Director: Marc Forster
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale, Fana Mokoena
In this time where zombie culture is as prominent as ever, World War Z was both highly anticipated and also expected to be a disappointment among fans of the genre. Although I’m not really sure why they even bought rights to the title when they didn’t use any material from the book (except a few things), I still believe this to be a worthy zombie film that won’t disappoint undead fanatics but might leave lovers of the book wanting something more.
Plot: Gerry Lane (Pitt), who works for the UN, believed it to be a normal day until all hell broke loose in Philadelphia. Trying to move his family to safety and at the same time wondering what it is that’s going on, he arranges to get rescued by an old friend from the UN, Thierry Umutoni (Mokoena). Thierry informs Lane that the only way his family can stay safely with him is if Lane travels to what is believed to be the source of the outbreak to try to discover how to cure the disease that seems to be plaguing the world. This puts Lane in a race against time as he must find answers before humanity is too far gone.
A lot of people have criticized the film as a “missed opportunity”. Going off such great source material from Max Brook’s novel by the same name, I agree that it doesn’t really do the book justice. That is not to say that I didn’t like the story in the film, though. You have to sympathize with the director a little because the book doesn’t really make sense to transfer into a movie. If you’ve read it, you know that it’s a collection of interviews with a whole bunch of people about the zombie war and mainly how it was looked at from a political point of view. It was an observation of how the outbreak affected countries relationships and what countries did well and who didn’t. Although I believe Forster could have touched on these topics a little more in the film, by including certain wars that the book mentions and such, I liked how the story followed Gerry Lane. The ambiguous ending could even mean for a sequel that focuses on the book more and I for one would not mind that at all.
What it comes down to in the end is that this movie really just played it safe, in all aspects. I would have liked to seen this movie with an R rating because I believe the PG-13ness of the movie was one of it’s biggest downfalls. There was next to no blood seen, although it’s a movie about zombies, and I’m sure we all could have done with a little more zombie action combat. We rarely see zombies up-close, as we almost always see them from a distance in huge CGI zombie crowds. Those scenes are impressive, but tiring when all you want to see is some good ole fashioned zombie slaying. We get plenty of Brad Pitt (not a bad thing), but not enough zombies, in my opinion. I think they definitely could have explored the idea of how these zombies really affected things more. Instead, we go right from normality to all out war against these things, with no time in between.
Pitt is definitely a major highlight of the movie. As it was his production company that gained the rights to making the film, he was the sure-fire lead and this is very welcome. Pitt is probably one of my favorite actors and he was great in the role. He wasn’t at all superhero like or even super intelligent, and that’s what makes his character so likable. To my understanding, the original ending to the movie is a lot darker than the actual one, and I really hope they include it on the DVD/Blu-ray because I would love to see Pitt in it. Apparently the original ending includes Lane turning into a zombie killing badass and I think that would’ve been fun to see.
Forster describes the movie as an “epic”, in that it portrays the zombie infection on a huge scale. This is great to see in the movie but it is also where the film differs from the novel. The novel, although it also focuses on the global scale of the infection, just feels a lot more personal as it has different characters recounting their own experiences. Both Pitt and Forster are very confident of a sequel and Paramount has already announced they are working on one. Pitt even has said that the movie is set up to become a series in order for it to explore all of the content that is in the book. This definitely peaks my interest but they would really have to go at it the right way.
Conclusion: Fans of the Max Brook’s novel won’t be impressed with how the movie adaptation held up, but all in all, it’s a good zombie film that actually impressed me quite a bit. Pitt didn’t disappoint and was actually one of the best parts of the movie. The zombies are cool, and the mass crowds of them will impress you. I wish they had taken more of a risk with this movie, though. You can’t help but feel like you wanted something more from it. With sequels already in motion, I just hope they find out what that something is so they don’t just come out with more of the same. As a zombie lover myself, I was grateful that they tackled such a huge project and this movie satisfied me of my zombie-fill enough for now.