United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to destroy humanity itself.
It must be really great to be Brad Pitt. He’s married to a beautiful woman (Angelina Jolie), He’s a good actor who’s been recognized for his work with Oscar nominations for two films (“12 Monkeys” & “The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button”) and he’s adored by millions of women. And, much to my surprise, he’s the guy you wanna be around when the zombie apocalypse arrives! Too bad it arrives in a film like director Marc Forster’s “WORLD WAR Z” though.
Based on the wildly popular book written by Max Brooks, “WORLD WAR Z” tells the story of former United Nations Investigator Gerry Lane (Pitt) who is now a family man and lives only to take care of his family, wife Karin (Mireille Enos) & daughters Constance (Sterling Jerins) and Rachel (Abigail Hargrove). They all live what seems to be a very comfortable life when all of a sudden they find themselves running for their lives as all of civilization is under attack by what appears to be a horde of really pissed off zombies.
But are they really zombies? Not in the Romero sense they aren’t. They don’t eat anyone here but they do enjoy taking a good bite or two out of their victims and once bitten you become one of them in seconds. The zombies here are extremely reminiscent of the ones featured in “28 Days Later” (2002) where the zombies ran after their victims only to spread the “Rage Virus” they were infected with, spreading the disease if you will. Here the creatures are ugly, fast and extremely dangerous. The source of the infection is never discovered in the film although it’s postulated that it is biological in nature. Gerry gets in contact with one of his former colleagues, Thierry Umutoni (Fana Mokoena) who assures his family’s safety if Gerry comes back and helps to discover where the infection originated and more importantly, a way to stop it. Although Gerry initially refuses the request he eventually relents for his family and once they’re rescued (from atop a tenement roof) they’re whisked away to a naval destroyer and given temporary shelter while Gerry goes off globe trotting around the world, following clues in the hopes of discovering patient zero and a possible cure.
The film ping pongs between Korea, Israel and other countries as Lane continues his search for a clue to end the madness. It also ping pongs between sense & nonsense as established rules are tossed away and then brought back as befits the script. It’s nigh impossible to discuss any of these issues without spoiling the film for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet but I will say that the scenes that are featured in all of the trailers for this film are the scenes that feature the most egregious plot contrivances. The CGI zombies that you see running all over the place in the trailers aren’t really too bad to look at though. The production was wise enough to limit the scenes featuring the CGI to only a few key scenes in which the mob mentality of the zombies is on full display and they are eerily effective and creepy. Unfortunately the camerawork in these scenes is extremely messy and feels hurried. The camera is positioned behind the creatures as they’re swarming and it’s extremely jerky, bouncing up and down frantically as if it’s attached to a rope that’s tied to one of the zombies as it’s chasing someone.
There isn’t much here to talk about acting wise. Pitt basically clinches his jaw and squints his eyes so tightly I don’t understand how he could see anything at all, let alone run from a horde of zombies. Since the cast is facing the end of civilization as they know it they all speak their lines with extreme seriousness. Their voices are grim and monotone which leads to a lot of undecipherable line readings but that doesn’t really matter since the script doesn’t give anyone especially important to say except “RUN”!
What really irked me about “WORLD WAR Z” was the way that it flat out refused to let Pitt’s character be deterred by anything in his quest to save the earth. He emerges unscathed from multiple attacks from literally thousands of zombies, finds the one car to make a getaway with when no one else can, he successfully blows a hole in the side of an airplane (In flight!) to suck out all of the zombies who are running roughshod through the first class section and then is one of two survivors when the plane goes down in flames (He was wearing his seatbelt) and when he makes a big discovery towards the end of the film he not only attempts to sacrifice himself in order to save everyone else but he becomes Moses all of a sudden (In a hilarious scene during which he literally walks through a horde of zombies as they split into two sections to allow him to pass through…unharmed). It’s really good to be Brad Pitt I guess….
The zombie that Pitt finds himself facing in the end might just be the least threatening zombie in a film ever. It hisses and clicks it’s teeth at him but it’s hardly intimidating and it looks like Pitt could’ve taken him out with little to no worry at all but the scene is played out as if Pitt is helpless against the creature to create some semblance of tension that never materialized. I’d also like to note that a lot of this film looks and sounds like a video game called “THE LAST OF US” that was just released last Friday for the Playstaion 3. The zombies look and act exactly the same, the rules used in dealing with them are exactly the same & they even make the same sounds. And it’s not just something that I noticed for a quick second before it passed, the similarities are constant and it can’t just be a coincidence.
“WORLD WAR Z” isn’t a boring film, not by a longshot. It kicks into high gear after 5 minutes and rarely lets up afterwards but it’s PG-13 rating keeps it from being especially bloody or violent, I’ve never seen a film featuring zombies with as little blood on display as this one. As a matter of fact, the bloodiest scene is one during which Pitt is injured after the plane crash but there are no zombies involved in it and it doesn’t slow Brad down at all. The dude is flat out invincible.
The film doesn’t really end either. As Pitt gravely narrates “This isn’t over” we’re promised a sequel to this nonsensical miasma of bloodless foolishness but I really hope that doesn’t come to pass. “WORLD WAR Z” was an extremely troubled production with a rumored budget of over $170 million dollars but it doesn’t look like it cost anywhere near that. As I watched I could tell that there were some really harsh edits made here and a lot of them just introduced characters in one scene only to forget them immediately afterwards or just abruptly end scenes with neither rhyme nor reason. Apparently money can’t get you a decent film editor but the breakneck speed of it all does a good job of masking a lot of these editing boo boo’s.
Does any of this sound like I hated this film? I suppose it might but while I certainly can’t recommend you see this with a good conscience I can say that I was moderately entertained despite my distaste for what I was witnessing. Like I said, it ain’t boring and the sheer ferociousness of the zombies make for some pretty nifty jump scares sprinkled about. If you’re a Brad Pitt fan then you’re gonna see this no matter what I write. Same goes for all of you zombie fans, nothing I say will change your mind. The crowd I saw it with seemed to enjoy it enough and they even applauded a few times although I have no idea what they found worthy of any hand clapping. It’s a bad film made palatable by some silly scenes and a few dumb looking zombies but I’ve seen dozens of films that managed to accomplish the same thing and they certainly didn’t have the budget this film had.
“WORLD WAR Z” – 1.5 out of 5 shrouds.
World War Z (2013)