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World War Z Review

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Because there isn’t any sort of interesting idea that can’t be run into the ground, zombie movies are a dime a dozen. It’s not just movies either, zombies have invaded every part of pop culture and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to stop in the near future. Arguably one of the better zombie stories, World War Z by Max Brooks (yes, he’s Mel Brooks’s son) has long deserved a visual adaptation and it’s finally upon us after numerous rewrites and reshoots, is it even possible for this Brad Pitt movie to do the novel or the subject matter justice?

I’ll be honest here, I am a huge fan of the World War Z novel and ever since we first hear about news of the World War Z movie and what they were doing with it, I was under the constant impression that it was going to be utter garbage. It’s not even that I get bothered when adapted stories are changed, I enjoy the Wanted movie and comic on equal footing and the direction the film took is such a departure from the source material. There are plenty of elements you can change, but you have to retain the core ideas of the story otherwise there is little reason to bother calling it by the same name.

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That being said, World War Z is not the useless waste of talent and money I expected, but it’s also not a great movie. So if you’re just here to see Brad Pitt do his thing, you’re better off watching this than Tree of Life. This has him playing Gerry Lane, a character whose occupation is a spoiler, or at least the movie seems to think so. It attempts to build up to the obvious zombie apocalypse slowly, but is edited in such a strange way that while most of the scenes in the first act are interesting, the structure of them makes them seem so inconsequential and meaningless.

The second act doesn’t turn out much better and is filled with plenty of obviously CG zombie shots like the ones that fill the trailer. There are also some interesting nuggets of ideas sprinkled throughout, but they are completely overshadowed by the strangest zombie behavior and movement, in a way not only unlike the book, but unlike any zombie stories, that make the entire point of them being zombies useless. Throw any expectation of characters to use common sense besides Brad Pitt, though even he has his moments in one particular scene.

Then, seemingly out of the blue, the movie slows down for a surprisingly interesting final act. Even though the ultimate resolution to the movie seems to somewhat fly in the face of what the book was trying to accomplish, it also fits in its own weird way. It does highlight what makes this version of zombies so weird, but there is so much good story and situations throughout that you don’t mind. Unfortunately it’s not good enough to erase the first two borderline awful acts.

There has been extensive news of the rewrites and reshoots that World War Z went through and they finally came out and said what Damon Lindelof and Drew Goddard came in and did. If the scenes detailed are the only things they changes, they’re almost all of what was interesting or actually good in the movie. Which begs the question, if this was in such bad shape beforehand that even these changes can’t save the movie, who even greenlit this awful original script in the first place?

World War Z is such a borderline trainwreck that when it actually stops to be a good movie, it’s jarring. Brad Pitt is clearly only here to motivate at least somewhat of an audience to see this movie, so it’s a shame it couldn’t be in better shape. This is the type of movie you should ignore in theaters and check out later down the road when you can do it for cheaper, but it’s not one you should skip entirely. It’s also a sad state of affairs that this is one of the better zombie movies that isn’t a comedy in recent memory. Maybe it’s finally time to step away.

Rating Banner 2-5

In Theaters: June 21, 2013
Runtime: 116 min
Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense frightening zombie sequences, violence and disturbing images.
Director: Mark Forster
Cast: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz
Genre: Action, Drama, Horror
Distributor: Paramount
Official Site: http://www.worldwarzmovie.com/

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Co-Founder of Geekenstein Media. Consumer of media, writer, accountant. David spends his time taking in as much media as possible when he's not wondering why more people aren't talking about pinball.

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  • Dan O’Neill

    Good review David. Had a good time with the action and tension, but the story was dry and left plenty to be desired. Plenty.

    • David_Rhinehart

      I don’t mind that it deviated from the book, but even then the resulting plot still wasn’t good.