<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Marc Forster. Starring Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale, Fana Mokena, Pierfrancesco Favino
World War Z has gotten its publicity mainly for the fact that is it produced by Brad Pitt and has gone way over budget at $400 million. I’ll be an un-dead zombie if I could tell where they spent all this money.
You’ll be forgiven if you can’t tell who any of the named cast members of this film are. I didn’t either. Sure, you look at some of the faces and go: “Seen him before somewhere…” and then you wonder why this film with only one big star has cost so bloody much.
Is it the bloody zombies that charged that much? For simply running around helter-skelter, banging their noggins on doors and what have you and climbing all over each other in a CGI-generated mess of contorted bodies.
I’ve never quite understood the fascination with zombie films. Zombies are by far the worst sorts of monster/alien/villain you can use in a film. They have zero personality and filmmakers almost always never focus on them. It’s just supposed to be the hysteria and fear they instil in the human heroes. And with this production, the makers have gone all out not to focus on the zombies, the bloodshed; there’s no ripping of limps, blood spattering all over the place. The only time zombies are any good is when the movie has fun with them like they did in Zombieland.
World War Z (based on book by Max Brooks) starts off with a montage of news clips and documentary bites (no pun intended) about the planet, the ecological mess it’s in, about disease and hunger and you think you know where the film is headed. But no, they don’t follow through with the whole ‘man is ruining the planet and this will be our end’ diatribe.
There’s Brad Pitt playing a sort of UN… well UN agent called Gerry Lane; God only knows what his job actually is since they keep that part very sketchy. It’s almost like they said, “People are tired of FBI, CIA, CSI, so let’s try something different and bring the UN back, they’ve been in cinematic hibernation for long enough.”
He and his family are caught in the middle of an ‘outbreak’ of, well zombies. In no time the planet has fallen and humans take refuge on ships and any place they can find so as not to get bitten and thus infected by the zombies who will nevertheless climb on top of each other forming huge mountains of body-bridges (yes, I’ve coined that!) to get to them.
Gerry goes on a hunt for a cure or vaccine. The genius doctor who goes with him dies even before he can get off the plane in a very mysteriously shot scene. We don’t know what happens, but he trips and shoots himself with a gun he’s carrying! Just so you know, there are several sequences including the entire finale of World War Z that had to be reshot or redone with new writers (the battalion of writers on the film include Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard, Damon Lindelof, J. Michael Straczynski and Chris McQuarrie), which is what caused the budget of the film to soar. For more on that read this article: What Was Added To Brad Pitt’s Blockbuster.
I can’t see what else raised the budget. Gerry Lane’s wife played by Mireille Enos is just making beds on the ship for her kids and calling up her hubby while he cycles to airplanes – the zombies are attracted to noise – and jets around from South Korea to Israel trying to find god knows what.
“India is a black hole,” says the Israeli agent to Gerry. Funniest moment in the film, I’ll tell you.
Anyway, the problem with World War Z is that it doesn’t give us a protagonist with conviction or credibility. We don’t know why he is the saviour of humanity and every plot point seems contrived to just make the producer of the film look like a hero. The zombies are the same old thing, yes some of you may get a bit scared if you’re the skittish type, but for the most part it’s not horror nor is it a thriller. And making it in 3D was just plain stupid. Because they don’t focus on the zombies. They don’t have any jump-out-at-you moments you expect as a reward for wearing those silly glasses.
We’ve seen better films, we’ve seen movies with more CGI, we’ve seen multi-starrers, we’ve seen trilogies and better movies made with a fraction of the amount paid for this film. World War Z may float its dead bodies on the hype of Brad Pitt and the bloated budget but it is by no means a good film.