Hollywood’s latest zombie movie World War Z (WWZ) is based on the book written by Max Brooks. However ‘based’ is all it is as unlike the book it doesn’t deal with any of Brooks big questions about corporate power, corrupt governments or even the illegal trade in human organs. And instead of narrating the intricate, investigative tale through a series of interviews with survivors the film is happy to play it safe and have our hero just save the day.
In the opening sequence of the movie Philadelphia, for some unexplained reason, is suddenly overrun by a mysterious epidemic. Caught in the middle of it Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his wife (Mireille Enos) and kids (Abigall Hargrove, Sterling Jerins) narrowly escape the chaos by hijacking a camper van and making a run for it.
While trying to figure out what is happening, Lane, a former UN investigator, gets a call from his former boss Thierry (Fana Mokoena). It becomes clear that the rampaging, biting zombies area a global problem. Needing their ‘best man” the UN fly Lane and his family out to a military base in the middle of the ocean.
Once there Lane is bribed, his families safety in exchange for his reassignment. Now on the search for answers Lane criss-crosses around the world bumping into international actors in minor roles along the way (Ludi Boeken, Pierfrancesco Favion, Ruth Nega, Moritz Bleibtreu). However there seems to be no cure for the ‘zombie flu’ but the weirdly intuitive Lane has an idea and makes his way to a Welsh research laboratory, his newly acquired, one-armed, Israeli sidekick Segen (Daniella Kertesz) in tow. But even the would-be climatic scenes in the laboratory fall slightly flat and no real answers are given.
Why does the UN think so highly of Lane? He doesn’t seem to have any real knowledge, nor is he particularly brave or bright, he is resourceful but seems to think more of his family then the problem at hand. How did the whole thing start? Was there some sort of conspiracy like the detained CIA agent (David Morse) was ranting on about? Why the weird monologue at the end? And why 3D, there really is no need for it.
Overall World War Z isn’t a bad film, it’s just not particularly good, and definitely not ‘genre-bending’ as Pitt proclaimed it to be. While the WWZ zombies aren’t the usual slow-moving undead we have gotten use to, they do seem to have a lot in common with Zack Snyders ones in the remake of Dawn of the Dead.
Director Marc Forster seems lost and just piles on one massive destruction scene after the other. Its length doesn’t help and some of its disjointedness could down to the several attempts of reworking the ending. And it definitely it doesn’t help, that it veers so far away from the book. In addition to this there is no real character development and besides Pitt all other actors feel like garnish.
But if you like zombies and want to see Pitt run around in ill-fitting clothes and with a bad hairdo, World War Z isn’t the worst way to spend an evening.