By Dirk Sonniksen | June 21, 2013
Director: Marc Forster:
Writer(s): Matthew Michael Carnahan (screenplay & screen story), Drew Goddard (screenplay), Damon Lindelof (screenplay), J. Michael Straczynski (screen story), Max Brooks (based on the novel by)
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, Fana Mokoena
It’s just another day in Philadelphia and Gerry (Brad Pitt) is up early making breakfast for daughters Constance (Sterling Jerins) and Rachel (Abigail Hargrove), with wife Karin (Mireille Enos) making chit-chat to help everyone through the first few scenes. Cut to downtown Philly: Gerry and family going…somewhere. Suddenly all hell breaks loose and it’s a zombie apocalypse! Your typical American family would quickly fall victim to the cravings of the undead, but this is no ordinary family, and come on, the dad is Brad Pitt! Not only that, Brad…I mean Gerry, is ex-UN, as in United Nations! You see, Gerry is no stranger to the mechanics of chaos, in fact, Gerry has kicked the ass of chaos a number of times, and while a zombie apocalypse ain’t no love-in, Gerry will make due with a gun, handmade bayonet, armor constructed from magazines, and sex appeal. Oh, he also knows a guy with a boat.
From that moment on, it’s just zombie-tastic fun, with Gerry leaving his family to noodle on a solution for this worldwide calamity. Let me point out that the key word in the previous sentence is fun. This is not a movie with deep meaning and there’s very little to take with you except perhaps that WWZ zombies are more “lively” than your Walking Dead fare and emerging victorious against them requires a bit more fortitude. My stance on World War Z is a departure as I normally like a bit of story, but what makes this film entertaining is its quick pace and the lack of long-winded monologues and painful reaction shots. Director Marc Forster’s goal for World War Z is to keep the audience on the edge of their seats and he succeeds for the most part.
As for actors, Brad Pitt is the perfect middle-of-the-road-I-don’t-love-you-but-I-don’t-hate-you kind of guy for this film. Pitt always seems to pull through with a performance that kicks the film quality up a notch, but doesn’t saturate your movie with too much celebrity, or his goatee. The rest of the cast does admirable work, but really are just incidentals as there is no character development in World War Z. Apart from Pitt, the best performance goes to the zombie guy that corners Gerry toward the end of the film—you sir do great zombie faces and the teeth clicking was spot-on!
Visually World War Z is pretty standard stuff for its genre, with plenty o’ CGI and a lot of fast shots. As I mentioned earlier, the winning aspect of this film is its quick pace, so you’re not going to get any long, lush, scenic shots with actors sobbing on the edge of a cliff somewhere, thankfully. Some of the most entertaining cinematography in World War Z is of the computer-generated variety and features (prominently) zombies falling from walls, buildings, helicopters, planes—you get the picture.
I have not read World War Z by Max Brooks, but from my wanderings I gather that Marc Forster’s film is super-loosely based on that novel. A fair amount of criticism has been aimed at Forster’s deviation from the book, particularly the ending, but with no personal knowledge of Brooks’ literary merits, I cannot comment, although I will now be reading World War Z. That said, Forster managed to craft a film that accomplishes the goal of the summer blockbuster—to entertain. World War Z will not win any awards and may have been just another paycheck for Pitt, but if you like a good zombie flick, this one should do just fine, keeping you satiated until the next season of The Walking Dead.