Well, two weeks and two massive blockbusters. You would think it was summer in America or something 😉 (BTW, why is that blockbuster season is in summer? Surely people go to the movies more in winter than summer? Cos, you know, they can’t go to the beach…? But hey, who am I to question the logic of the movie industry). So, these two films are quite different but both extremely good reasons to head for the cinema. So here’s what you need to know.
World War Z is a zombie movie that has had a very troubled and expensive road to the screen. But thanks to star and producer – some dude named Brad Pitt – it has finally made it. It is very loosely based on a book, and tells the tale of a zombie apocolypse. What – you have seen that before you say? Well, yes, but this film takes quite a different approach. It isn’t all about the blood and gore like the Walking Dead (in fact, if you go looking for blood and gore you will be sorely disappointed) and it isn’t played for laughs like Zombieland. In fact, if I had to compare it to any recent film it would probably be Steven Soderberg’s Contagion, which isn’t about zombies at all. This film is about how the zombie infestation started, with Pitt playing a UN worker who gets called in to try and track down Patient Zero.
But it isn’t all science the sciency science. Zombies are pretty scary things and the film does a great job at making you jump quite a few times without grossing you out too much. In fact, the zombies up close are both scary but also fascinating to look at. There are some amazing action set peices (zombies on a plane, anyone?) but it also isn’t afraid to take its foot of the break and allow characters to develop a little, and tension to build. There is lots of globe trotting (Philadephia, an air craft carrier somewhere in the Pacific, Korea, Israel, Wales…) but you never feel like it is just a new location for some interesting scenery. They all have a specific purpose.
Pitt is great here, combining some action chops with some tender family moments. And, as a fan of the UN, the idea of someone like him working for them is pretty awesome 😉 A couple of criticisms – the last third of the movie felt very different to the rest, which was odd, and the 3D seemed entirely unnecessary. But it didn’t really detract from what was, at the end of the day, a slightly more cerebral and very entertaining popcorn flick. 3 and a half multicoloured M&Ms from me.
Next up was much hyped and eagerly anticipated Man of Steel – the Superman reboot from the director of Sucker Punch and 300, Zach Snyder. Key though is the producer credit for Christopher Nolan – he who breathed much needed life (and darkness) back into Batman. And he succeeds here too. I wasn’t overly excited about the film as I wasn’t much of a Superman fan – not when it came to movies anyway. I will admit to being addicted to The Adventures of Lois and Clark when I was at high school (though even then the fact they didn’t recognise who he was just because he put on a suit and glasses was totally implausible – how could you not recognise the totally hot Dean Cain??). But, I was pleasantly surprised by this reboot.
The cast is a stellar one – Russell Crowe plays biodad, Kevin Costner is earth Dad, Diane Lane is earth Mum and Amy Adams is Lois Lane. And big ups to whoever decided to make Lois a bit more kick arse than I have seen her before. Here she is a reporter who has been embedded with soldiers in war zones, so it seems more fitting that she would be up to the challenge of dating a super hero who isn’t entirely earthly. And then there is Superman himself – played by British actor Henry Cavill. Let’s just be clear – he is a very very good looking man and Channing Tatum should be watching his People Mazagine Sexiest Man back very carefully. But he is also a decent actor and anchors the film ably here. Big ups also to big bad Michael Shannon – playing General Zod. He isn’t a quippy, mind games kind of villain (like Loki in Avengers) but brings carnage to the extreme. And you have to respect that in a villain.
The film has a massive amount of carnage. Probably too much to be honest. They destroy buildings at what felt like, in the last sequence at least, the rate of one a minute. No expense was shared on the CGI on that front. It looked amazing, but after a few it was kind of like ‘blah, I have seen that before, move on please’. But the big action set peices mostly worked well and Synder’s visual flair was well showcased here. But what I enjoyed most about the film was that it managed to pack a hefty emotional punch, even without a lot of set up to get to know characters. Whether it was their ’emoting’ or other subtle heart-string pulling or my own state of mind on the night, I felt like I had gone on a real journey. This is definitely at the darker end of the superhero spectrum – it isn’t a laugh fest like The Avengers which I will always prefer, but it is still a great watch. Fans of Batman will be hard pressed not to enjoy this. And girls in general will probably enjoy it too 😉 4 solid M&Ms from me.