Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Genre: Action, Horror
Run Time: 1 hour, 56 minutes, Rated PG-13
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, Matthew Fox, David Morse, Pierfrancesco Favino
Directed by Marc Forster (Machine Gun Preacher, Quantum of Solace, The Kite Runner, Finding Neverland, Monster's Ball)
What is going on with scripts these days? On the heels of the disappointing Man of Steel script comes another softball lobbed from Hollywood and right into multiplex theaters across the country. World War Z (opening today) gets off to a running start, but it quickly stumbles when laughable plot inaccuracies begin to collide head-first with under-developed characters and ideas.
The premise is simple enough: The zombie apocalypse is upon us. Brad Pitt plays Gerry Lane, a husband to his wife, Karin (Mireille Enos), and father of two girls. He of course is an ex-military guy who begrudgingly is dragged back into the action.
The zombie plague hits suddenly and seemingly without warning. The zombies of World War Z are its best commodity, as these are not the slow, meandering type of walkers as seen in shows like The Walking Dead, or heck, any other zombie movie ever. Rather, these zombies run full-speed ahead in a feverish frenzy, often on top of or over other zombies towards their living prey. They may be brainless, but you better act fast if you're going to survive in this dismal universe.
The film opens as Pitt makes pancakes for his children and then they get into the car. Caught in traffic, the zombie apocalypse suddenly happens and Pitt is quickly forced on the run as he tries desperately to protect his family. Just as quick as it started, we cut to a scene...and it's night time. Wait, didn't they just get done eating pancakes? Never mind, probably just a small continuity oversight.
If only that were the case. These kind of no-brain mistakes plague World War Z. Take another example, when a phone that Brad Pitt is using to communicate with his family runs out of batteries. Quite literally five minutes later, the phone is being used to make several other important phone calls. Can even dead phones be resurrected during the zombie apocalypse?
Then Brad Pitt boards a commercial jet as it takes off on the runway. I understand times are tough for the airlines, but really? A flight just so happens to be taking off in the middle of the zombie madness? There are few places in the world at this point where humans are gathering in safety, just exactly where did this plane intend on landing? How and why are the passengers on-board taking naps and reading newspapers like it was any average day? And how...the...hell...does someone overlook that zombie in the stewardess's closet?
This kind of nonsensical crap is insulting to me, and it should be to you to. Is it so hard for a movie to at least make sense within its own set of rules? Just like Superman lazily getting his suit handed to him on an ancient alien ship that happens to carry on it the "essence" of his dead dad, World War Z just shuffles past simple plot points in hopes that its audience is just as dumb as its antagonists.
It's usually never a good sign when others are called in to re-work a script, as this screenplay was. Original scripted by Matthew Michael Carnahan, Damon Lindelof (Lost) and Drew Goddard (Lost, The Cabin in the Woods) were brought on board to re-write the film's third act. Tonally, you can see the abrupt shift when Lindelof and Goddard take over the story in World War Z. What had been a loud, large-scale action-adventure becomes a dark and personal thriller of sorts. Instead of focusing on the global impact the zombie plague has created, it shifts to dimly-lit hallways as Pitt and others attempt to outsmart a handful of zombies in their search for something that may help humanity in its battle against the monsters.
This last portion works slightly better than the first two-thirds, but it still offers nothing new. The Walking Deadseems to work because we care about the characters at stake, a key ingredient missing from World War Z.
Like Man of Steel, World War Z seems to only be setting up future installments where more money can be drained from the pockets of the willing zombies who carelessly drag their legs into theater seats. There may or may not be a cure for zombies, but there is a cure for this flood of crap that seeps its way into our lives: Don't pay for this sort of nonsense. Sadly, it may be too late for mankind in this regard.
But take a cue from the zombies of World War Z and run, don't walk, away from this mindless, insulting corpse of a film.
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