Sunday, June 30, 2013

World War Z Part 1: Why I Saw It

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The picture to the left is one of the official posters for the movie World War Z, which I saw this past week with my wonderful husband Chris.  The picture to the right is of the original book, by author Max Brooks.  When this movie was first announced, it caused quite the stir in the horror community.  There were some who thought it would be  a good movie.  The rest of us in the community were worried it wouldn't be a faithful adaptation. I think I was just pissed that Brad Pitt was pushing the project.  I didn't think he had the appropriate reverence to pull it off.  Those of us who feared, feared the bastardization and ruination of one of the most important pieces of zombie literature.  Not many zombie books make the New York Times Bestseller list, but Max Brooks' did, which means it crossed over got noticed.

I was hardcore against this movie.  If you don't believe me, just ask my husband, family, friends, and co-workers how bitterly and incessantly I bitched about it.  I nearly broke my soapbox from all the time I spent lamenting.  And then, I read a blog post that changed everything.  Author Timothy W. Long wrote a post titled, "World War Z - Everybody Just Calm The Fuck Down".  Long makes several very compelling arguments for watching the film, but below is the game-changer:

"This movie represents something that most zombie fans wouldn’t have though possible ten years ago. A huge summer action movie with zombies as the driving force, Massive military battles against hordes of Z’s, worldwide settings, and a huge Hollywood A-list actor to bring in the crowds.

So that’s why I’m seeing it. I want to watch a big budget Z movie. I can’t wait to see the world overrun by zombies while the military guns them down by the thousands, and make no mistake, the scale of this movie appears to be that large and I want it on the big screen. I want zombies so in my face I reach for a Remington Versa Max Tactical Zombie, 12 Gauge shotgun".

That got me thinking about the movies that he referenced in his post.  Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead (remake).  28 Days Later.  28 Weeks Later.  Shaun of the Dead.  Zombieland.  Long made another great point.  There aren't that many zombie blockbusters out there.  Why was I trying to boycott what could be the greatest zombie movie since 2009?  I realized that I had to do my part to support the genre.  If World War Z fails during the height of zombie popularity, that's pretty much it.  I will be relegated to showing my future children only a handful of films.

As for my thoughts on Brad Pitt, here's what Long has to say:

"Brad Pitt, you scoff? If you hate him I have two words for you: Inglorious Basterds, here’s three more: Fight Club, Seven. Here’s a number and a word: 12 Monkeys."  

Fair enough.  Fair enough.  Let me add my own:  Legends of the Fall.  I must confess, I am sick and tired of hearing all the tabloid press.  I miss Brad Pitt the actor.  His abilities have been overshadowed by the press-made drama.  It was time to bring back Brad Pitt the actor.

My husband and I made after work date plans to go see it.  What comes after, you can read about in World War Z Part 2:  Movie Review.

 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Who knew Armageddon could be such fun?!

rtefWhen I first laid eyes on Read the End First, I couldn't wait to read it.  (Seriously - look at that cover!)  I've been a long-time fan of Suzanne Robb's literary antics, and figured that anyone she teamed up with would be top-notch.  After my initial excitement, I started wondering what kinds of stories would be in the anthology.  I couldn't figure out how anyone could come up with 24 separate Apocalypses.  As far as I was concerned, there were limited options:  a) zombies b) disease c) asteroid(s?) d) Biblical.  That's four.  Possibly eight if you can find some variation on the aforementioned methods, but definitely not the 24 (one for each hour) that the book's description boasted.  Nor could I figure out 24 interesting locations from which to destroy the Earth.  Little did I know that the anthology would not only surpass my expectations, but would start an interest in Apocalyptic stories of all sorts!

From introductions by Graham Masterton and Joe McKinney until the very last page, Read the End First is a labor of love.  Each story is set at a different time, and in a different place on our Earth.  Suzanne Robb and Adrian Chamberlain went to great lengths to make sure that each story was completely different, so as to make each story a unique experience for the reader.  Without getting into too much detail and ruining 24 surprises, you will find the religious Apocalypses and the zombies and the diseases.  But you'll also find man-made disasters, natural disasters, demons, and creatures who defy classification.  There are stories in which the end comes swiftly and stories in which the end comes slowly.  Always the end comes inexorably, for both the hero and the anti-hero.

Even with a veritable host of Apocalyptic horrors, Read the End First truly shines in its portrayal of humanity.  While each author gleefully destroys the Earth in his or her own chosen fashion, they also give us a glimpse into the human soul.  The reader can only watch helplessly as the characters struggle to deal with the end of all that is familiar to them - and to us.  In the characters we find caricatures of our friends, lovers, neighbors, co-workers, and ourselves.  Who will you recognize?  The reader follows each character into their unique demise, seeing it as though through their own eyes.  There are characters who make their last peace, lament missed opportunities, and try to squeeze a lifetime of experiences and emotions into a finite moment.  Over and over again the reader is reminded that for all that is important in life, we are specks of dust in an immense and incomprehensible universe.  It's humbling and thought-provoking and sometimes too much to take in one sitting.

On a personal note, I was very much excited to see the city of Rochester, NY utterly destroyed.  You see, Rochester is my father's hometown, and very much like Buffalo, the city of my birth.  Don't get me wrong, Rochester is a gorgeous city, boasting old architecture, and the birthplace of Kodak.  However, I rarely get the excitement of being familiar on a personal basis with many cities that always seem to be slated for mention.  I have never visited Los Angeles, or the West Coast for that matter, and have only spotty memories of Pennsylvania.  While it's true I've been to Maine, Stephen King has created his own towns and cities there, and populated them with horrors of his own devising.  However, it's still fun to see a town you know destroyed by a very talented writer.

The long and short of the matter is that there is no reason you can come up with that will be sufficient to explain why you didn't buy Read the End First.  It's a unique anthology filled with talented writers, and spearheaded by an amazing author team.  I loved every single story in the anthology, which is a rarity for me.  Usually when reading anthologies, I find there is a story or two that just doesn't fit in.  Not so with Read the End First - a book filled with Apocalyptic wonder from cover to cover.