Based on the novel of the same name, World War Z is the story of Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), one man traveling the globe in search of answers to a worldwide zombie epidemic.
When the planet is suddenly and inexplicably overrun by the violent undead, former UN investigator, Gerry, and his family manage to be among those accepted into the refuge of the center of US operations on an aircraft carrier. The thing is, they’re there on one condition – they qualify as “essential personnel” if Gerry leaves his family and the safety of the ship to assist in tracking down the source of the outbreak in order to stop it. Accompanying the brilliant mind who is considered to be humanity’s best hope to South Korea, their most promising lead, Gerry finds that when zombies are concerned, things don’t often go according to plan. Soon he’s traveling from country to country, Sherlocking his way to answers while trying not to get eaten.
World War Z is just under two hours long and doesn’t waste any of that time getting going. Maybe five minutes pass before mass chaos ensues as rabid undead humans begin to ravage people in the streets and before you know it, pretty much nowhere is safe. These are no moaning slow zombies, these take the current breed of fast zombies to a new level. With only seconds between bite and transformation, this zombie epidemic spreads nearly as quickly as the zombies themselves move. Less like zombies and more like super hyper rabid people that can’t die and want to kill you, these are pretty terrifying (although sometimes delightfully comical) creatures.
It’s refreshing to see some people deal with zombies both in a way that acknowledges what they are, and treats the situation with at least an inkling of common sense. Although he survives many times that he shouldn’t, Brad Pitt’s character at least feels like someone smart and capable enough to still be alive. There are, unfortunately, very few other characters in this movie that are interesting enough to feel worth caring about. We get some nice little sentimental moments with his family, but it’s all very typical. There are a couple interesting personalities he meets along his journey, but still none that stand out terribly much. Some of the zombies, in fact, are much more memorable than most of the living people.
I can’t recall seeing a zombie movie that is on such a massive scale. We tend to get glimpses of a small group of survivors and their limited scope of experience in films like Dawn of the Dead. We see plenty of zombies, but in a relatively small area. Most of the time a couple news reports are the only indication we’re given that this is indeed a widespread problem. Not here. Here we get to see zombies all across the world – hence the title. We also get some fantastic aerial shots that really show just how devastating and massive the tide of undead is.
Coming up on the release of this film, there have been two main concerns – other than the production problems and reshoots done – about this film. First, that it doesn’t follow the source material and second, it’s watered down to PG-13. I haven’t read the book, but from my understanding, the film version does not follow very closely at all. And maybe the book is fantastic and a much better tale than this movie, but it doesn’t stop Pitt’s endeavor from becoming a solid story of it’s own. Maybe it doesn’t deserve the title World War Z, but it does deserve a look.
As far as the PG-13 rating goes, never did I feel like the film is watered down or that they were cutting corners to keep it appropriate for younger audiences. No, there is not much blood and gore, and a lot of the violence is suggested rather than shown, but it never feels cheap and awkward the way movies have a tendency to do when they are trying to keep things to a certain rating. It’s confident in it’s style and portrayal, so it works.
It is, on occasion, surprisingly slow for being a zombie thriller. At times it is more interesting than exciting, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a lot more plot driven than a lot of zombie movies with a clear goal with clear importance and a detective story that unfolds at a steady pace. This is not a movie about the huddled masses wondering what’s going on outside – this is the story of the people who are determined to find out what’s going on and run right into the midst of zombie hoards in order to do so. It’s a worthy entry into the genre’s library and worth a watch on the big screen.
Mrs. Hamster Says:
“This is the smartest zombie movie that I’ve seen. It was nice to see a different perspective than dumb kids trying to stay alive.”
My Rating: Four out of Five Hats
World War Z ravages 3,607 theaters June 21 in 2D and 3D