There’s been so much hype surrounding ‘World War Z’ ever since it was picked up to be adapted into a feature film. After the Max Brooks novel gained critical acclaim, many were excited to see it get the big screen treatment, especially when Brad Pitt became attached. But all the hype slowed down once it was revealed that the production encountered some problems with the script and required massive reshoots. Well, after seeing the finished product, I don’t think that even big guns like ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ writer Damon Lindelof or ‘Cabin In The Woods’ co-writer/director Drew Goddard could fix it.
This film by Marc Foster, the director behind great films like ‘Finding Neverland’, ‘Stranger Than Fiction’, and ‘Quantum of Solace’, follows Pitt as Gerry Lane, a retired United Nations employee who is pulled back into action when a worldwide zombie epidemic takes hold and starts demolishing the major cities of the world. Because it’s the only way to ensure his family’s safety with the government, he accepts the mission to travel to the ends of the Earth to search for a way to stop this infestation from spreading and destroying the world as we know it.
While the action scenes were pretty good and their version of zombies was interesting both visually and conceptually, ‘World War Z’ had a bunch of glaring flaws. The first thing for me was that nothing really happened organically. Plot points were forced and incredibly too convenient. Things just worked out too easily for Gerry, so it was hard to sympathize with his character or his mission. Even when something as big as Gerry’s government friend Thierry finding himself unable to keep his promise, there’s really no repercussions or resistance in any way. The story ended up being a parade of plot points rolling out as though a machine was manufacturing them. There was no emotional connection whatsoever.
Another factor that contributed to the problems of this movie was the length. The movie felt entirely too long and scenes dragged at various points. But despite the elongated feeling, the resolution still came very quickly. The film spent so much time showing the global effects of the virus that when it came to to wrap things up, it was like, “Oh wait, we’re almost out of time. Speed things up!” It’s hard to be satisfied by anything that is so rushed that it practically pushes you out the door.
Finally, I found it extremely difficult to suspend disbelief while watching this film. As I mentioned earlier, things worked out too easily for our protagonist, but the biggest thing that contributed to this difficulty in believing in what was going on was the way this ex-UN investigator gained his information. One instance in particular involved Gerry speaking with a prisoner driven insane by captivity. He had no reason to believe this raving maniac. The soldiers at the base warned Lane about the prisoner. They repeatedly declared how unreliable he was. Yet, after a minute or so of conversation, Gerry was on board with everything this mad man had to say. Say what? Just like that? Whatever, Gerry. You do your thing.
The bottom line with ‘World War Z’ is that while there’s plenty of blood and guts (there are even some brains in there due to some interesting scientific aspects scattered throughout the movie), there just wasn’t any heart. When the credits rolled, I was extremely unsatisfied with the results and was just overcome with a feeling of meh. I wish that I could even say that it was a good attempt at a serious dramatic take on zombie films, but I can’t. While I applaud the production for the scope that the movie encompassed, because no other zombie film has been able to pull that off it to my knowledge, they just couldn’t keep it together enough to keep me interested until the end.
However, despite it’s many flaws, I predict that audiences will still flock to theaters and indulge in this hybrid of the Bourne movies and ’28 Days Later’ that’s been watered down so much to be mindless summer movie fodder.