Directed by: Marc Forster
Starring: Brad Pitt
Much has been made of the behind the scenes drama that occurred while trying to get world War Z finished. Basically the original version of the film fell apart at the end in a way that no one could let go to theaters. So, a great deal of money was spent to re-write and re-shoot the ending. These sorts of problems could equate to a weak film to begin with or they could be a very positive thing. The attention being paid to getting the ending right could mean that the studio actually cared about telling a good story. Imagine that!
The movie in name and basic elements only is refers to a novel written by Max Brooks. I have heard it said that the film is more of a story existing within the world crafted within the pages of the novel. That description (excuse) doesn’t jive because the character in the book is the main character in the film and many of the core events he goes through are represented in the film too. What happened here is the filmmakers took a ton of creative license with the basest concepts of the novel. This begins to shine a light on the problems with this film. The first problem is that so many things have been changed in this story that fans of the novel are going to be nonplussed at best. Problem two is with Brad Pitt himself. He actually does his usual great work in this film but he plays the character as the filmmakers meant the character to be played, not as a super hero but as an experienced investigator trying to get answers. Even when some answers are staring him in the face he has to later be slapped with those answers to see them. In other words, his character is a human being in a world gone mad. The third problem here is that this is not a zombie movie even if it sort of looks like one. Oh yes there are zombies but zombie movie fans looking for the typical formula which includes a heavy amount of gore will be disappointed. Most of the zombie kills are handled with simple gun shots and the more edgy kills are handled off screen. So, the film is just not going to please a huge segment of the film going masses based on these problems.
I along with a huge number of other fans though actually liked this movie quite a bit. When it comes to the book, well I don’t have an answer there because I haven’t read it. The filmmakers apparently missed a great opportunity because the word is that the book is fantastic. I felt similar to these fans when I saw the Will Smith film version of I. Robot. That book was so disrespected by the film that hit Cineplex’s. As far as this not being a blood and guts zombie gore fest? Anyone that expected Hollywood to do a hard R multimillion dollar summer tent pole movie featuring an actor most beloved by women is in need of mental help. This film isn’t a zombie movie; it’s an adventure procedural set within a world filled with zombies. Now from that perspective World War Z is innovative and fresh. I love the old school zombie gore fest and I can’t wait for The Walking Dead to come back on AMC and I have many other options for that genre. Finally Pitt is a much more adventurous actor than just the funny super hero from Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Ocean’s 11. Does anyone remember films like 12 Monkeys? Pitt is fantastic in this film as he is in most of his films. He’s a family man first and he does what he must to protect his family.
Word War Z is a globe hopping adventure that mixes some action and well done suspense. The real problems of the film come in the form of a couple of leaps of logic and one element that’s just way too telegraphed (not as bad as the tribble in Star Trek Into Darkness though). Overall the action is edge of your seat stuff; the suspense is well, suspenseful without reliance on gore for effect, and the special fx are pretty great for the most part. Is World War Z a classic? Not a chance. Is the film a fun bit of summer escapism that doesn’t make you feel like you burned brain cells for watching it? Absolutely. Go see it and have fun, the audience I saw it with applauded at the end.