be British, but has lost her accent, and there are rabies in Taiwan. Turns out there’s also zombies in Philadelphia – quite a lot of them, actually – but no one thinks to mention it until suddenly they’re swarming all over the traffic jam like it’s Black Friday at Wal-Mart. And not only are these undead fast – they can outrun a Winnebago, which suggests the zombie apocalypse is going to hit Texas and South Dakota particularly hard – but so is the virus which creates them; Brad watches one discount hipster get chomped and go from Old Navy model to full-blown revenant in about ten seconds, which strikes me as premature incubation. I like a little tension in my zombie movies -- the pathos and suspense of waiting for a bitten friend to turn -- but here the transformations are over quicker than an Amish wedding night.

Brad jacks an old RV – personally, I would have stolen something faster than a zombie, but it does come with its own hunting rifle – and immediately pulls over because his daughter is having an asthma attack. So fine, let’s all stop the Apocalypse because Brianna can’t find her inhaler. Just then Jack’s former boss calls; he's fleeing the UN building in a helicopter because New York is in flames and overrun by the undead. On the bright side, he got his whole staff killed, so there’s got a job opening in Ordinary Premium Accounting.

Brad and his family loot a Shop-Rite in Newark, where Brad shoots an irritated consumer near a Prestone point-of-purchase display, then they invite themselves to squat with a nice Latino family. Brad fiddles with their radio and gets the Emergency Broadcast System, and even though, for once, it’s not a test, he is still not instructed where to tune in his local area for news and official information. Instead, he makes shitty armor out of magazines, and duct tapes a steak knife to his rifle, then leads his family into a stairwell where they hunker down to wait. After awhile, Daughter Number Two says, “I’m scared” (in a tone of voice that suggests she really meant “I’m bored, but was trying to be polite), but Brad tells her a helicopter is coming for them, and to “keep your eyes on Mommy and Daddy.” Really? I’d tell the kid to keep an eye out for zombies, but I’m not the guy with the bayonet from Chicago Cutlery.

The chopper flies Brad and family to the United Nations Command Ship, the U.S.S. Exposition, where his Boss explains that the president is dead, there are gun battles in the streets of Washington, D.C., and Ted Cruz’s erection has lasted longer than four hours. Big cities are the hardest hit, because “airlines are the perfect delivery system,” which seems odd, since the disease has a ten second incubation period, so I’m pretty sure the passengers would start leaping around and devouring each other well short of their destination, and making it extremely difficult to maneuver the drinks cart through the aisle.

Anyway, young Dr. Fastback wants to go South Korea to see if he can find a vaccine or something, and the military blackmails Brad into going along. In the plane, Fastback explains his theory that “Mother Nature is a serial killer,” and “like all serial killers she can’t help the urge to want to get caught,” so she cuts out letters from magazines and mails cryptic messages to the newspaper.

When they get to South Korea they’re met by a Welcome Wagon of extremely athletic dead people, and Dr. Fastback immediately slips on the wet tarmac, shoots himself, and dies. (I saw it, it was his own fault, he can’t pin this one on Mother Nature.)

So Brad’s business trip was a complete waste of time. Fortunately, he meets David Morse, who just happens to be in midst of a nice juicy cameo role as a disgraced CIA agent with a lot of convenient information, and he tells Brad that Israel made its borders zombie-proof, so Brad takes off for Jerusalem (but first a bunch of soldiers have to refuel his plane while getting attacked by the undead, as Brad rides a squeaky bicycle in inclement weather like Miss Gulch from The Wizard of Oz).

During the flight Brad calls his wife to chat about the kids, but then someone sets off an atomic bomb right under the plane and the call drops. But it was such a boring conversation that neither one bothers to call back.

Israel has built a 100-foot high wall all around the country (meanwhile, John McCain stands on the U.S. southern border shouting, “Finish the dang fence!”, but nobody pays any attention to him because they’ve all turned into cross-training carrion). The people inside, Jews and Arabs alike, all so filled with a love that they gather together and sing a happy, Kumbaya-like song, which drives the zombies into a fever of organization, and they build a human pyramid from a million undead cheerleaders, and spill over the wall.  So the lesson here is: hootenannies kill.

Brad immediately runs for his plane like a little wuss. His Israeli bodyguard gets bitten, so he lops her hand off to stop the infection, or to prove he saw Evil Dead II. Unfortunately, his pilot is an even bigger wuss, and takes off before Brad can even get on the plane, even though he’s a Premiere Club member and entitled to early boarding.

Brad thumbs a ride with a taxiing airliner, dragging along the woman he mutilated, and as they fly to Cardiff, presumably to see if Torchwood can help, he figures out the ANSWER! Unfortunately, somebody brought a zombie as carry-on and the passengers start eating each other rather than pay eleven dollars for one of those crappy box lunches they give you. Brad throws a grenade into Coach, blowing a hole in the fuselage and scattering zombies across the idyllic Welsh countryside. The aircraft plows into a forest and completely breaks apart, but Brad survives, although he’s got a huge aluminum splinter stuck through his body.

Despite being speared like a cocktail weenie, Brad and his amputee victim walk to the nearest World Health Organization facility. But back aboard the good ship Exposition, Brad has been written off as MIA and his wife and children evicted, their bunks turned over to a family whose father isn’t stupid enough to chuck grenades around an airliner.

Brad wakes up at the WHO, and finds himself staring into the face of Doctor Who! (The cranky, 12th one.) Unfortunately, the Doctor’s not that helpful, but he is still cranky, especially after Brad tells him about his plan to infect everybody with a terminal illness so the zombies won’t find them appetizing.

Unfortunately, the pathogens they need are stored in the Plot Point Memorial Wing, which is occupied by zombies, so the next twenty minutes consist mostly of people sneaking and running and sliding around hospital corridors like a particularly wacky episode of Scrubs.

Anyway, Brad injects himself with a fatal disease, and what do you know, his stupid plan works. So he takes a boat to go pick up his family, but suddenly announces in voice over: “It’s not over,” which strikes me as needlessly cruel, like taunting a garden slug after you’ve already poured salt on it.

To sum up: it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature, mainly because she’s a serial killer, so don’t pretend your smooth, creamery margarine is butter, or she’ll give you zombies and Brad Pitt will give you swine flu.

The end.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

How wonderfully execrable.

Carl said...

I'll bet you didn't know they magically changed planes in mid-flight. Constantly.

"The airplane that Gerry Lane travels in repeatedly switches between an Antonov An-12 and a Lockheed C-130 Hercules."

"The escape from Israel is on board an A310. However the interior of the cabin, as shown in the movie, corresponds to a B777 and not an A310."

Maybe they'll get it right in the sequel?

Dr.BDH said...

A very accurate summation, Scott. One quibble: I believe John McCain played most of the undead, along with Dick Cheney.

Weird Dave said...

But the ads for it made it look so good...

Doc Logan said...

I wear my heart on my sleeve. My nom de Crap comes from George A. Romero's "Day of the Dead". I like the Romero films (the law of diminishing returns kicks in hard around the 5th film), I like the first "Return of the Living Dead", Lucio Fulci's "Zombie", "Shaun of the Dead" and "Dead Alive". But pretty much every other zombie movie is crap. And don't mention "28 Days Later". Fine film, but like "World War Z", there are no zombies in it.

I disagree that the book is unfilmable. It's unfilmable as a single film, but as a planned trilogy it could have been amazing. Provided, of course, they remembered to put zombies in it.

grouchomarxist said...

"[c]ross-training carrion"

Effin' brilliant. And that goes for the entire review. The only good thing I can say about this movie is that instead of blowing 10 bucks to see it in the theater, I caught it on Netflix.

Chris Vosburg said...

Nice one, Scott, I laughed and laughed, especially at "over faster than an Amish wedding night," Ba Dump Bum.

In retrospect, it's always good to see David Morse pop up in a cameo, as he has done often since his St Elsewhere days, always turning in a very nice performance, and in this case, managing to make the movie stop sucking for a brief time.

Especially nice as a police detective in the House series for a handful of eps, one of the few who could match the not-so-good Doctor insult for insult.

Looking over his IMDB page, I'm inclined to have a look at Disturbia (2007), in which he plays a suspected serial-killer-next-door.

Anybody seen this one? Any good?

Scott said...

Chris, I haven't seen Disturbia, although I did enjoy his cameo in The Hurt Locker, playing a grizzled combat veteran who goes into a weird paroxysm of fanboy squeeing over the ridiculous number of IEDs Jeremy Renner's character has defused.

Li'l Innocent said...

I'm always kind of intrigued/sympathetic when a real waste-of-time movie gets made with a non-waste-of-time cast. Brad Pitt, David Morse, Peter Capaldi... what, you ask yourself, did the original script look like when it first flittered innocently across their agents' desks? Not like the final product, I bet.

Anonymous said...

ANNTI sez...

Scott, you are a far braver human than I... THAT much exposure to that Missouri white-trash moron can NOT be good for ANYONE'S health.

And thank fuck for back-in-the-GOOD-Doctor-days references and Bruce Campbell's jaw. I fucking LOATHE the midget Sicilian-pretending-to-be-Scot "new" Doctor, who somehow aged 1100+ years in the last transformation. Not that his horrid, craggy little talentless face doesn't SHOW IT, but I bet that there was never any exposition to "justify" it... Personally, for killing-off Matty Smith, I would love to post a reward for Stephen Moffat's head on a pike. THREE FUCKING YEARS?!?!??! Fuck that shit. I bet that THIS midget douchebag gets EIGHT! Even my 2nd-favorite Dr. & beloved Scot, David, got, what? SEVEN years?!??!!?


But then, neither is the sick masochism that causes you to inflict such mentally/intellectually/emotionally-scarring HORRORS upon yourself... I worry about you, Scott --- to inflict THIS clusterfuck upon yourself, that's going WAY above & beyond the call of duty, son. I'm really getting concerned, after you went all the way through THIS clusterfuck...