World War Z may be almost nothing like the best-selling novel that shares its name, but it still gives us a smart, horrifying, and probably pretty realistic look at what might happen if the zombie apocalypse actually came to pass.
Who’s in it? Brad Pitt (Gerry Lane), Fana Mokoena (Thierry), Mirielle Enos (Karen Lane), James Badge Dale (Captain Speke), Daniella Kertesz (Segen)
What’s it about? The zombie apocalypse. All of a sudden an undead outbreak hits — almost everywhere around the world, all at once. Former UN employee Gerry Lane and his family are right in the middle of the mayhem as it reaches Philadelphia, and will only be whisked away from the city by his former co-workers if he agrees to help them figure out what in the hell is going on and how to stop it. It’s never clear exactly WHAT Gerry did in his old gig, but what is certain is that he’s used to dealing with all sorts of whacked-out, dangerous situations, and the military thinks they need him. Now he has no choice but to agree to a whirlwind trip around the globe to track the virus and piece together clues to ensure humankind’s survival.
What’s good? First off let me say that for once, the 3D is worth it. There’s only one “A ZOMBIE IS LUNGING AT ME!” part (and it rocks), so most of the time the technology is used in a more sophisticated way that draws you in and makes everything seem that much more real. What’s more, I didn’t have my usual headache by the end. Huzzah!
Secondly I’ll say that I read (and reviewed) the book by Max Brooks upon which this movie is supposedly based, and — as I figured — director Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball, Quantum of Solace) and writers Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard and Damon Lindelof completely changed it. The novel was told from several different viewpoints of people around the world looking back on the zombie war, and now they’ve got Gerry (who’s not even in the book) as a main character tying it all together, plus it’s set in the present day. What I liked about the novel was its focus on politics, governments, and global relations. I remember thinking, “Yep, this is exactly what would happen.” The movie isn’t positioned like that at all, but it’s still entirely effective in what I consider to be a realistic portrayal of how different societies around the world might grapple with such a situation, and how utter chaos would erupt — destroying normal chains of command and leaving the heavy lifting to people who can actually think during an emergency.
On that note, the several wide-shot scenes of various full-city panics are breathtaking. Ish is going DOWN, and you know it would go down just like what you’re seeing on the screen. We watch zombie chaos from afar and wince at it up close, and sure, the entire plot is about how to deal with a virus that’s turning everyone into rabid, fast-as-hell, group-thinking zombies, but what’s funny is that I don’t really consider this a “zombie movie.” Just like I don’t consider The Walking Dead to be about zombies. Both are about normal people trying to make it out of or turn around what appears to be an unsurvivable situation.
So the action’s great and it’s shot really cool and there’s even a little humor thrown in here and there … and then there’s Brad Pitt. He’s excellent as the reluctant but level-headed hero. And while throwing a family for his character into the mix initially made me worry that his storyline would become the generic schmoopy “He’s just gotta get back to his wife and kids!” type of thing, it doesn’t. I mean, he DOES gotta get back to his wife and kids, but he knows that would be kind of pointless if they’re all going to turn into zombies anyway. So he does not lose focus on answering this question: How can we fight this thing?
What could’ve been better? After starting off with a bang and maintaining the action and tension for nearly two hours, World War Z‘s final moments are underwhelming. It just kinda ends and you’re like, “Oh, it’s over. Hmm.” It’s not a bad ending, just an anticlimactic one that seems a bit of a letdown after such a wild and enjoyable ride.
The bottom line: I have an extreme fear of zombies and can assure you that World War Z is not your typical zombies eating braiiiiins movie. It is not a horror movie, it’s a smart action-thriller on a global stage, and my bet is that you’re going to like it as much as I did.
Once you’ve seen it, let me know your thoughts below!
Zombie movies and games at Redbox: