There’s a Difference Between Suspending Disbelief and Turning Off Your Brain

Posted: May 31, 2013 in Entertainment, Horror, Movies, Zombies

There was an amazingly well written book released some years ago now called WWZ. WWZ (World War Zombie) was written as the chronicles of a man looking back after a decade’s time  on the zombie war that almost wiped out mankind. It was amazingly intelligently written, it focused heavily on the human element, it played around with concepts of the cultures and politics around the world and how they would impact our ability to survive, and it of course had its fair share of zombie action moments.

There is a movie coming out this summer calling itself WWZ. About the only thing it appears to have in common with the book is the name. The movie itself may ultimately turn out to be good, but I’m not holding out much hope.

One of the things that makes me less than secure in the belief that the movie will be good has been the ridiculous CGI scenes displayed in the trailers and clips released so far. Zombies charging like rats at fixed structures and then building up into an ever shifting pile crashing against those structures before pushing zombies up and then off of the top of the pile with the type of laughably bad CGI physics that even good gaming companies try to avoid. When the action on the screen looks less realistically portrayed than your average PS3 cutscene; that might not be a great indicator of a quality movie experience to come. The other problem, of which the bad CGI scenes are likely a side effect of, is that so much of what I’ve seen so far screams that this is a movie asking you to turn off your brain and not think overly much about what you’re looking at.

Now, a lot of really good summer blockbusters are films that ask you to suspend your disbelief for a bit. Certainly more than a few lately have asked you to not only believe that a man can fly. but that a whole lot of men and women can fly while also displaying a wide assortment of other fantastical abilities. But the willing suspension of disbelief is not turning one’s brain off completely. WWZ is actually releasing teaser clips that scream out that you are not to think about what you’re looking at on the screen longer than it takes to jump at the “shock” scare that they throw at you.

This is a recently released teaser clip for WWZ. It’s a clip that, at just under one minute, we’ve actually seen a good bit of in the earlier trailers. It’s a scene that made me wince at the poorly contrived shock moment in the trailer. But released as a full clip designed to show off why you should be excited about the film? It ends up just making me doubt the film’s quality even more. 

We once again see Brad in his car with his family as a motorcycle cop knocks the mirror off of the car door as he goes speeding by. We see Brad decide that the best thing he can do is get out of the car and look around and we get a nice bird’s eye shot of the street in front of them so that we can see the massive parking lot that the city street has become as well as a low level shot showing us the same behind Brad’s car; every lane filled with unmoving cars for as far as the eye can see with Brad’s car more or less in the center of the street. Another motorcycle cop pulls up and yells at Brad to get back into his car. We then see what looks like either a small tanker truck or a large delivery truck speed past Brad’s car and slam into the cop; your sudden shock scare moment. 


Just a few seconds earlier, we see an entire city block of cars sitting bumper to bumper. There is no open lane of traffic for this truck to come flying through and, Hollywood film or not, the truck is neither making its way through that many cars to make its meeting with the motorcycle cop or doing so quickly and quietly enough that neither Brad or the motorcycle cop are going to be suddenly caught unawares by its presence. It’s a shock scare that barely works as it is and looks mindlessly stupid by the setup the film gives you to the shock scare. 

It was bad enough seeing it in the early trailer, but this is a promo clip. This clip is supposed to be about getting you excited by showing you what you have to look forward to when you slap down first the ever increasing sum of money to buy your ticket and then the money from the second mortgage you just took out in order to buy a small drink and a box of popcorn. This clip just says that they expect you to shut your brain off completely and not even consider basic common sense elements when looking at even the most mundane scares and action. Between this and the other clip that they just released where Brad has to decide whether or not to leave his family and undertake his new mission, a scene completely and utterly boring in its presentation of human drama, I think that they’ve successfully killed what little hope I had left that this will be anything but an instantly forgettable CGI fest and that the only thing it may successfully do by the end of its theatrical run will be to ensure that we don’t see an actual adaptation of WWZ come to any screen for a decade or more. 

  1. Eddy Movies says:

    That clip is horrendous. When Brad Pitt exits the car, you can clearly see the lane to the left of his vehicle is filled. When the cop pulls up and gets hit by the ambulance, however, the cars are gone and there’s enough space for the truck to drive through.

    That and the production’s troubled history has me in doubt about this one. Looks like a skip.

  2. Sean says:

    I try not to let either trailers or critics sway me on a movie, whether to see it or not. In this case, I may make an exception to the rule.

    • jjchandler says:

      I usually try that as well; especially with the absolutely god awful ad campaigns I’ve seen come out of Hollywood in the past. But this is just getting worse and worse looking with every peek of it that they offer us. Combine that with knowing the source material… Not looking good at this point.

  3. Ben Stewart says:

    This really should have been made as an anthology TV series or similar. It’s in no way suited to being a film, especially not a Brad Pitt-centric summer blockbuster.

  4. Sean says:

    I still have a shred of hope left. I’ve seen a bunch of films where, when you go to various websites a la’ IMDB and such, you get people asking about this or that scene from the trailer and it was different in the actual film. The traffic scene you mentioned with the vanishing other side may just be a case of this, where they took the time to render digital traffic for one portion but not the other.

    Probably not.

    I hope the screenplay keeps the oral history part, but in this, my hope is gone.

    • jjchandler says:

      They didn’t. I think Brooks tried to be optimistic early on, but from several interviews with him that I’ve seen they apparently made clear that they didn’t require or want any input from him. They decided to do their own thing and this is the result.

  5. Sean says:

    The IMDB reviews are interesting. Some good, some bad.

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