Having heard good things about the book but seeing rubbery mountains of zombies in the trailer, I went into World War Z truly at neutral; I guess these various bits of input cancelled each other out. Thankfully, “Neutral” is where I try to be when seeing a movie, anyway, and WWZ was enjoyable… for the most part. Unfortunately, much of its ground has been covered before.
It boasts great acting all around, but WWZ focuses on Brad Pitt as we experience the events through his character, United Nations ex-employee Gerry Lane. Much of the movie is genuinely intense and well-done. It treats what could be a silly subject with all the heft of an actual news event, or documentary. But the rubbery-looking masses of zombies don’t help in that regard; perhaps it was best to show that in the trailer so you know it’s coming? A better idea might have been to fix it before release, since some of the zombie effects elicit laughter instead of inducing fear. Then again, maybe some of the zombiesque ticks were purposefully there, and subject to interpretation to allow the audience a tiny bit of comic relief in an otherwise pretty tense flick.
Other stumbles include Brad Pitt’s family being supposedly in danger..! Only to be found perfectly safe, thank you very much. There were also some pretty weak explanations for a walled-off Israel and the history behind their being so prepared. The reasons given for their taking seriously an early-warning email are slim at best, as is why zombies finally make their way over their impressive defenses (as though zombies never heard anything else that caught their attention, before).
Much of accepted zombie lore is on display here (zombies being attracted to sound, bites spread the infection, quickly cutting off a limb after it’s been bitten may save the host body, etc.). But there are enough new elements in the mix to keep things fresh, even when dealing with the undead (Ho HO! See what I did there?). WWZ continues in the vein of movies whose origins of the Main Threat are unclear; we never know how or why the zombie disease began. But I guess that’s one of the many rea$ons it is so obviously set up for a sequel.
But other than a bit of last-minute spectacle in the form of news footage documenting humanity’s various violent responses to the zombie threat, the ending is a bit mild compared to the 110 minutes of tense movie that preceded it. Still, Wolrd War Z is 116 minutes of first-rate thrilling set up, even with its weaknesses.
Overall Score for “World War Z” from Rich Bonaduce: B-
“World War Z” is rated PG-13 for intense frightening zombie sequences, unintentionally funny zombie antics, violence and disturbing images
Directed by: Marc Forster
Written by: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard) and Damon Lindelof (screenplay);
Matthew Michael Carnahan and J. Michael Straczynski (screen story);
Max Brooks (based on the novel by)