World War Z is based on the novel of the same name by Max Brooks, a sequel to his satirical Zombie Survival Manual. It follows Brad Pitt a former UN investigator who is tasked with finding a way to stop a zombie pandemic. Plagued by filming problems, World War Z was met with mixed, but favourable reviews and the sequel in back in progress (after being cancelled once already). World War Z looks at a zombie outbreak on a global scale, and explores many different scenarios, walled cities, zombies on planes, zombies within the army, etc. Personally I loved it, but in a break from my usual biasedness, I can see why some people didn’t like it.
Firstly, the film is very quick and frantic. It jumps literally from America to South Korea to Israel to Wales. In 2 hours. I’m pretty certain that World War Z could have been comfortably longer. It almost has a computer game feel to it because of the jumping, almost like each sequence is a level within a video game. And because of this frantic nature, it seems that wherever Gerry (Brad Pitt) goes, everything goes very wrong very quickly. Which actually gives the impression of him being a bit of a nuisance. There are also so many characters with so much potential, such as his wife, who by the second half of the film is confined to off-screen presence only appearing to make inappropriately timed calls. And because of this, many of the characters seem to make very stupid decisions, for the sake of moving the film along quickly. Gun fire is used all too commonly, conveniently creating scenes of running away from zombies. Now, I think it’s fairly established, that you don’t make noise with zombies. It’s like rule number 1. So the plotline is fuelled by moments of incredible stupidity.
The visuals in World War Z are exceptional. And this is where the overall pace of the film works very well. Particularly the scene in Israel where the zombies get over the protective wall. It’s completely terrifying how quickly it all happens, and actually from breakout to the end of the film, it’s probably about a week in real-time, which is shockingly frightening considering most of the world is infected. Upon looking back at World War Z, it’s not really a horror film, and the violence isn’t even on the same level as say The Walking Dead, it’s more of an action film, with a few intense moments, which I think works in its favour. It’s too clean-cut to be a horror film. And the moments of terror come from the impressive visuals. Seeing a town which was totally safe not 10 minutes ago literally full to the brim with fast, blood thirsty zombies is pretty impressive.
Having said all this, Brad Pitt’s character, Gerry, gives me a bit of a headache. On the one hand he’s very intelligent, intuitive and protective. He’s a decent, likeable character, but on the other hand, he’s actually totally irrelevant. Pretty much everything until the last sequence at WHO headquarters, is either caused by him, or doesn’t matter either way if he’s there or not. His character is very bland, and a bit samey. He doesn’t have a real purpose, and rarely contributes anything of any real substance to the story (like I said, with the exception of the end sequence). Which is a shame really, because Brad Pitt is probably one of my favourite actors, started out his film career as a bit of onscreen fluff to get female audiences interested (Thelma and Louise?) and has grown up, and matured into one of the best actors in modern cinema. He’s definitely a lot more capable than Gerry and I feel that he’s been done a bit of injustice having to portray such a weak character.
Nevertheless, I really enjoyed World War Z. I thought it was the right amount of action and horror, not too gory and violent, but not filled with random inexplicable action sequences. Despite the pace being a little confusing, it actually works quite well in the overall tone of the film. And despite its obvious flaws, I can’t wait for the sequel.