|Many times I've scrutinized this book from cover to cover!|
After I've read the excellent 'Zombie survival guide' by Max Brooks, it was a no brainer to get his highly anticipated follow up; 'World War Z'. The book follows a nameless interviewer, collecting and chronicling the first hand accounts of people who survived a great zombie war. Following it from the first signs, the near extinction of humanity and up to the point where the tide turns and we fight back. Epic stuff and more complex than you might think. Does that translate well to film though? The writers of the 'World War Z' movie seemed to think not. Now, why is that? Let's sink our teeth into it all and find out.
|D'aaaaw, he's so dreamy...|
It all starts out quiet enough as we meet Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), a former UN investigator and his family as they do the usual morning ritual thing; pancakes, orange juice and idle chatter. When his wife Karin and him bring their kids to school, they get caught up in chaos as the world is hit by a strange pandemic. The dead are coming back to life and viciously attack the living. Narrowly escaping the city, Gerry gets forced to travel the world to find the source of this lethal virus and possibly find a cure.
|The iconic 'Battle of Yonkers'...is not in the film.|
Now, apart from the title this movie has actually very little in common with its source material. Sure, it features one character, some lines and vaguely some situations from the novel but for the rest it is a wholly original beast. In any other case this this would be fine but not when your movie is based on arguably the best zombie novel ever written. I understand the very episodic nature of the book could not be adapted for the big screen, it certainly gave the screenwriters a run for their money and it shows. You barely get to know Pitt's character. He's a man driven to save his family. That is about it. You don't get any deeper than that. Karin Lane, his wife (Mireille Enos) is actually nothing more than the woman waiting for her man to come home.
|At least they've got this right! Shoot 'em in the head!|
There is no real depth to her and her children. The rest of the characters of the movie are barely in it. You never get the chance to get to know anyone. Prime example is Matthew Fox (Lost) playing a parajumper. A role so small, it could have been played by any other lesser known actor. So, much of the big names in this movie are pretty much wasted talent. Even the zombies have little “character” to them. You barely get time to get a look at them. They become faceless and therefore not much of real threat. It is hard to care for anyone. Also, all the reports of the behind the scenes troubles, extensive re-shoots and a completely new 3rd act written by Damon Lindelof didn't exactly help. Everyone pretty much expected this movie to bomb. Is it an unmitigated disaster then? Actually, no.
|Reminds me of riots after a soccer game.|
Despite its apparent flaws this movie actually works. It keeps its focus. Pitt's, Gerry Lane is a man on a mission and the doesn't deviate from that. No, unnecessary subplots. There are absolutely breathtaking set pieces that somewhat capture the epic nature of the novel. The massive ant-like attack of the zombies in Israel is amazing. It offers the viewer tons of amusement. Originally a PG-13 film, the newly inserted gore for the unrated cut of the film adds little to the overall story though. It is “eye candy” only. No new real scenes.
|Yay! Finally! Some gore!|
Even though the movie is a roller-coaster ride, it still remains in the back of my mind that this movie could have been a classic. It could have been for zombie/horror films what “The Dark Knight” was to superhero movies. They should have put more effort into the story and screenplay. This would have been one for the ages. If you are looking for a great zombie story on screen, you are better off on the small screen with 'The Walking Dead', the classics or some of the better, newer fare. There are already plans for a sequel. Now, I do hope they keep closer to the source material and focus on making a great zombie/horror film instead of an amusing action/thriller. It is well worth your time but they could have done so much better than this.