World War Z
Directed by: Marc Forster
Written by: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard and Damon Lindelof
Starring Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos,Daniela Kertesz, David Morse and Fana Mokoena
Before you read this review, please be aware that the screening that I attending was in 3D but it was out of focus, therefore I won’t be commenting on the quality of the 3D.
Let’s face it, by now most of us are suffering from some major zombie fatigue. There’s been a glut of mostly forgettable zombie-themed movies over the last decade. Save for 28 Days Later and AMC’s cable drama The Walking Dead, very few deserve discussion. In order to distinguish itself from the rest of offerings, World War Z needs to bring something new to the table. Fortunately, the sheer epic scale of the movie sets it apart from many of its predecessors.
World War Z is based on the novel by Max Brooks. Many felt that the book would be impossible to adapt to the big screen due to its unique narrative structure. Writers Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard and Damon Lindelof were brought on board to work their magic. The result is a linear story that takes place in the days following a pandemic zombie outbreak.
The film wastes no time jumping right into the action. Gerry (Brad Pitt) his wife Karin (Mireille Enos) and their two children are driving through the city when all hell breaks loose. Car collisions, screaming people and careening law enforcers suddenly fill the streets and Gerry tries to ascertain exactly what is causing the commotion. After witnessing a man being attacked and bitten (and rapidly turning into a zombie) he wisely hightails out of the city. Since Gerry used to work for the United Nations, a former contact (Fana Mokoena) promises to whisk Gerry and his family to safety on a military ship. The catch? Gerry will have to resume his duties with the UN and help track down the origin of the outbreak. He reluctantly agrees after he realizes this might be the only way to keep his family safe.
What follows is a frantic international investigation that takes place in Israel, North Korea and other locales. The film follows the basic formula of Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion. The health officials and military try to stay one step in front of the zombie virus in hopes of developing a vaccine before the entire human race is eradicated.
The novelty of World War Z is in seeing the zombie genre brought to life by a big budget. The special effects are good. These zombies stagger around in their dormant state, but any sort of sound sends them scurrying toward the source. One of the best visuals of the film is watching the legions of zombies pile up on one another to climb over barriers. It’s effectively chilling. There’s very little gore in the film, but there are plenty of jump scares.
Pitt isn’t particularly charismatic in the film. Even before the chaos gets started, he looks haggard and dour, but he adds star power. Enos has a throwaway role. She mainly cries and is given little else to do in her quick appearances. The most interesting character is Segen (Daniella Kertesz), a member of the Israeli army who joins forces with Pitt after the two share some harrowing moments. She’s tiny and somewhat frail, but she kicks some ass when the need arises.
There were lots of concerns over this movie due to reshoots (the final act was completely redone), budget issues and a pushed back release date. The concerns are unwarranted. The third act fits into the story and the film looks slick. Nothing new to see here, but this is easily the most mainstream friendly zombie movie out there. It’s just edgy enough that it won’t alienate true fans of the genre. – Shannon