Here’s the best thing, worst thing, and main thing about Brad Pitt’s new zombie adventure “World War Z” in about the time it takes to watch the trailer.
Hey look it’s the movie “I am Legend” if Will Smith were played by Brad Pitt and his dog by a rotating group of people we don’t really know.
World War Z follows the days immediately following a massive outbreak that is quickly turning the population of the world into super fast, flesh eating zombies. It stars Brad Pitt as the man travelling the decaying world to find a way for the human race to survive. While it’s true that much of this is similar to Will Smith’s “I am Legend” the main difference is that this movie is in the midst of the outbreak happening, whereas “I am Legend” feels like a world that has been that way for a while. Pitt gives a really solid performance as a father trying to both protect his family and find his way to an answer that might also save the world.
The best thing about World War Z is the first 30 minutes of the movie. The movie’s setup and first escape are intense, well acted, emotionally charged, and full of suspense and genuine heroics. We get to know this family and their dynamic quickly enough to get right to the action but deeply enough to really care about whether or not they survive. There is a scene in a looted grocery store just minutes into the film that is as poignant and suspenseful as anything I have seen on screen so far this year. This is masterful movie making and the main reason I might recommend the movie. It’s here that director Marc Forster shows the touch he has with characters and emotional intensity that were on display in Finding Neverland and Machine Gun Preacher. Which makes it even harder to understand how it all falls apart as the movie continues. Unfortunately, after the family attempts that first escape and Brad Pitt’s character begins to travel the world in search of answers the film only manages to recapture that magic for a few moments here and there throughout it’s run.
If the Best thing about the movie is it’s first 30 minutes the worst thing has to be the last 30 minutes. It’s as if World War Z seems to fall apart under the growing weight of characters we don’t care about and dangling plot lines, some of which are left unnecessarily dangling even as the credits role. I think much of my issue with the way the movie plays out is what I call “Free Agent” syndrome. When I was young my college and Pro sports teams had pretty much the same core players year after year. The Piston’s were Isaiah, Dumars, and Lambeer. But today players seem to change teams as often as they change shoes. Likewise, In World War Z the team just kept changing. Sure Brad was always there in the center, but I felt like the characters around him switched out so often that I never got a chance to really root for them. In a movie like this I want to know my team and root them on to the end. But here, we barely have a chance to say hello before they are either dead or left in the dust as Brad galivants off to the next destination. And what happened to this family we had sweated and screamed with through the first moments of the movie? They are relegated to some sort of strange sub plot that felt like it had entire sections missing from it. Add to this that I couldn’t take the zombies seriously anymore after I realized how much they reminded me of the velociraptors from Jurassic Park and the movie lost me. Seriously, somebody do a side by side with the lab scene from Z and the kitchen scene from Jurassic Park. it’s like a shot for shot remake.
So lets talk main thing. World War Z is a well conceived tale of survival that kicks off with a lot of promise and some of the most intense movie making I’ve seen, but ultimately due to a jittery plot and characters we don’t care about flounders to its finish with a C+