Sunday, June 23, 2013

World War Z

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The Brad Pitt vehicle World War Z, directed by Marc Forster (Finding Neverland), takes place in a world not so different from our own--until, of course, a virus breaks out that turns billions of people into zombies. ★★

Things move fast in team Carnahan, Goddard & Lindeloff's adaptation of the Max Brooks novel of the same title. Brad Pitt plays Gary Lene (in a ho-hum performance), a former United Nations employee-turned-stay-at-home dad. Upon the violent outbreak of the zombie virus, Lene is beckoned by the U.N. to help escort a young doctor across the world in search of the virus' origins and its cure in exchange for the security of his family. It's an adaptation based on a novel that cleverly crafts a flashback narrative through oral accounts after the viral outbreak and ensuing war against the undead. So, how do you adapt a novel that is entirely dialogue, told through dozens of characters' viewpoints? I certainly don't know, and the movie's writers don't either.

WWZ feels like three different men wrote it separately--and that's because, separately, three different men wrote it. The third act is markedly tame and subtle given the intricate action sequences leading up to the discovery of the cure at a World Health Organization outpost in Cardiff, Wales. Bearing that in mind, to go into the film expecting a horror movie--something in the vein of 28 Days Later...--would be a mistake. It is an action film in the guise of a zombie horror movie. Few jump-out-of-your-seat moments transpire, and even less zombie-standard gore and blood occurs. Instead, Forster and his F/X crew craft immense scenes containing gun-fire and explosions, adorned by a bevy of tense last-minute escapes and detailed zombie masses. There is so little character development, they might as well not even have names. But given the thrilling, confidently brisk pace at which World War Z moves, who really needs to care?

WWZ won't do zombie movie diehards any favors, though it might do right by Die Hard diehards. It is everything an action film should be: quick and explosive. And it is such without being an insipid hoard of cheesy one-liners and maniacal villainous laughter. And that's good enough for me.

About the Author

Ian Tilman Nichols

Author & Editor

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