World War Z is, in case you have magically missed out on all the hype, a zombie apocalypse movie which begins in the contemporary USA but then goes globetrotting. It’s about as “based on” Max Brooks’ 2006 novel as U-571 was “based on” genuine historical events, so bear that in mind if you enjoyed the book.
Brad Pitt plays Gerry Lane, a UN Investigator who seems better at staying alive than every soldier he meets. He’s kind of like a Mother Teresa figure, sowing destruction in his wake through sheer coincidence yet remaining largely unharmed. He’s coerced out of retirement because apparently nobody but a retired diplomat is fit for the job. We see how much of a big goddamn hero he is when he’s the only person who can drive fast in gridlocked traffic, and when he saves his wife from the Obligatory Rape Threat even though a few minutes before she’d shown herself to be pretty quick-thinking and badass. Tragically for Gerry the younger of his two daughters seems to be completely stupid, and many of his close encounters of the Zombie Kind are entirely thanks to Little Miss Derpface.
Alas a great deal of the plot requires stupidity from everyone in it. This is one of my no-no’s with storytelling, and World War Z hits it frequently. Gerry’s youngest is a moron, so Action Happens, because Gerry himself is bright enough to get out of Action’s goddamn way. Other survivors they encounter are morons, which mires Gerry further in set pieces which wouldn’t occur if people were as smart as they initially appeared to be. Of outstanding stupidity is the moment which leads to this:
But the stupidity doesn’t stop. Scientists Gerry meets who are ostensibly very bright turn out to actually be deeply intellectually hampered. Soldiers actually seem to fare pretty well on the brains scale in this film, but I imagine that’s only because if a Blockbuster attempts to show American soldiers in any light other than massive heroes right now, it’ll go down about as well booking Gary Glitter for a children’s birthday party.
Gone is the novel’s commentary on US isolationism, government ineptitude and wealth-driven corruption. Perhaps that’ll come in the sequel since, in the movie’s defence, the book is set ten years after the war, whereas the film is set during the outbreak of the virus. Sequel? Why, yes. World War Z has already grossed so highly that a sequel’s been ordered. People will probably pay to go and see it.
Unless you’re really keen on seeing the visual effects on a big screen, I’d save this one until it’s cheaper to watch. It’s not bad, and you probably won’t feel like you wasted your money, but that’s largely because bugger all else is on right now.
Entertaining, spectacular, forgettable.