World War Z.
A few years ago, I read the book by Max Brooks, that this movie is loosely based on. It was hard to imagine a film following the same structure, so I was curious when it was announced that Brad Pitt was starring in the film version. So does the movie succeed, when the market is already flooded with zombie flicks? Or will it be a forgettable entry into the genre?
Brad Pitt stars as Gerry, a former United Nations officer who had many experiences in crazy war-torn areas during his time. Now, he’s on the streets of Philadelphia with his family when (within the first 5 minutes of the movie), a zombie apocalypse strikes the city. After escaping harm, he then goes on a globe-trotting adventure to find the source of the disease and a potential cure.
Luckily, this movie brings things to the table that other recent zombie entries have lacked. This isn’t about a few survivors trying to make it by on what they have. This is about the government. This is about entire cities being destroyed. The scope of this zombie movie is beyond anything I can think of, off the top of my head. It’s almost like what was happening during those other movies. Before Zombieland begins or while the survivors are holded up in the mall in Dawn of the Dead, it’s possible that global events like these are occurring simultaneously. But we haven’t really seen them before, so watching zombies crash like a wave through these major cities is fascinating.
Pitt is perfect here, as he’s badass enough to survive, but he’s not a balls-to-the-wall hero that is leaping into danger. He’s got a family and he never forgets that, adding a depth that our heroes often lack.
Most of the movie is action-packed, full of chases and explosions and global catastrophe, but the highlight of the film was the final encounter, which relies much more on traditional uses of zombies. The final zombie scene, which is a substantial amount of the movie, is incredibly suspenseful and the audience was constantly gasping and even uttering out loud phrases like “Oh, no…”, forgetting that they’re in a theater. It’s immersive and one of the best examples of suspense in recent history.
Now, is this movie like Brooks’ book? At all? Yes. The story is pretty much the same, but it’s told currently instead of a retrospective. The book is a series of interviews about how the apocalypse happened and how they defeated them. Here, we see it first-hand. It makes a much more intense and action-oriented film but lost some of that sense of realism that came from the interview format. The movie ends though with the potential for sequels, as it hints at events happening around the world, that could be entire movies by themselves.
What doesn’t work?
The CGI is a little too much during portions of the film. The worst, and the scenes most frequently shown in trailers, take place in Israel. This is where the zombies look like a flood of bodies and the CGI looks incredible but not real whatsoever. Cool, yes, but a definite moment of suspension of disbelief.
This was a fun movie, nearly nonstop action throughout. The zombies were refreshingly unique though the CGI often worked against the movie in the more massive scenes. Pitt is perfect and the movie will be sure to both have you on the edge of your seat during the action and also holding your breath during the terrifying moments of silence. The balance is near perfect. The ending is a little open-ended as it shows you a global perspective, so it lacks a big punch, but possible sequels could be really cool.