Title: World War Z (2013)
Director: Marc Foster
Cast: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, Fana Mokoena, David Morse
The first thing that pops in my mind when I think of World War Z is that it is the most expensive zombie movie ever made, this zombie opus costs about 200 million dollars to make. So taking that in consideration, I expected the biggest zombie massacre ever. But then I remember they decided to make it a PG-13 film which immediately means, no gore, no graphic gut munching, no blood, no brains, which of course just goes against everything that a true blue zombie movie should be about. I mean, a zombie movie with no gore? That doesn’t even fit the rhyme scheme, but that’s what World War Z is. A gutless zombie movie and I mean that in more ways than one. But okay, so who am I kidding anyways right? This is a movie starring one of the biggest actors in Hollywood, World War Z was not gonna be a graphic zombie film since that fateful day in which Brad Pitt signed on to do the film. So whatever, zombie movie expectations aside, what was World War Z like?
Gerry Lane is an ex United Nations employee who has to reinstate himself in order to help the government discover the origins of the zombie plague. In order to find a possible cure for the zombie plague, they have to find “patient zero”, the first victim of the virus. In this way they can identify the cause of the disease so they can find a way to stop it. So the search for this patient zero takes Gerry all over the globe. Unfortunately, the plague is spreading so quickly that any country that Gerry visits is overrun by thousands of zombies! Will they ever find the ever elusive patient zero?
If you ask this zombie fan a gore less zombie movie just isn’t the same, I mean, isn’t the nature of a zombie that they eat flesh and or brains? But whatever, I decided to accept World War Z for what it is. I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt. Maybe this is one of those movies that’s PG-13 but still intense and scary? And it was, I’d say that even without the graphic violence and gore we’ve come to associate with zombie films, World War Z remains gripping and intense. And it has some genuinely spooky moments squeezed in there. On any one of these zombie movies, my favorite moments are those in which the zombie plague is just getting started, when the chaos is just starting to show its ugly face and these moments are very exciting in World War Z. We first come to face with the zombie chaos when Gerry and his family are on their car, having a nice day. Suddenly chaos hits and its explosions, car crashes and thousands of people hollering down a city street running from zombies…all cool stuff, exciting. I mean these zombies can leap like grasshoppers! And the movie maintains that level of excitement all throughout. My only critique would be that they should have made the zombies scarier, as it is, all we see them do is run ferociously, and that’s it. You never see a zombie munching away at somebody, so why are they a threat? Because they can run really fast? Yes my friends, sadly the flesh/brain eating element was left out of this zombie opus, as a result, the film is less gripping then it could have been. In my opinion, World War Z is good, but it would have been a better zombie movie had it been rated ‘R’.
World War Z is based on Max Brooks’ novel World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. For those not in the know, Max Brooks is also the son of Mel Brooks, the famous director of comedies such as Young Frankenstein (1974) and Spaceballs (1987). In contrasts with his father’s career, Max Brooks has chosen to be a writer of zombie novels! He also wrote another zombie themed book called The Zombie Survival Guide. From what I gather, the film is a very loose adaptation of the book, I haven’t read the book, but I’ve read some fans complaining that it isn’t a very good adaptation. When they adapt a film into a book, I like to judge the movie on its own merits; unfortunately, World War Z is not a very original film. Instead of sticking with the books political criticism or dammit, some of the books more original elements (from what I’ve read there are a lot of those on this book!) the filmmakers decided to show us moments we’d already seen before in previous zombie films. What I’m saying is that if you’re a zombie fan, then you’ll be familiar with many of the situations presented on World War Z.
The picture perfect suburban family thing, where the film starts out with a beautiful happy family being extra happy and joyful only to hurl them directly in the middle of zombie chaos is something we already saw before in Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead (2004).The scene in which a zombie horde follows Gerry as he jumps off the building? Saw that in Resident Evil Afterlife (2010). The heroes of the film find refuge with a nice family inside a complex building? Saw that in 28 Days later (2002), even the last shots of this film and the way it was resolved reminded me of I Am Legend (2007). Zombie outbreak on a plane? Saw that in Flight of the Living Dead (2007)! So in the end, World War Z goes down a couple of notches in its rating simply because it wasn’t that original. In essence, even though it entertains, it doesn’t break new ground in terms of what a zombie film is. The most original element about this film is how the masses of stampeding zombies pile on top of one another to form waves of zombies, but aside from that, it’s all be there and done that.
So ultimately, what hurt this movie the most, in terms of it being a good zombie film, was Hollywood playing it safe. Multimillion dollar productions like this one are such a risk, that Hollywood has no options but to put a huge star in it and rate it PG-13 so that the biggest amount of youngsters will go see it. If they stamp it with an R, they are afraid fewer kids will be let in theaters to see it. When has an R rating ever stopped a kid from seeing a movie? I don’t know about you guys, but that whole rating thing is bull, I’ve seen kids seeing R rated movies in theaters all the time, so I don’t know about the validity of that whole rating thing. Ultimately I think theaters will take your money no matter what age you are. But in order to play it safe and rake in that dough, they rate it PG-13, it doesn’t matter to them if they end up with a less effective movie. They even went and changed the ending of the film entirely in order to give it the typical happy ending; I hear the ending was supposed to be this big ass zombie war, which would have made sense, I mean the film is called World War Z after all. As it is, the film doesn’t end with a bang, it ends with a whimper. Of course it’s going to have a happy ending; this is Brad freaking Pitt we’re talking about here. I’m not saying it wasn’t entertaining or gripping, in fact it has some moments that take zombie films to a level of epic that zombie films had never reached, I mean, 200 million bucks can buy you a whole lot of goodies for your film, but then you also feel like World War Z is missing valuable elements that would have made it even more effective. I would have preferred this movie with a lesser known actor and with more guts. But alas, World War Z is Hollywood; pure and unadulterated.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5
"No, no, no, scrap all that, we're going with the mega happy ending!" Brad Pitt talks with director Marc Foster behind the scenes.