WORLD WAR Z
*1/2 (out of 5)
June 21, 2013
Brad Pitt as GERRY LANE
Mireille Enos as KARIN LANE
James Badge Dale as CAPTAIN SPEKE
David Morse as GUNTER HAFFNER
Ludi Boeken as WARMBRUNN
Fana Mokoena as THIERRY
Abigail Hargrove as RACHEL LANE
Sterling Jerins as CONSTANCE LANE
Daniella Kertesz as SEGEN
Directed by: Marc Forster
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
While I appreciate a good zombie movie, I am not a fan of the genre. They’re cool monsters, sure, but the genre can get old quickly. So the idea of making a massive, global zombie movie was somewhat appealing to me. However, “World War Z” misses that mark so many times, it’s impossible to recover.
The film is based on a popular book by Max Brooks, though major changes have occurred in the translation from page to screen (or so I’m told, as I never read the book myself). The production was plagued with problems, including a wildly expensive reshoot and major rewrites.
And we still got a neutered zombie film.
The story follows a family during the sudden outbreak of the zombie apocalypse. Originally presenting itself as a bizarre form of rabies, the zombie pathogen is extremely contagious, turning someone into a mindless monster in mere seconds. Brad Pitt stars as the father who is trying to get his family to safety. Eventually, due to his military experience and special skills set, he is chosen to lead an international mission to track down the source of the outbreak.
First, let’s look at the positive aspects of this film. The scope is there for a massive movie. You’ve never seen such widespread zombie infections as is shown in “World War Z.” This leads to some impressive scenes by director Marc Forster, who runs the gambit of films from intimate characters studies like “Finding Neverland” to massive blockbusters like the James Bond outing “Quantum of Solace.”
However, while there are some neat moments, they really aren’t zombie moments… at least not in the traditional sense. Because while the zombies attack people, have vacant eyes and apparently try to eat the flesh of the living, all the shocking punches are pulled.
I’ve never been one to demand an R rating for certain films, but “World War Z” aiming for the PG-13 puts the film in the precarious spot. It’s a near bloodless movie as a result, with bodily fluids oozing like black tar rather than a chilling bright red. Similarly, for as violent as the movie can become, it’s clear the real emotional impact of survivor violence is lost or trimmed away. In the end, this hurts the movie because what could be terrifying and disturbing becomes mundane.
In the end, we’re left with a CGI-rubber zombie flick with characters I really didn’t care about.
In an attempt to find moments of emotion, the scenes with Brad Pitt and his family are forced and irritating. His character has two of the most underdeveloped children ever seen in a summer movie. His wife literally sits around for half the film doing nothing, which may be realistic but hardly gives any necessity to her screen time. In a summer of big, burly, testosterone-fueled films, the treatment of women in primary roles in this film is the most insulting because they are just so pointless to the overall story.
Part of the problem with “World War Z” is the Forster isn’t a horror director. He’s a dramatic guy. So some of his choices may have seemed effective in the bubble of his own mind, surrounded by his own yes men on the production. However, they turn out to be silly or unintentionally hilarious. The audience in which I saw this film laughed more than they jumped when the close-up zombies came on screen, and that’s not the reaction you want in a film like this.
So, “World War Z” doesn’t work as a zombie film, but it also doesn’t work as a movie of stark realism, either. What could be a fascinating examination of geopolitics and global crisis is lost to characters making moronic decisions and horrendously bad choices. Too many scenes feature ridiculously moronic actions from some people just to propel the film to the next toothless zombie attack.
In the end, I was rooting for the zombies.