Film after film this summer is offering us a supposedly new twist on an old theme. Star Trek Into Darkness provided us with a reimagining of the characters of the Starship Enterprise, Man of Steel did the same for Superman, and
tried to give the audience a new way of looking at vampires. Byzantium
And so, inevitably, we come to zombies. The story is familiar, people are infected by.....,well by something, which turns them within ten seconds into a rabid, ultra-violent biting machine. They then infect others, and the plague spreads rapidly.
There are some impressive set pieces in the movie. The shots of the wave after wave of zombie-ness assaulting cities, buildings, people, vehicles, as if they have become a murderous mass rather that a collection of individuals, are terrifying and impactful.
The scene where Brad has to do something drastic to save an Israeli soldier from turning Zombie is stomach-churning and compelling.
And yet, the constant zombie attacks quickly become boring. Moreover, there is absolutely no character development here, we know almost nothing about what kind of people we are watching on screen. Even Brad is a mystery. All subtlety is washed away in this constant stream of scenes where characters are running away from zombies, fighting zombies, being eaten by zombies, escaping zombies.
Brad saves the day in the end, of course, more or less, but in a way that is totally unconvincing. We are asked to accept a range of assumptions and poorly explained solutions that assume that the viewer isn't going to think too much about Brad's magical discovery of how to defeat the zombie hoards.
What's more, we've seen this before, just like all of the other films this summer. We've seen 28 Days Later, and 28 Weeks Later, and The Living Dead and In the Flesh and Boy Eats Girl and I am Legend, and we've laughed at Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland. It's been done, it's been done, and it's been done again.
And even by the end there is still no explanation of what is causing the zombies to turn, is it a virus, is it supernatural? Why are they impervious to bullets to the torso? Nothing is never explained adequately.
Despite the unconvincing elements, there are things to enjoy about the film. It is well paced, and the scenes depicting besieged cities from the air do communicate well the sheer catastrophe that has befallen the planet.
Yet, in the end it leaves you crying out for just one original idea, just one real innovation, just one new way of looking at these tired old genres. And this film didn't provide any of this, it is more film-making by numbers, incorporating elements you have seen a hundred times before. Has "ORIGINALITY" become a dirty word in