Director: Marc Forster
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos and Daniella Kertesz
Review Written By: Michael Dalton (Prime Minister)
World War Z focuses on ex-Un employee Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) who is torn from his family by the U.S. government in order to go on a mission to uncover the origins of the zombie outbreak tearing the world apart. Venturing from South Korea to Israel and ultimately Wales, Lane must race against time in order to find a way in which humanity can survive. World War Z is an incredibly stupid and cheesy film, however it is not without its great moments and ideas. The film is far from the disaster many predicted, however it is also far from the promise that resided in the pages of Max Brooks’ book, the title of which is pretty much all that is in common with this ‘adaptation’
The film begins with a montage establishing the ominous early signs through a series of news reports, set to Muse’s ‘Isolated System’ (Which in essence becomes this film’s theme song) While a cool idea the execution is rather lacking, with some rushed, confused dialogue about dolphins and the utilization of Piers Morgan (When his face appeared, I began to fear the worst…) The film then proceeds to set-up Brad Pitt and his happy family, with some of the most forced, clichéd and clunky dialogue you’ll see all year to establish that while Brad Pitt may be cooking pancakes for breakfast now, he used to do something very important. The family subplot in this film makes the one in Moneyball seem integral and artful. The script on a whole makes some of the poorer dialogue from Man of Steel look like Shakespeare. The dialogue is at times borderline embarrassing and unintentionally amusing, if not downright infuriating as late in the third act we have characters literally and unnecessarily explaining to us everything that Brad Pitt is doing…WE CAN SEE HIM DOING IT AS WELL! The script however does avoid cliché in regards to setting, with it not visiting the conventional locations for a film of this sort, although to be honest the section set in South Korea could have been shot anywhere.
There are many small moments in the film’s first act that reminded me of Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds and made me realize how much I actually liked that film. In the early scenes it appears as if the film may explore the uglier side of humanity as it seeks to protect itself, however like all the interesting ideas in the film it is quickly forgotten in order to prioritize something much more generic. Another instance of this is the exploration of how different countries have responded to the outbreak. North Korea is pulling out teeth, Israel is putting up walls and…that’s it. Potential political satire, wasted.
The film seems to exist in a strange purgatory between being an action film and being a horror film. In the second act as we go from action sequence to action sequence, the film lacks any tension and is about as soulless as its zombies. It then proceeds to become as brainless as its zombies, with some incredibly stupid moments. A death scene comes to mind that seems like a joke from a Tarantino film, think ‘Oh no I just shot Marvin in the face’ from Pulp Fiction.
It is when the film is being a horror movie that it is in its element and at its best. The second act, epic-scale, globetrotting action stuff is arguably a mistreatment of the zombie genre and premise. As Quantum of Solace demonstrated, Marc Forster does not appear to be adept at handling such material and both him and the sub-genre that this film is technically within, felt uncomfortable in such surroundings.
When the film humbles itself and heads to Wales for its third act, is when the fun really begins. It was in this movement of the film, when it became much more of a survival horror film, that I found myself incredibly tense and engaged. Forster builds the tension beautifully, with all the sneaking around and attempts to minimize sound building an incredibly unsettling yet, if you’re a fan of the genre, enjoyable atmosphere for the viewer. This entire act of the movie was better than anything that came before it and ensured that the film ended on a high, even if the casting of Malcolm Tucker himself, Peter Capaldi, in a very minor role was rather distracting and ultimately pointless.
While Forster and co. handle the horror elements surprisingly well, the zombies themselves leave much to be desired, and not in a good way. The CGI zombie hordes in the big action sequences work fine for what they are, however it demonstrates devolution of the creature in an attempt at evolution. They became anonymous, destructive forces, which just serve as canon fodder to run away from and shoot. When the way in which this film treats zombies is taken into a smaller scale, it becomes incredibly jarring and it is perhaps the only element of the film which is at its best, when it’s at its biggest. The zombies in this film drew mass laughter from my audience and I am sure it was not intentional. They act like drugged-up, drunken back-up dancers and in the quieter, more horror inflicted movements of the film, I can’t help but wish they had gone back to a more traditional visual interpretation of the zombie.
Brad Pitt carries the film well, although this isn’t a film that asks much of him other than to sell some clunky dialogue and make us believe in him. It’s a role that required a star but not a star performance. Ultimately World War Z is not a terrible film and there are great ideas and movements buried underneath a rather stupid, cheesy and overblown film. It is at its best when it is being a horror film and at its worst when it is being an action film. The script is terrible, the direction wavers and the cast is serviceable. The strength of its third act, smaller, subtler moments in its first act and the ideas that while not fully exploited, were present, ever so slightly elevated this film.
Final note, the 3D is non-existent and purely there in a desperate attempt by Paramount to cover their losses.
Rating: MINORITY GOVERNMENT (What does this mean?)
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister,
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