June 21, 2013
Matthew Michael Carnahan (screenplay) (screen story), Drew Goddard (screenplay), Damon Lindelof (screenplay), J. Michael Straczynski (screen story), Max Brooks (based on the novel by)
Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane
Mireille Enos as Karin Lane
Daniella Kertesz as Segen
James Badge Dale as Captain Speke
Sterling Jerins as Constance Lane
Abigail Hargrove as Rachel Lane
World War Z is based, albeit loosely, on the Max Brooks novel of the same name. Those who read the Brooks work will immediately recognize that instead of the tomb’s focus on the post-apocalypse and vignettes of individual triumphs and tragedies as the zombie outbreak unfolds, the film is more focused on the beginning stages of the outbreak and the crumbling of civilization.
Brad Pitt plays Gerry Lane, a United Nations agent with a history of surviving in unruly circumstances. At the moment that an unexplained outbreak of zombie mayhem begins, Lane is playing retired father who left his life of danger and excitement behind in favor of spending time with his lovely wife Karen (Mireille Enos) and daughters Rachel and Constance (Abigail Hargrove and Sterling Jerins). The anarchy comes quickly in Philadelphia, and in a matter of hours, awkward-moving and very fast zombies overrun the entire city. Through the unfolding of the disaster, and along the journey of Gerry being recruited by the UN again to find “ground zero” of the outbreak and discover the core of a cure or defense, the attention to detail and problem solving that Gerry has figures out many of the details of the outbreak including how many seconds it takes before a bitten victim turns. Gerry Lane also discovers that getting infected blood in one’s mouth does not cause the turn, and that quickly cutting off a bitten limb can stop the turning in it’s tracks. Will the deductive reasoning of Gerry Lane uncover a way to save the human race?
World War Z is exciting and fun – this film is exactly as one would expect it to be considering the casting of Brad Pitt in the lead role and the heavy CGI zombies viewed in numerous previews and trailers released in the months before the film hit theaters. The scenes are big with massive aerial shots of major cities overrun by zombies, helicopter and plane crashes, and lots of shooting and things blowing up. Gerry Lane is quite the indestructible action hero as well, surviving scenario after scenario that would spell certain death for any normal mortal on earth. The zombies do not seem so interested in eating human flesh really, but are more concerned with chasing down and biting the living to increase their numbers… a very different view of a zombie pandemic than those seen in most zombie classics from the masters George A. Romero or Lucio Fulci.
What World War Z is not, really, is a horror movie. This is a pretty standard big-budget big-effect Armageddon movie that happens to have zombies as the vehicle for the end of civilization instead of tidal waves or giant ants. These zombies are not the kind of monster zombies that many of us have come to know and love, but instead really act more like human-sized viruses themselves seeking out a takeover of other human bodies to propagate themselves just as a virus does to a single cell. Effectively, in World War Z the world gets sick. I love “end of the world” movies, so World War Z is just fine and dandy… but I also like horror movies, and this one just doesn’t cut it in that department…. The film has more in common with The Transformers than Night of the Living Dead.
World War Z is exciting and fun, and those who like to see icons of civilization destroyed on film and the effects of complete anarchy after society collapses will love the film… if they can let go of any hope that this would resemble a zombie horror movie. Those in the second camp intent on seeing a horror film, or even a film that very closely brings the beloved novel “World War Z” to life, are destined to be disappointed.