When the Zombie Apocalypse quickly overruns the world, Brad Pitt risks it all in search of the truth.
“World War Z” is a zombie movie light on zombie action, with some events that will require more than your usual suspension of disbelief. However, given its troubled production and lackluster promotional campaign, it certainly wound up more enjoyable than I expected going in.
Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his wife (Mireille Enos) are stuck in traffic with their two daughters when they realize that something extraordinary is happening. People are running for their lives all around them, and motorists are acting irrationally. They barely manage to escape the city with their lives, as swarms of angry, ravenous zombies overwhelm the streets.
This is a fast spreading zombie epidemic. If bitten, a victim may turn in less than 20 seconds. With that kind of rapid contagion, it’s nearly impossible to contain it. In fact, the world is quickly overrun. From first news to near hopelessly lost happens in mere days.
Thankfully for the Lanes, Gerry used to be a UN Investigator with a history of traveling to the most difficult assignments on Earth. Using his contacts, Lane is able to get his family airlifted out of immediate danger to an aircraft carrier that’s part of a flotilla of ships carrying survivors and military personnel. Only, there’s a catch. If Lane wants his family to be able to stay, he has to agree to accompany a virologist to South Korea in search of the origin of the disease.
Lane reluctantly agrees and begins a quest around the zombie infected world in search of answers and any hope of a possible cure.
“World War Z” has some interesting moments of looking at the Zombie Apocalypse from a macro level – think “Contagion”, with Zombies. However, the film chooses to focus instead on a singular hero who braves dangerous places in order to try to find a cure. What this leaves us with is Pitt following thin strands of coincidentally placed leads from place to place around the globe. At each stop, he’ll face a different zombie related threat, and experience first hand that nowhere is safe. It’s a focus that I’m not certain that I’d have chosen in adapting the book, seeing as Max Brooks’ novel was distinctly high level military recounting, and in my opinion would have made a much more interesting film.
The actual zombie scenes are occasionally intense, but also occasionally silly. In the infamous scene from the trailer, zombies stockpile themselves in order to get over a high wall, and easily overturn buses with their momentum. Yet, when need arises, humans can outrun them. The zombie attacks are also sanitized for the sake of a PG-13 rating. You won’t find any zombies feasting on intestines, Romero style, here. As a fan of the genre, I have to confess to being disappointed.
Finally, the much talked about “Third Act” that needed to be completely rewritten and reshot (with the help of “LOST” and “Prometheus”‘ Damon Lidelof) is… alright. There manages to be a decent level of zombie tension. The resolution of Pitt’s character’s journey will be accepted by some and derided by others, but the overall open-ended nature of the film’s actual end will leave many disappointed, I’m sure.
“World War Z” wound up a more decent watch than I expected, but in fairness I did expect to see a flaming wreck based on the production woes this film encountered. As it turned out, it wasn’t a terrible film, but it certainly didn’t wind up capitalizing on the potential of the source material, either.