Marc Forster‘s highly-discussed big screen adaptation of the popular novel World War Z is here and it’s actually not as bad as it looks or sounds, despite the film’s numerous re-writes, re-shoots and delays. Brad Pitt carries what is arguably the biggest zombie film in terms of sheer size and scale and the result is a middling effort that’s scary and tense in some moments and completely dumb and off the rails in others. World War Z is good though and for that reason alone you really should see it on the biggest screen possible.
The world is under attack by some sort of fast-spreading virus. Does it turn people into rage-infected rabies victims or are they actually members of the living dead? Zombies is a term that isn’t loosely thrown around here, but that really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) finds the source of this outbreak or at the very least some way to cure it or fight it.
The human population is dwindling down at a rapid pace, while every single country scuffles to find a solution or a way to prolong their inevitable death. The world is in complete chaos and there’s very little we can do about it.
That’s one message that director Marc Forster gets across loud and clear in World War Z. There’s not a lot of hope and instead massive amounts of global carnage that only seems to get worse as the days go by. World War Z is absolutely massive in terms of scale. This is the biggest and probably most expensive zombie film to date, yet it’s PG-13 and features mostly CGI-rendered undead creatures. It sucks knowing those last two facts, but Forster actually makes it work with his effective blend of both telling a globe-trotting adventure story, while also focusing on a single core character that only wants what is best for his family.
World War Z‘s plot is thin and light, but that only helps the film travel fast and efficiently. You don’t really care about anyone else besides Brad Pitt‘s character and that’s perfectly fine, because only a man of Pitt’s talent can carry something as hollow as this. There’s not many moments of real emotional sympathy in this film, but there are a lot of scenes featuring some top-notch nail-biting suspense.
I expected WWZ to be more action than horror, yet the film comes to a halt on numerous occasions to try and focus on building suspense and tension. It mostly works too, with some scenes being downright scary and unsettling.
Unfortunately, Forster follows those slow-burn build ups with mindless action on a gigantic scale. It’s visually impressive watching the zombies act as one virus with a sole purpose, but it’s also laughable because the special effects are seriously awful. Large swarms of zombies on paper sounds like a cool idea and when it’s delivered it does initially shock and awe, but then you realize that none of it is even remotely real and that it was all rendered on somebody’s laptop.
The special effects team do very little to hide this fact and it weighs down on the film substantially. Luckily Marc Forster keeps things moving to fresh and new locations almost every fifteen minutes, which doesn’t make much sense from a story point, but certainly makes things more interesting from an audience member’s standpoint.
Brad Pitt‘s hair is also extra awesome in this one. It’s seriously the definition of an on-screen legend in the making. It flows with the wind and provides him with much-needed comfort during the long flights that almost always end in everyone around him getting ripped to shreds. He has some of the best worst luck ever and by that I simply mean that he always gets into these horrific events, yet comes out mostly unscratched. It’s got to be the hair.
Seriously though, the hair plays a crucial part towards the end of the film. Things get really dumb after yet another well-filmed and steady moment of tension and thrills. Forster chooses to end his film on the rockiest of roads, pushing out most logic for a conclusion that is everything but satisfying. He also does this while unintentionally shooting a Pepsi commercial, featuring Brad’s perfectly-kept-up locks. It’s a one-two punch that’s funny and almost classifies as bad taste.
Are they not making a serious zombie movie anymore?
World War Z goes off the rails in a bad way towards the end, but everything up until that point is unusually productive. I was honestly surprised by how much fun I was having and how quick the story progressed, while also escalating in scale and continuing to scare around almost every other corner.
But a film like World War Z was never going to be perfect and soon enough everything was going to come crashing down. The ending leaves room for more, which I’m afraid isn’t too far away depending on the box office intake.
*The 3D is very hit or miss. Some of the grounded shots help provide a better sense of depth and terror, but a vast majority of the film is shaky and blurry, which makes the 3D up charge an added headache. This is what happens when you do extensive re-shoots. I’d stay away from the 3D just to be on the safe side.*
World War Z – 7.5/10