Right now in pop culture there is a huge zombie mania going on. One of the highest rated and most popular shows on television is “The Walking Dead.” A big reason why people buy Treyarch “Call of Duty” games is for the incredibly fun and addicting zombie mode. More than that there dozens of zombie or zombie like games being released the past couple years and the same could said about movies. Zombies are “cool” again. Now Max Brooks’s widely popular novel, “World War Z” is making its big screen adaptation being produced and starred by Brad Pitt. A lot of things did make me concerned, the trouble production, all the re-shooting, and different editing for different countries. But never the less the trailers did make it look like a smart, fun, action filled ride, despite the PG-13 rating, I was sold. So the question is did the film succeed in everything it seem to set out to do? Well the answer is no, the film falls shy over its ambitious goals, and while it’s not a bad movie it still doesn’t pack enough quality and leaves you with a feeling un satisfaction after only a few thrilling moments.
Former United Nations employee Gerry Lane goes across the world to find a cure to stop the zombie outbreak that has infected the world.
I wish I could say there was more to it than just that but that’s about it. For full disclosure, I have not read the original novel that it is based off of, but from what I’ve read about the film it is absolutely nothing like the book. It seems the only reason that it is even called “World War Z” is for marketing purposes and to draw in fans of the novel. Not that they really needed to do that. Let’s face it zombies are a huge popular thing right now in the pop culture world. It’s not like they needed anything else other than zombies to be in it for people to go see it. Using the novel however will obviously piss off a lot of fans but (again from what I have been hearing and reading) like it’s so different than the book than you really can’t criticize it for being different.
From a film standpoint the story is pretty straight forward. The movie wastes absolutely no time getting into the zombies. There is no build up at all, “the shit hits the fan” (for lack of a better phrase) within maybe the first 10 min. Here is where the film starts to have some problems. Of course this is a summer blockbuster fare and we all came here to watch the zombies in some crazy action. That’s all well and good, I’m not asking for some deep script with pulse pounding themes that really make you think. I mean I loved “Expendables 2” (2012), so I am all for some mindless action from time to time. But here’s the thing you got to have characters that the audiences can care about. Within the first 10 min of this movie (3 of which was opening credits) isn’t enough to make me care about the characters and what happens to them. They might as well have been eaten and moved on to different characters right after and I wouldn’t have cared. As the film progresses you do come to find the main character and his family likeable but if they died I don’t think I would have cared at any point in this movie, unless it was the little girl because little children dying is always tragic.
There is no build up in the story. It jumps quickly into the action and then continues to move in typical blockbuster style territory. The main character Gerry has to go off to other places around the world in hopes of finding a cure for the zombie outbreak and basically moves from one action set up to the next. Most of it doesn’t add too much impact to the overall story, we see random people who know little about get attacked by zombies and only a few lines of dialogue in those scenes really matter.
The action in the film is as times thrilling and well made, other times very choppy and hard to get a hold of what you’re looking. Director Marc Forster seems sometimes that he is tripping over his own shoe laces in most scenes and can’t seem to make a coherent action sequence. Some of the sequences are thrilling however most fall very short because of the whole time it feels like someone is taking your head and starts shaking it. Then other times everything is perfectly still and fine, it’s a very disorienting to switch between those two different styles and I have the same criticism of Marc Foster’s previous attempt at making a James Bond movie “Quantum of Solace” (2008).
Like I said before this is a PG-13 zombie film so basically the blood and the gore is gone, so no longer can these zombies frighten you or intimidate you by the horrific things they do. So they try over compensate that by making them fast. These zombies can run, jump and react quickly and which is fine. I am not one of those zombie fans where I say you can only have slow moving zombies (even though by far those are my favorite) and find room for the fast moving quick and deadly flesh eaters. But that being said these zombies are put together in such an overly fake and cartoony way that it takes you out of the movie most of the time they are on screen. For a great majority of the time they look like painfully fake CGI messes, pretending to look real and/or threatening.
Another thing about the picture is it looks like the movie was shot to be rated R and then censored. Its like only a fragment of a movie and it shouldn’t feel like that. For the amount of money the studio probably poured into this film, there was no way this film was ever going to be rated R. This creates a problem when you watching the movie, it really feels like some government official went in and made them take out all of the blood and violence, which couldn’t be further from the truth either! This is something that takes you completely out of the film and makes for uneven experience.
Then you arrive to the end of the film and leave you with a feeling of un satisfaction. It is one of the most anti climactic endings to a movie I have seen in many years. It will leave you going “that’s it”? By the end you can’t help but think to yourself what wasted potential. I can say there are a few redeeming qualities and the acting is fine, Brad Pitt is perfectly likeable and good as the lead. You will get some thrills out of the movie but the whole time you can see there is so much potential here for a great fun zombie flick but most of it’s lost in translation. The studio is hoping to turn this into a franchise and although it seemed like I hated it, I really didn’t. I thought the film was incredibly flawed but had a few redeeming qualities and a franchise still has potential. It’s not bad or good, it’s just okay. But for this film, okay isn’t enough.