Victoria Jelinek

World War Z

World-War-Z-NewPosterAn unexpected outbreak of a zombie plague leaves the world in shreds. Former UN worker Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his family receive refuge on a governmental ship safely anchored at sea in exchange for Gerry traveling around the globe to find a cure.

Adapted from the grim book written by Max Brooks (son of Mel), we journey around the globe with Gerry, a family man who once ran operations for the UN in countries were most mortals wouldn’t survive a day. With governmental and military infrastructures in disarray, and entire countries experiencing radio silence, Gerry, alone, must trace the origin of the outbreak. Most apocalyptic blockbusters open by teasing the audience about what’s to come, but this one hits the ground running, with an entire city (Philadelphia) being overrun before you’ve settled comfortably in your seat. The opening scene – in which Director Marc Forster keeps the monsters practically unseen, creating an unnerving sense of the chaos — also sets the pace for the rest of the film, in which millions of people die, but scarcely a drop of blood is seen. Horror fans longing for large scale carnage will likely come away unsatisfied, but I appreciated the lack of gore. And the film is scary due to horrifying imagery, such as when the zombies go after prey, swarming like angry locust, screeching and chomping their teeth.

I watched this movie because I’d read about the development and production debacle involved in its making, and was curious to see how it ended up. Granted, it’s arguably bland, few of the characters are memorable, and the ending feels abrupt and flat-footed, but it’s also slick, taut, and holds together nicely. It’s certainly not the disaster many predicted it would be during its distressing birthing. In fact, despite costing an enormous amount of money for Paramount to make (a purported 230 million), it doubled this expenditure in worldwide box office sales alone…


Hostile Witness

By William Lashner

Hostile Witness book coverHard luck Philadelphia lawyer Victor Carl yearns for the opportunity to get rich, be respected in the legal community, and have hot women begging to date him. Then William Prescott III, upper-cruster from one of the city’s most distinguished firms, comes knocking at his door. Prescott wants Victor to represent a councilman’s aide who is, along with his boss, accused of extortion, arson, and murder. It’s a high-profile court case that promises everything Victor longs for, and all he has to do is turn up and do whatever Prescott tells him to. But Victor can’t be quiet when it’s evident someone is setting him and his client up to take a nasty fall. He may be desperate, but he’s no one’s patsy.

I read a Victor Carl short story by this author, which inspired me to buy a book about him ‘cause it was well-written and I like the hard-boiled detective fiction genre, with characters such as Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe. These guys were tough mavericks in violent, double-crossing milieus, who were unflinching in their determination to achieve justice.  This book doesn’t disappoint in terms of its main character, plot, and setting, but it is overly long and consequently repetitive, while Hammett and Chandler’s novels are concise and to the point – just like their (anti) heroes.