The stunted production of Mark Forster’s World War Z has been very well documented over the last 12 months. Various reshoots and rewrites have been done and a number of scenes were supposedly cut to secure distribution deals in places like China so the question on most peoples mind was just how good could this film be following all this?
Let me start off by noting that I’ve not read Max Brooks’ novel so I can’t possibly judge this film on how loyal an adaptation it is. I’ve been informed that it is doesn’t exactly stick very closely to it’s source material however this is clearly not an issue for me. Anyway, here’s the movies plot:
Brad Pitt plays Gerry, a retired UN detective turned family man. One day, pretty much out of the blue, Philadelphia, his home town begins to get over run by zombies. However it’s not just poor old Philly that’s being attacked, various news sequences and radio calls show us that the whole world seems to have been over run. Naturally Brad Pitt’s character is our only hope and thus he sets off on a quest from country to country hoping to find a way to save the world and his family.
Now that’s out of the way lets get down to business. World War Z is by no means a terrible movie; in fact at times it’s a very enjoyable one. However it has a lot of major issues holding it back from what it could have potentially been.
First of all is its genre, the movie often seems schizophrenic in the sense it seems unsure of exactly what exactly it wants to be. Elements of the sci-fi, horror, action and thriller genres are all present but the movie jumps so quickly between all of them it is difficult to tell exactly what it wants to be or where we’re at in the film.
It never holds enough tension or provokes enough thought to be classed as a thriller; the scares are too few and far between to make its mark as a horror and the presence of these two elements break up the action pieces far too much for it to be ever be too exciting.
That being said the movies set pieces are very impressive, despite the fact they may be edited to the point of nausea. Zombies scaling the Israeli wall and the plane sequence are both visual delights you will have been treated to in the trailer and they are even more impressive when witnessed in full.
Brad Pitt also does a brilliant job in the lead role. Armed with a rifle and the obligatory slash on the face he sets off around the world fighting off zombies, finding clues and just doing those things action heroes do. His supporting cast also do their job efficiently enough, though Sterling Jennings as Gerry’s daughter may well be the most annoying on screen character of 2013.
Going back to the aforementioned editing, this is a serious problem that exists within the film. Scenes are cut up more than the CGI zombies that star in them and it becomes difficult to maintain any focus or to really get involved. Forster’s frequent collaborator Matt Cheese also edited the atrocious Quantum of Solace back in 2008 and the editing here is just as much of a nightmare as it was back then.
The movie’s tone is also occasionally quite comical and this was clearly not intentional. One characters death in particular is pretty damn hilarious whilst the ticks of the zombies, especially the teeth clattering in one scene also provoked laughs among the audience.
One thing many horror junkies will be wondering about is the zombies. Mass produced CGI zombies cover the screen and if you’re a bit of a purist about these kind of things then you may not be too pleased. Forster has ignored the genre’s ‘traditional’ approach and in its place given us a more summer movie friendly approach. Rarely do we see zombies being dismembered and other than the odd splash on the window there is very little blood involved.
Also the problematic final act which caused all the production issues is one which will no doubt divide audiences. Some may see it a tense and suitable ending whilst others may feel it’s slightly anticlimactic and just a little stupid. Me? I’m in the latter camp.
Verdict: Brad Pitt holds the film together well enough but ultimately it has far too many flaws for a film that cost this much money. By no means a terrible movie but certainly not the zombie extravaganza everyone had been hoping for.