Movie Review: ‘World War Z’
The original intention for this article was to debate whether or not geeks were being too harsh on this film because of its association with the book of the same name. Halfway through the first viewing this idea was chucked out the window, and instead we’re going to focus on how World War Z manages to be both grandiose and dumb at the same time.
For those unfamiliar with the source material World War Z is a fictional novel by Max Brooks. It takes a look at the world post zombie apocalypse, reflecting with the benefit of hindsight on how the human race dealt with this Earth-shattering viral event. Cultural, political and social structures are examined, with themes ranging from religion to technology and human nature. It’s a popular read because it’s a thought provoking narrative, giving the audience a realistic sense of what may happen under the circumstances.
The movie, amid the many remakes and different people involved, feels confused as it jutters between the historical commentary and action scenes. Whenever there’s a reprieve from undead party crashers at least character will launch into a poxy monologue about mother nature being a serial killer or some shit while Brad Pitt listens intently. It has the natural flow of a barn rolling uphill. Rather than taking the multi-viewpoint approach of the novel this version follows Brad Pitt, who is a…something that worked for the UN…as he globe trots from one set piece to another while looking for a cure. It largely misses the point of the source material even as a loose adaptation. Still, perhaps it can be a good movie of its own accord.
It certainly could have been.
Some of the action scenes are good, that has to be said. A zombie outbreak on a passenger plane (which inexplicably had a zombie hiding in a cupboard) creates a terrifying couple of minutes. The problem is that whenever things start getting good the dumbness would seep back in like a viral infection. The first problem is the pseudo-science that everyone keeps banging on about. From the outset the goal is to find the source of the zombie outbreak as this will magically find them a vaccine. Why they can’t simply use one of the many infected people crawling around isn’t explained. Illogical gaps in the story and character behaviour happen frequently enough that it really distracts from what the film is trying to achieve. Then there’s the zombie hordes themselves. There must’ve been some major cuts to the special effects budget because the masses of zombies just look silly. Many times a rampaging population looks like they took a pre-programmed water effect and added a ‘people’ texture to it. As the horde bears down on the heroes in Israel they literally move like water, washing up the walls and spilling into alcoves. It really does become laughable.
This could’ve been the first global scaled zombie film but it drastically falls short. What should be armies of the undead look like second rate effects. The world-wide situation is restricted to one person. What should have been a cultural commentary becomes soft science (which is, as I write, making Doctor Funk grind her teeth).The endless routine of introducing characters just to kill them off in ‘poignant’ moments feels repetitive very quickly. If you’re not quickly at the chomping zombies during the dragged out climax then you have a higher tolerance for bad cinema. World War Z doesn’t produce the effectiveness of the novel as well as the Dawn of the Dead remake. If you want a good zombie movie there’s better out there, or you could just read the book.
This movie will likely be remembered as the one where Peter Capaldi was cast as ‘W.H.O. Doctor’.