WORLD WAR Z (review)
WORLD WAR Z
Written by Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard and Damon Lindelof
Directed by Marc Forster
Starring Brad Pitt and Mireille Enos
Andrew Fassbach: Mother Nature is a serial killer, but like all serial killers, she wants to get caught.
Visually, WORLD WAR Z, is terrifying. This zombie apocalypse is worse than I ever imagined, not that I spend all that much time imagining an actual zombie apocalypse. Gone are the days when zombies slowly shuffled about in hopes on feasting on any brains they could get their undead hands on. Now, the zombie is determined and aggressive and even organized. If only director, Marc Forster, had applied the same passion to making WORLD WAR Z. Perhaps then, he might have brought some much needed vitality to this lifeless experience.
The WORLD WAR Z production was plagued with a number of problems, the most famous of which was the very public conflict between Forster and his star (and producer), Brad Pitt. They disagreed on the ultimate direction of the film and the ending was eventually reshot without Forster. Unfortunately for all, these issues can be felt throughout the film. The completely unnecessary and fully distracting transfer to 3D doesn’t help either.
The trouble is there is just not enough meat for anyone, undead or otherwise, to chew on. WORLD WAR Z opens with a very obvious montage about the world’s problems and how they will be the death of us. We are then introduced to Pitt’s Gerry Lane and his loving family, including two adorable daughters, and a supportive wife (Mireille Enos, who is consistently underused in her film roles). All we need to know about them, we learn in this introduction. Daddy stays at home because his job, undefined at the time, was too much for him and for his family to take.
There isn’t even time to drop the girls off at school before the zombie outbreak unleashes itself upon the planet. And so, not but ten minutes in, WORLD WAR Z becomes about running away. Gerry and his family eventually make their way to an aircraft carrier in the ocean, where we learn that Gerry is somehow the only guy left on Earth who can fix this problem. He’s not a scientist or anything like that. He is just the greatest military operator who ever lived apparently. He has to help the army find a cure or he and his family will be cast off the ship and back to the hungry zombies waiting ashore.
This is the extent of the emotional conflict in the film. He doesn’t want to help but has to; his wife doesn’t want him to go but has to accept it. Will they ever see each other again? Will Gerry save the world from the zombie plague? Sadly, Forster didn’t get me to care about either one of these questions. Subsequently, Pitt’s plan to come off to audiences as the ultimate savior of humanity, comes off more as forced and false. I’m sure this is a far cry from what Pitt had in mind when he embarked on this particularly grueling war.
WORLD WAR Z feels choppy while Pitt travels from place to place in search of clues. It often feels as though something is missing, like there has to be more to this than just narrowly escaping the zombies over and over again. The action itself is also fairly chaotic. One could argue that Forster is striving for a particularly jarring aesthetic, as an actual zombie apocalypse would likely be pretty jarring. One could also argue though that the visual style is possibly in place to mask Forster’s ability, or lack thereof, to cut a convincing action sequence together. Either way, it doesn’t always work and the action sometimes lands quite flatly as a result.
This brings us to the end of WORLD WAR Z, or rather the supposedly best ending they could salvage from what Forster put together to begin with. I won’t say what happens in the end but I will say that it is completely anticlimactic. One moment, the film is loud and raucous, the next it gets very quiet, and then it’s suddenly done. And so, a once promising zombie movie ends up as rather mindless affair.
How many sheep would you give World War Z?