World War Z is a thrilling, summer popcorn film. Brad Pitt, despite being very comfortable in the role, is very believable in the character of a retired military negotiator forced to leave his family and attend to the most important mission in his life: finding a way for the human race to beat a new plague that turns most of the population into the worst sort of zombie: angry, fast, and undead. If you have a weak stomach, this probably isn’t the film for you as the gore level straddles the line between what the MPAA would give PG-13 and R ratings.
That might sound like the sweetest sound to a zombie lover, especially since all the parts to a great zombie story are in place: the initial outbreak experience, the up close terrifying encounters that the main characters barely escape, the apartment complex stairwell attack, the looting of a grocery store, the hospital scenes, the military base that’s been cut off from the rest of the world, the politicians making difficult decisions, the infection of a character, the moral dilemmas, etc. These aren’t spoilers, these are zombie film archetypes that we’ve come to love and expect. Not every little thing is exactly what you’d expect here, but World War Z delivers in this regard.
Unfortunately, the film is all exposition and archetypes without the exciting plot and character development that should have followed. I expected this going into the film and so I wasn’t disappointed until the credits started rolling. I started wishing they had turned this into a mini series like Band of Brothers instead of a feature film. Perhaps that opportunity is still available for those who own the film and tv rights to the Max Brooks book.
As a side note, for those who’ve read the book World War Z, this film is based off the universe from the book. I think it would have made a far better, more accessible film if the screenwriters had followed the organization and plot structure of the book. I do understand that those making the film were interested in making a simple summer blockbuster, not a complex winter academy award winning film, and thus created what they did.
Overall it isn’t bad, and I’d give it a solid 8.1/10, and the cinematography is good enough to make it worth the price of admission in the theater. While World War Z never reaches the level of success that Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later had in pulling everything together into a very slick story, it is worth seeing. If you’re not a huge zombie fan, it’s probably a rental. If you do enjoy a zombie film here or there, you’ll probably enjoy this film more than I did.