Max Brooks wrote a clever, and rather brilliant book called World War Z. Now Brad Pitt is in a movie of the same name. Or, to be more accurate, in a movie set in the same world. This is undoubtedly the biggest zombie movie to date, but is it any life to it?
Massive scale zombie action
Zombies are vicious, looking and moving very cool
Bares little resemblance to excellent source novel
Very disappointing ending
World War Z
Director: Marc Forster
Screenplay: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard & Damon Lindelof
Screen story: Matthew Michael Carnahan and J. Michael Straczynski
Based on the novel by: Max Brooks
Brad Pitt … Gerry Lane
Mireille Enos … Karin Lane
David Morse … Ex-CIA Agent
Matthew Fox … Parajumper
Brad Pitt is Gerry Lane, a former UN investigator, now family man. Following a global zombie outbreak, he is somehow charged with searching the world for it’s origin. What follows is a mega-budget zombie movie, one that leans more towards action than scares, and as such it is okay. After a couple minutes of Brad and his happy family, the movie moves quickly in to the outbreak in Philadelphia, and on to the rest of the world. The scale of the movie is immediately clear. They really trek the globe: America; the ocean; the air; Israel; Canada; Cardiff. Plus, there are zombies, and lots of them.
ACTION HAS SOME LIFE
These are definitely “fast” zombies. Now, it’s been a while since I read the book, so I don’t remember the specific temperament or velocity of Max Brooks‘ zombies, but these are definitely fast. In the opening third there are a few scares, and some good tension, but after that it is more of a large scale action movie. The way they move is very cool, particularly in Jerusalem. They move like a wave through the streets, while at other times they behave like ants.
The action is quite good, but not great. The director Marc Forster stages the sequences well, and they are quite fun, but they feel like they should be better. Aside from the Jerusalem segment, which is probably the highlight of the movie, and the plane sequence, the action tends to come in quick bursts, and lacks tension. There are some cool moments, but it’s Jerusalem that stands out. It really shows how the zombies move, and it all happens in broad daylight, so you can clearly see what’s going on. The movie is, essentially, three or four big action scenes strung together by exposition and increasingly large plane/helicopter flights. Similar to the book, in a manner, but different enough to still be a wasted opportunity.
BRAD VERSUS ALL THE ZOMBIES
The cast is good. Brad is essentially just Brad, but he is as watchable as always. That’s about it though. There are some semi-recognizable faces that do well, including: James Badge Dale (The extremis guy from Iron Man 3); the cute Irish girl from Breakfast On Pluto (Ruth Negga); the cursey guy from In The Loop (Peter Capaldi). Everyone else does well too, but nobody really stands out. Mireille Enos, as Brad’s wife, is possibly the weakest performance, and it’s probably because it’s quite poorly written. But this is a movie about Brad Pitt and zombies.
There are some considerable issues with the movie though. Firstly, it is a missed opportunity. The source novel is filled with so many great stories, most of which would have been better than this. As I said, it’s been a while since I read the book, and I do realize that there are some moments from the book here, but it could have been so much more. Secondly, the whole movie takes a real dip once they get to Cardiff, and the actual ending is quite anti-climactic. It’s not necessarily a bad idea, but it is disappointing. They also make no bones about their desire for these particular undead to live on in a franchise, which is kinda annoying.
BOTTOM LINE: WORLD WAR MEH!
So… As an adaptation of the novel, it isn’t very good. But as a big zombie movie, set in the World of War Z, it’s two-thirds good. There are definitely some cool moments,and it looks pretty darn good, but it fails to deliver in the end, and falls well short of it’s potential. However, if you just want to watch Brad Pitt in massive scale zombie attacks, then you’ll like it.