World War Z

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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.

B-

62 thoughts on “World War Z

  1. I was more satisfied than I expected to be. I would have scored it up a little bit. I had not kept up with what was going on with the filming because I felt ambivalent about what I had heard about it and didn’t know if I would bother to see it. I’m glad I was a captive audience, so to speak, as the person I carpool with went straight to the theater after work. The fact that the third act had to be scrapped and redone makes a lot of sense. It makes a few of the weak points in the film make more sense. Not having read the book, I’m kind of glad that they didn’t make it a ‘follow the military’ movie. Because I was able to enjoy it as a mystery, where you follow the clues. While I wish the movie told us where the virus came from and what it was, because I like to know those things, there was a feeling that the viewer only knew as much as the lead character did and no more. Sometimes, that does not work in a movie. They pulled it off well. While I was satisfied with the resolution, in the sense that they found a way to hid themselves and a way to fight back so they could destroy masses of zombies until they finally take back the world, one town at a time, I did feel as if the was something very weak about the ending. It definitely lacked any oomph. I probably would have giving it a solid B or B+, but that could be influenced by the fact I was expecting worse and it was much better than I expected.

    • I think a military conflict movie set in the Zombie Apocalypse would have been interesting stuff. Not just troops fighting zombies, we get that all the time. But the strategizing, etc. I din’t get much out of it as a “mystery”, although, you’re right, that is basically what they were doing with it. The ending lacking “Oomph” as you say is one of the things that drove it down, for me. :(

      Glad you enjoyed it though, it definitely could have turned out a lot worse! 8O

  2. I’ve been hearing generally good things in my circles, but it really has yet to win me over in either the posters or the trailers. I may check it out eventually.

  3. It was such a disappointment for me. It is nothing more than a PG-13 action flick dressed up as a zombie film. I liked the zombies and a few scenes but overall it is very poor.

  4. Nice review. I have to admit I am curious to see it. I thought it would be an absolute train wreck, but it’s getting somewhat decent reviews. I’ll try to catch in the next few days.

  5. Well, I skimmed through the synopsis part of it because I’m sure its going to be different from the book. However, I think you confirm some of the suspicions I have about it. The book is good because of all the human nature implications we learn but since they did the movie totally different…I have a feeling its going to lose the essence of what it wants to portray…well. I’m seeing it on Monday. I’m still excited to see it :)
    Great review Fogs!!

  6. I enjoyed the movie more than you, but I can easily see it as the kind of thing that’s going to bring out a wide variety of reactions. But one thing I’d disagree about is that the lack of brain-chomping, intestine-chewing zombies was in the interest of sanitizing the movie. I think the filmmakers were trying to present the zombies differently than we usually see them. They were supposed to be a humanoid virus, pure and simple. Their goal was to infect healthy organisms. They attack, they bite, they move on. By making that their only purpose, the movie is able to both differentiate them from every zombie we’ve seen before, and also base them in something that feels more believable and scientific…as much as that’s possible in a genre like this.

    Understandably, a lot of people are interested in a zombie movie in the first place because they WANT to see people getting their brains chomped and intestines chewed, so I get that people may be disappointed in how these undead are portrayed. But I thought it was a refreshing way to go, and bolstered the credibility of the solution Gerry comes up with. The idea felt organic to me, rather than a way to make the movie less gory for commercial reasons.

    • I understand the whys of what youre saying about different zombies, DB, doesn’t mean I have to like it though. Or to think it makes a better movie. Frankly I like a little “GROSSSSS!!” to sweeten my zombie movies with LOL ;) Glad you appreciated it, I felt as if it were “Zombie Lite” :(

  7. I believe the reason for the PG-13 rating is because the picture cost so much to make, an R rating would limit the amount of people seeing it. They’ve got to get butts into the theater seats. Now my 11 year old grandson can see it.

    • Of course, that’s pretty much the reason every PGF-13 movie aims for that rating, no?

      Meanwhile, being somewhat familiar with the types of things your son takes his boy to, I think this will be no problem for him at all…

  8. Okay…okay…I am getting curious now–I was going to pass but the mixed reception has me wanting to check it out. But I plan to keep my expectations low!

    Later! :D

  9. Nice review Fogs. am not a fan of the genre, but i do give them a go occasionally. they’re always tense viewing in a depressing but entertaining way-Night of the Living Dead, 28 days, I am legend. i wonder whether should give this a try. your B- is pretty low.

    • It’s not the best movie ever Martin, but it probably actually plays better to people who ARENT fans of the genre. As a zombie movie fan, I was disappointed in things… but they were absolutely there in order to make the movie more broadly accessible, if you know what I mean…

  10. as a real big non-believer in zombie films, I’m actually far closer to seeing this than I am probably ready to admit. Although by the sounds of it from this great review it seems there’s a slightly different take on this beaten-to-death horse. I may still check it out. hmmm…..

    • I was just saying above, it probably actually plays better to people who ARENT fans of the genre. They definitely are making a more accessible movie than your typical gang of undead feasting on corpses flick ;)

      • Great point, Fogarty! Still, this is a jumbo mess. As most first experiment trials on–as Brad Pitt calls it–“genre-bending” are, that is. Nice review, too!

      • Thanks Armand. In the end, I don’t even know how Genre bending it was. If they adapted the novel straight up (or more faithfully at least) it might have been, but at the end of the day, this is still a survivor looking for a cure… :(

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  12. I have no preconceived ideas about this film at all. I’m looking forward to catching it on Blu eventually…. Nice review, Fogs. Glad to hear WWZ isn’t a total debacle.

  13. I’m most intrigued about how this matches up with the book. Really enjoyed the book and not entirely happy with how it’s been adapted. But there ya go!

    • There are almost no similarities between this and the book whatsoever, Jaina, I’ll warn you now. I actually read this book, and even though I wasn’t the hugest fan of it, I still think it was better than what they gave us here.

      Seriously, its as if the producers just bought the title and then 100% abandoned the book. :(

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  15. I didn’t enjoy it as much as you but enjoyed reading this Fogs. Agree that the lack of gore is a problem. That’s my major bugbear, and I don’t think I got over it throughout the film.

    • Thanks, I can totally understand where you’re coming from. The zombie action here kind of sucked. It really wasn’t much of a horror movie at all, it was almost more of an action movie with zombies! :o

  16. Fogs, I swear I did not read this review prior to comparing this film to a better paced Contagion, that does not make the mistake of introducing 600 characters.

    Not great but a decent watch and better than I thought it would be. I wish they had gone with an R rating.

    • “Fogs, I swear I did not read this review prior to comparing this film to a better paced Contagion,” [shrugs] It’s an easy comparison to make ;) Low hanging fruit if you will. LOL

      Not great but decent is exactly how I feel about it. I had super low expectations, and this movie wound up better than I thought. Its not saying much, but at least it didn’t totally suck.

  17. I think I liked it a little better than you did but most of your criticism is on target. I like some Zombie ‘killin” and the absence of the crowbar in the zombie head was just too sad. I saw an outline of the original third act on another site and boy were they right to change it. The nearly stand alone sequence at the WHO facility is a lot more coherent and less irritating.

    • Really, huh? I should track down what they initially intended, then, I am interested…

      Frankly I wasn’t all that happy with the end end, and the third act still has a lot of eye rolling moments for me. So I wonder how bad it could have been initially! :o

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