While all the pre-release publicity surrounding “World War Z” suggested that the film version of this much celebrated text had been defanged and depoliticized, as I previously reported in a post titled “Why We Shouldn’t Be Surprised that the Politics of ‘World War Z’ is Muddled,” the first reviews of the film are suggesting quite the opposite.
While Variety’s critic Scott Foundas tends to write from a slightly conservative perspective, he suggests the film owes “as much to scientific disaster
movies like “The China Syndrome” and “Contagion” as it does to undead
ur-texts like the collected works of George Romero.” Foundas even goes onto claim the film’s ideal audience “might be described as
comicbook fanboys who also listen to ‘Democracy Now,’” referring to the very liberal-minded news outlet.
“In what may be taken as an
affront by the America First crowd, the old U.S. of A. descends into
chaos pretty early on, while the two nations best equipped for the
coming onslaught turn out to be Israel and North Korea — the former by
building an enormous wall, the latter by extracting the teeth of its
entire population. No biting, no zombies, see?” continues Foundas.
Conservative commentators are also likely to make hay out of the narrative’s central role of the United Nations, in which Brad Pitt’s hero works. But as with all Hollywood movies, it’s not institutions that save the day, but rugged individuals who work outside of the system.
On the other side of the political spectrum, I expect lots of talk this weekend about the film’s central set-piece, which is set in Jerusalem. You can’t exactly take the political undercurrents out of that locale. Does Pitt save The Holy Land? Maybe not, but at least he escapes with a hot female Israeli soldier.