I’ll admit, the words ‘zombie’ and ‘Brad Pitt’ in the same sentence is just plain weird. But end of the world movies have always been a guilty pleasure of mine so I was fully ready to embrace the weird this time around.
Despite feelings that the zombie subgenre is a little worn out, and whilst I was not sold on the trailer, nor the casting (again; Brad Pitt in a zombie flick?!), a little voice at the back of my head insisted I give it a chance: Pitt’s company, Plan B Entertainment, rarely produces substandard work.
WORLD WAR Z follows United Nations rep Gerry Lane (Pitt) as he traverses the globe in a race against time to pin point the origin of a ‘zombie’ pandemic sweeping the world faster than you can say “Jack Robinson”.
Zombies are incredibly ‘over done’ of late, and while the odd film can still advance the genre (28 DAYS LATER, SHAUN OF THE DEAD and WARM BODIES spring to mind) there are few places previous serious undead flicks haven’t already been.
Perhaps Director Marc Forster and the various screenwriters were aware of this and, kudos to them, they waste no time with pointless exposition. They get straight down to it, with the undead charging at us within the first five minutes in an intense opening sequence.
WORLD WAR Z is also refreshing via it’s focus on a central character with the power to potentially do something about the pandemic, rather than the common approach of following the helpless proles on the street.
As a viewer, you are kept suitably intrigued as you notice the handsome Pitt noticing something of significance – yet you’re not always quite sure what you noticed him noticing….(you still with me?)
Part of the fun is trying to pick up on, and suss out the clues to the pandemic mystery yourself. Avoid conversation with anyone who sees the flick before you; admittedly the film would not be nearly as engaging if you knew the band-aid solution they come up with.
Similar to I AM LEGEND, they opt for the highly agile super-human zombies rather than the traditional stumbling slow-pokes. However, WORLD WAR Z zombies have a hungry desperation on an extreme level I’ve not seen before. They will stop at nothing to get a fresh bite: head butting through car windscreens is a standard part of their dinner routine.
In short: it’s freakin’ scary. I had full on a cardio vascular workout that’s for sure.
In my usual over analytical form, the inclusion of Israel and their great wall left me divided. Whilst I like the juxtaposition of the U.S forces (who were offering zero welcome to non military/governmental personnel in their safe zones) to Israel (who were letting anyone and everyone in), the potential social/political comment of Jews vs Muslims and the Western involvement in Israel left me a little unsure.
I’m all for art passing bold comments, but I’m not quite certain what is being said here… Perhaps nothing…. But it doesn’t appear that way.
Another small gripe: Whilst Pitt does a good job (as always), there is no character arc – he undergoes no internal change or struggle. The focus is purely on him fighting for survival. Though one-dimensional, the film is so much of a thrill ride I admit this can be easily forgiven.
All end of the world movies suffer from the conclusion curse; there is just no satisfying finale to such scenarios. If they don’t save the world, we feel duped. If they do suddenly save the world, we still feel duped.
Word has it Forster and co. were well aware of this, with a new ending reshot after completion. The result is as satisfying as it can be. As always, it feels like a bit of an anticlimax, yet it’s far from the worst zombie movie ending I’ve seen.
WORLD WAR Z is far from revolutionary. While there are some inspired moments and clever ideas, it doesn’t exactly explore avenues other zombie films haven’t already. However, it’s fast paced, thrilling, scary, action-packed, intense and a whole lot fun. WORLD WAR Z: I shat my pants!
I rate it 6 stars.