“Every person we save is one less zombie to fight.”
In the event of a zombie apocalypse, it is good to know the United Nations will help us…I think. World War Z starts off with a look into the life of ex-United Nations investigator Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt). Now residing in Philadelphia with his wife (Mirielle Enos) and two daughters, Gerry may live an uneventful life, but it is one he enjoys being free of everyday dangers and global affairs.
On a seemingly routine drive in traffic, all mayhem ensues. Not much is clear, but what is crystal is the realization that an undead horde of ravenous zombies has descended upon not just Philadelphia, but the world. No one knows where this originated, but the fact of the matter is that upon being bitten, it only takes 12 seconds to change into one of them. This is a pandemic, and it requires Gerry going back into his U.N. role trotting across the globe for a solution, all while resources and most importantly manpower are quickly dwindling.
World War Z? For yours truly, this might as well have been titled World War E(mpty). Released in summer 2013 as an action blockbuster with zombies, I had a fairly good idea of what to expect. While it certainly isn’t a complete waste of a few hours as it does have a few entertaining aspects, the movie doesn’t do a whole lot well in any particular area to absolve a relatively empty feeling.
In many places, WWZ is really reminiscent of a video game, and this is a plus as much as it is a minus. Ever played some games that put so many enemies on screen without a visual hiccup or glitch? Directed by Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace, Monster’s Ball), his feature here looks best when he is able to present the audience with really wide and establishing shots that show the crisis of the zombie invasion. At the very least, Forster should be praised with creating an apocalyptic world that has been overrun with zombies. It looks and feels like it should.
Going back to the video game comparison, ever play those games that look great from afar but end up with less than visually appearing character models up close? This describes WWZ pretty effectively. As alluded to previously, the wide shots (draw distances in video game terms) are well done. When the zombies are shown on a more individual nature, there is more to nitpick. The CGI movement becomes much more noticeable and sort of goofy in a way.
As a result, some of the bigger action set pieces lack the awe found in so many blockbusters. However, this may be less of an indictment on the CGI, and more on the janky camera work. Maybe it was a result of the PG-13 rating (didn’t view the unrated cut), but many directors are able to capture fluid and convincing action under that rating. With as rabid as these zombies are said to be, the confrontations involving them are pretty tame.
Really, the huge talk surrounding World War Z was that of the numerous script rewrites and faithfulness to the book. Yours truly cannot speak on the accuracy of the latter, but the former is evident. It isn’t a bad plot, and truth be told there was enough there to keep myself relatively interested, especially as the movie wore on to the 3rd act (an act I actually enjoyed in comparison to most). Still, it is most definitely rough around the edges, as if certain aspects were meant to be more fleshed out but never realized.
On a more specific look, so much of this just felt like Brad Pitt’s character going globe trotting to places where help was promised only to find out that he has to go to another place to get the help/answer. As it sounds, this gets pretty old fast, much like Gerry continually telling us that he is doing this heroic stuff for his family. When the movie harps on this, it gets to become pretty annoying, as if this flick is designed to tug at our heartstrings.
At the forefront of WWZ is Brad Pitt, playing Gerry Lane. Pitt is a superstar, and will most likely continue to be for quite some time. What he does here is solid, but nothing really of note. He is probably here to sell some tickets and drive revenue for this franchise and not have to work too hard, but it isn’t hard to imagine another person in this role. For what he is asked to do, he is fine, nothing more or less. After that, everyone else is just sort of there, actually forgettable. Mirielle Enos (Gerry’s wife), the child actresses who play their kids, and others who Gerry comes in contact with fail to leave an imprint.
Even with all of this said, World War Z does have enough present to see the makings of a potential franchise. If our war has just begun with the undead masses, there should be time to improve strategy.
Photo credits to go aceshowbiz.com, variety.com, and paramountstore.com.
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