Monday, July 22, 2013

World War Z: A Review

This movie should have been re-named World War Zzzzzz. 

The play on letters does not imply I at any point fell asleep during this film. No, it just reflects the lack of creativity shown in a project that included three things: Brad Pitt, two-hundred million dollars and zombies. Lots of zombies. 

Maybe it was because the zombie genre is entirely played out. How many takes can you have on it? The remake  of Dawn of the Dead back in 2004 was stellar, as was 28 Days Later. Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland made viewers realize zombies and comedy could play nice. Z was supposed to be the latest and greatest, especially with Pitt's name attached to it. It was only the latest.

We are introduced to Gerry Lane (Pitt) and his wife (Mirielle Enos) and two daughters. The movie makes you root for Pitt to get back to them safely, and then worry about the rest of mankind.

The day begins like any other, and stay-at-home-dad Gerry is flipping pancakes and trading light barbs with his wife and daughters while feeling glad to be not "in the field" anymore. They travel through the busy streets of Philadelphia, when traffic is unusually heavy and a cop flies by, knocking Gerry's driver's side mirror off his Volvo. This causes Gerry to leave his car briefly and  semi-investigate what exactly is going on.

"STAY IN YOUR CAR!" a motorcycle officer screams at Gerry before being wiped out by a semi-truck, a scene that is shown in every trailer preceding this movie.

I'd tell the viewer to buckle up, but what follows is a mundane zombie movie. It constantly revolves around Gerry and his family, and every now and then we remember there is a whole world that is plagued, too. Karin, Gerry's wife (played by Mireille Enos) is miscast. She and Pitt lack any sort of chemistry that makes you care about their relationship.

Oh wait- you're probably wondering how the virus started, right? Well it.....was never explained. If the film were a person, it would shrug at you and go, "It sort of just happened- you know, the whole world in a state of pandemonium. No big deal." I'm not sure if I classify that as a plot hole or wonder if Marc Forster intended the viewer to just make up a starting point. Gerry is sent back in the field (he was a former U.N. crisis manager), only for the sake of his family being able to stay safely aboard an aircraft carrier somewhere in the Atlantic. He's told to find out where the disease began, with nothing to run with in terms of a lead. Talk about a needle in a haystack.

This movie reportedly cost over 200 million to make. The mass hoards of zombies done by computer imaging are mighty impressive, and the selling point in the trailers. That one aspect is about the only original thing I can credit Z for. As much as all the bells and whistles of this film cost to make, the one thing it needed but totally lacked was an edge. Things happened, and then the film sort of ended. There was no "I can't believe that just happened" moment as you watched Gerry's wife or daughters get bit and waited inevitably for  them to turn. The four  of them operate in an all-too-safe bubble the entire film, and then it's over.

While other characters fill their roles as they should, there are no scene-stealing performances of any sort, which in a way places a very short leash on the entire cast. Forster and company might pat themselves on the back for getting a PG-13 rating of a zombie summer "blockbuster", but I hardly would go tooting my horn about such a minor accomplishment. The rating places a ceiling on the film, one incredibly low for a zombie flick.

Every man in the world wishes he could be Brad Pitt. He has a lot of fame and a ton of money. After Z, the one lesson is everyone should wish they are Brad Pitt during a zombie apocalypse. He can't get hurt, after all.

It's science.


  1. Even though it’s better than I expected it to be, it’s still poor in its script. Nice review Sean.