Monday, July 08, 2013

World War Z (movie) Review

Recommendation: Harmless Fun, But Nothing Special

As a fan of Max Brooks' novel World War Z, I’ve been keeping an eye on the production of this adaptation for some time. There was some initial excitement with news that J Michael Straczynski would be writing, and some good buzz surrounding early drafts of his script. Unfortunately that all died quickly with news of numerous rewrites by other authors, and more and more departures from the source material became apparent. The final result is a generic 28 days later knockoff who's only common feature with the novel is it's title.

The film's story (such as it is) consists of a retired United Nations investigator, called back into action during a sudden zombie apocalypse. His mission is to scour the world in search of patient zero, in hopes of developing a cure. Various world locations under siege are showcased, where bits of plot are exposited until it's time for the next chase scene. Eventually the story reaches an ending that almost redeems the entire film, but more on that at the end.

Brad Pitt plays the investigator, who is so undeveloped as a character that I can't even remember his name. He has a family who does basically nothing after the first act, then disappears entirely after the second, and is even less interesting than he is. The fact is that none of the characters in this film are memorable or interesting enough to be remembered after they've served their plot-purpose and either died or just disappeared.

Honestly, the best thing about WWZ (the movie) is it's action, which is to say that it's adequate and fun, but not much more. It manages a few effective jump scares, and even some actual suspense in it's quieter moments. One thing that I found interesting was an oddly conspicuous lack of blood or gore anywhere to be seen. That's not to say that a Walking Dead level of blood 'n guts is necessary, but this actually gets awkward at times. All the major violence happens just off screen such that it's not always clear what's going on, and what is shown is almost completely bloodless. But again, at the least it's never boring.

All said and done, the film World War Z is a generic 28 Days Later clone that delivers adequately at that level, but no more than that. It's a fun enough action move, and there are worse ways to spend a summer afternoon.

As to the merits of this movie as an adaptation of the book: there are none.

The one thing I wanted to address separately about this movie was the ending, as it's really only thing that really stands out. That's because it is so highlariously stupid yet played with such grave seriousness that it almost redeems the entire film. To say that World War Z jumps the shark in it's third act would be an insult to shark jumpers throughout history. I won't spoil it, but suffice to say that anyone with an affinity for bad movies will be at least somewhat rewarded for sitting through the generic apocalypse.

If anyone is interested in a second opinion, I recommend Confused Matthew's video review.

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