I am not a Zombie aficionado. I did not start watching The Walking Dead until midway through season three. I was a fan of The Living Dead franchise and had no problems with 28 Days Later. I really rather enjoyed Warm Bodies. I hate(d) the Resident Evil Series. Given my Zombie resume is somewhat middle of the road, the hype surrounding the release of World War Z had very little affect on me. The truth is had I not known that I would need to be conversant on this film for the purposes of the show and this site – there is a good chance I would have waited for it to come out on DVD. I’m glad I didn’t.
World War Z is apparently a very very loose adaptation of the novel by the same name written by Max Brooks. This may come as a shock to you – but I have not read the book either. Once again, I’m glad I didn’t. The film adaptation stars Brad Pitt as United Nations war crimes investigator extraordinaire (Ret.) Gerry Lane. In the opening of the movie we see Gerry with his family, which are comprised of Mireille Enos, Abigail Hargrove and Sterling Jerins – the three ladies in his life and presumably the reason he is no longer working in the capacity of an investigator. They appear to currently be living the American dream, although we are meant to understand that Gerry’s work was a real issue for his family life and we learn that his daughter is a severe asthmatic. I’ll assume this was meant to make us care for the characters, but the truth is his family seemed so secondary to the movie that they never meant much to me at all.
Once we have been oriented on the hero of the film, it wastes no time diving into the action, which is intense! His family is caught in what initially appears to be a traffic jam but rapidly devolves into civil unrest. Gerry immediately begins trying to get his family to safety – but something isn’t right. As they fight their way down the street Gerry notices that some of the people are attacking others. This is when he observes one of the crazed individuals bite another civilian. Within seconds this civilian is now attacking other civilians as he was attacked. Gerry now knows, that this is much more than just civil unrest, even though he isn’t clear on exactly what it is.
This launches the story into a chaotic scramble for basic survival and ends up putting Lane and his family right where he did not want to be. In the middle of it all. As a means to keep his family safe, Gerry agrees to once again go into service of the U.N. in order to find the source of what we learn is a world wide outbreak. Gerry, ever the reluctant hero, embarks on his mission to save the world.
Unfortunately this all felt very forced and convoluted. As it turns out the original story, World War Z doesn’t even have a Gerry Lane. In the book the story is occurring after the “Zombie Apocalypse” has ended and is the characters are giving an oral history of what had occurred. The Character Pitt portrays is “shoe-horned” in order to give the story a common thread to what is transpiring on screen and turns this into an action movie.
That is not to say the this is not an enjoyable film. Once you get past this you go on a world wide adventure along with Gerry in which we find that the stakes are very high – the fate of civilization itself. We also get into the part of the movie that makes this an action thriller – hordes and hordes of zombies. The zombies themselves look wonderful, although when they are clamoring all over each other in the wider shots it is clear that they are CGI figures. We watch along as a military unit fights to stay afloat in a sea of what they call “Zekes,” we are present for the fall of a major stronghold, and we get to watch as Gerry puts the pieces together and risks it all to get the answers he is looking for.
World War Z is a fun action movie that is well put together and provides some great visuals. It even gets in your head a bit and has you contemplating the collapse of society in a very vivid and relatable way. While this notion is frightening, I never felt that this movie was a true horror film as it was billed. The action was more fun than scary, the only character you really feel any concern for is Pitt’s and the story gets tied up in a nice little bow which makes all the perceived sacrifice seem like a waste. While this is a fun ride it often felt a little hollow, however that was not enough to overcome the enjoyment of the film. While I won’t be seeing it in theaters again, I’ll certainly pick this one up when it comes out on BluRay.
If would be difficult to imagine you have not seen the trailer yet, but on that off chance, you can have a peek at it below!