World War Z is One of the Most Formulaic and Meaningless Zombie Films Ever Made.

Rating: * * out of five stars

Review by Luke Whitmire

world-war-z posterEx-United Nations investigator Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) traverses the world to prevent a zombie pandemic that is destroying governments, nations and humanity itself.

WWZ was initially envisioned as a trilogy, but after many troubles that imploded principle photography (especially its third act), the idea of the monolithic trilogy was shelved. Reshoots and rewrites plagued the filming process, pushing its release back from December 2012 to June of this year. Even Max Brooks (Author) was extremely miffed and disappointed at Hollywood’s handle of his best selling book from 2006.

Why would I read this? This is not the movie you’re going to make. You’re going to do rewrites and reshoots. That’s what happens when you make a giant movie. My attitude is if you haven’t invited me in to contribute, then fine. Go make the movie you want to make and I’ll see it when it comes out”, said Brooks.

Now, with all the production angst, the film never falls apart, but it revels in mundane familiarity: a fast-paced, conventional, action thriller where a reluctant hero saves the day. WWZ is a cookie-cutter story devoid of  character development, thrilling suspense, intelligent dialogue, deft action sequences and heart. Brad Pitt is the only force that carries this run-of-the-mill spectacle, but even Pitt is given little to work with.Brad Pitt - War World Z

The novel has a fragmentary nature, with multiple points-of-view that makes it a unique and fresh narrative  for the masses. Any great adaptation would include those elements, but Marc Foster (Quantum of Solace, Finding Neverland) and his writing team decided to rewrite and turn WWZ into a vacuous, pallid and episodic popcorn film. Foster directs and structures a narrative that only progresses for the soul purpose of getting to the next bombastic action sequence. We are not given enough time to get to know these characters, nor do we care about their frightening endeavors when they are forced to counteract.

World War Z Max Brooks Book

Max Brooks’ 2005 book

Brooks’ sacred tome also has a very strong geopolitical sense that the film lacks. All we get from this adaptation is an otiose four-act story, imbued with bombs, guns, screams, helicopters, airplanes and banal thrills and chills. I’m not expecting every film to inherit great depth or intellectual substance, but I do expect a film to have character development and good dialogue that makes for great escapism. Foster’s decision to abstain from the social commentary, corporate crime, in-depth look at characters and strong geopolitics makes for a somewhat empty viewing experience.

As for the zombies: These vile creatures are not slow-moving, Night of the Living Dead type. Instead they move at great speeds, driven by an insatiable, ferocious hunger to kill and move to the next human. They scamper all over each other to destroy, and pile on top of one another to get over fortified structures. As a zombie aficionado, I was not transfixed by Foster’s adaptation at all! Read the novel if you want intelligence, suspense and thrills.Brad Pitt in World War Z

Bottom line:
If you want a great zombie scare, watch The Walking Dead on AMC. And you if want classic zombies, check out George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. Also, Zack Snyder’s 2005 remake of Dawn of the Dead is fantastic. Do not waste 116min of your life watching World War Z.

Rating note: PG-13 for brief language and violence.