Blood Quantum – 2019
Summary: This amazing story is told in two large parts: before the discovery of immunity and what happens after. The native Canadian people (the Mi’gmaq) introduce their lives as an infection blazes through the other populations around them. Once they put into effect the natural immunity they seem to hold, the Mi’gmaq may be the saviors of the modern world… if they can reduce the resources used, shore up their borders, and keep the rabble out. But all the survivors seem to be centering on their one lone and isolated community for salvation and rescue. It’s only human to take advantage of the situation, right?
Recommendation: As a cultural critique that explores racism, colonialism, and the very real threat of extinction that all Native Americans have endured, it also entertains with comic book format animation and some great (if violent) action. I was delighted to discover this work amid my Covid-caused shutdown/vacation of TV and DVD binging. It just existing creates the hope for more culturally widespread works and indigenous peoples’ stories.
Overlord – 2018
Summary: American rookie goes to war, finds a pretty French girl, her occupied French town, and discovers Nazi secrets more terrible than their reputation would already support. Do they ‘do the job’ of eliminating a radio in a bell tower or do they pursue a new goal: win by any means? Not everyone is going to make it back home, but the secret underground lab must be destroyed.
Recommendation: I called this collection ‘modern zombie movies’ and I mean that as this story, while taking place in WWII Europe, is fraught with special effects and technological tweaks that only this decade could supply. There is so much to watch and appreciate despite the unrealistic historical inaccuracies they offer. You can see the changes taking place within the characters as their situations get worse and worse, their ability to make decisions challenged by what is moral and what is safe. I found myself cheering at points (in public) and I wasn’t the only one! I’m looking forward to seeing Overlord again soon.
Train to Busan – 2016
Summary: While accompanying his daughter on an errand, distant dad discovers his protective instincts as all heck busts loose outside their train… and then ON their train! News coverage is spotty, communications are unreliable, and the mystery of why this happened can be solved after these characters survive escaping the train station. But where is safe?
Recommendation: I found this entry because of my random Covid-shutdown searching for entertainment. It blew me away. I am terribly impressed with South Korea’s quality of production in both monster movies (Host – 2006) and social commentary (Parasite – 2019). Now I have a zombie movie from South Korea to compare. And it has a sequel! Look for Peninsula – 2020. Totally separate story and action based in the same world.
World War Z – 2013
Summary: Traditional zombies lurch and stumble in a plodding pace. Heh – these aren’t them. Jerry’s superfast Zekes are nimble, desperate, and very motivated. Inspired by the book but not at all the same story, the movie involves fast transformations, panic, running, investigating, and plenty of explosions. As a series of concepts involving social and medical realism, it’s terrifying. The scenes of travel to different affected areas helps bring forward that vastness of a worldwide pandemic to the watcher’s mind.
Recommendation: Why do I like this version of a zombie outbreak story so much? Part of it is the intelligence of the characters presented – no one is making stupid, embarrassing mistakes here to cause others death or danger. Now, there are plot holes and ridiculous moments, no doubt, but it remains a better told story than most. Especially as you have several family members to follow in their experiences before the possibility of reunion.
Carriers – 2009
Summary: The spread of a lethal infection has turned the world upside down. Survivors do anything they can to protect themselves, find food and supplies, avoid hazards, and keep moving until they can find the perfect stopping point. The party we follow has established rules for their tiny society. When someone breaks the rules? That’s when you get hurt. Or dead.
Recommendation: There are three outstanding performances by Chris Pine, Piper Perabo, and Christopher Meloni. Other actors are decent enough, but these each tore at my heartstrings (Chris talking about his character’s parents, Piper making the ethical and kind decision, Christopher and his portrayal of a father who knows it’s just a matter of time). It’s more of a character study in survivor behavior than a disaster flick. Carefully paced, it does not run and lurch from special effect to explosion like some other movies.