"World War Z"
Release Date: June 21, 2013
Running Time: 116 minutes
World War Z may share a title with the 2006 best-seller by Max Brooks but Brad Pitt’s $200 million horror epic owes more to Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later and its sequel rather than Brooks’ reportedly unfilmable collection of eye-witness accounts of a zombie apocalypse. World War Z is 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later on a global scale, with no expense spared by producer Pitt and director Marc Foster. Unlike 28 Days Later, which saw a virus that turned the living infected into homicidal maniacs, World War Z finds Pitt battling the undead in an effort save humanity from distinction. He plays a United Nations investigator tasked with flying across the world to find Patient Zero as part of the effort to manufacture a vaccine to combat the zombie plague. Much of the publicity surrounding World War Z has focused on Paramount’s decision to pour millions into overhauling its third act, which resulted in the film missing its original December 2012 release date. Written by The Kingdom’s Matthew Michael Carnahan, World War Z’s script problems are glaring from start to finish, even after being reworked by The Cabin in the Woods’ Drew Goddard and Lost’s Damon Lindelof. Pitt’s surrounded by characters we don’t get to know or care about, and that includes the wife (The Killing’s Mireille Enos) and children he’s left in the presumably safe hands of his U.N. bosses. Pitt’s U.N. investigator merely exists for us to see the world collapse into ruin, and Pitt brings zero energy and curiosity to the role. No one expects zombies to have much in the way of personality, but the undead in World War Z seem particularly nondescript and aren’t very scary. With the exception of Israel, the countries Pitt travels to appear to be randomly chosen to pander to international audiences. The information Pitt gathers doesn’t amount to much, and World War Z is content to leave many questions unanswered, presumably to be addressed in any potential sequels. The claustrophobic third act, which takes place in a closed location, nevertheless feels like a letdown after the mass destruction Foster creates in Israel. Also, the promise of a threat to Pitt’s family never materializes. Oddly, one of World War Z’s perceived liabilities turns out to be just that. Marc Foster is a director who excels at making character-driven dramas, such as Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland, and Stranger Than Fiction, but Quantum of Solace indicated he had no business directing an action thriller. Somehow, though, Foster manages to hold World War Z together. He squeezes as much tension as possible from Pitt’s zombie encounters in confined spaces. He also does an impressive job of orchestrating the mayhem on both U.S. and foreign soil. He almost does enough to make up for World War Z’s lack of blood, a decision that appears to have been made to secure a PG-13 rating rather than for creative reasons. There’s more gore in a single scene of The Walking Dead than there is in World War Z, but this can’t be blamed on Foster. Despite its inherent flaws, World War Z remains entertaining from start to finish. However, there’s never a single moment in the film that makes you care whether Pitt returns to finish the job he starts.
Aired: June 20, 2013
Web site: http://www.worldwarzmovie.com/