Ok. You’ve gone and done it. I now have zombie fatigue. The saturation has become so overwhelming that I am, as of now, de-zombifying all my pop culture intake (save The Walking Dead because I do not want that ruined). Is World War Z the straw that broke the undead back that exists only in my mind? Perhaps.
Max Brooks (son of Mel) wrote a brilliant novel called World War Z, which should be read by anyone with a modicum of taste (for flesh). It’s a journalistic chronicling of what happened to the world in a zombie apocalypse. As near as I recall – it has been a few years since I read it – this movie has almost nothing to do with that book. The production of World War Z has been notoriously troublesome (I did a piece of this yesterday http://wp.me/p36nPa-P8 if you care to check it out). I won’t rehash any of it here, except that I seem to be the odd bird who likes the back third they reshot a lot more than the first two-thirds of the movie.
If you go to the movies a lot (and I do) the trailers for World War Z has been playing for months in front of every single movie. If you’ve seen the trailers, you have seen the first 2/3 of the movie. Honestly. The movie itself starts exactly how the trailers do with Brad Pitt’s family at home, they get in the car and off we go to chaos. Pitt gets his family to an aircraft carrier and to safety and then ponies up to go find the source of the outbreak.
I never felt sucked into this film. I never felt a sense of disaster, horror or fear. A lot of this is because of the PG-13 rating. Do not hamstring a zombie movie with a PG-13 rating. How can you possibly have a near bloodless zombie uprising? You can’t commit to the horror, you can’t show the toll, you can’t really do anything other than show reaction shots. Zombie movies are supposed to be bloody. They are undead monsters who eat people…IT IS WHAT THEY DO! It’s like having a baseball movie without bats, balls and gloves. If there’s an unrated cut of this, I’d like to see it to see if it would make a difference with some actual zombie horror in the zombie horror movie. As it is, it’s a disaster film, an average one and I wanted to see WWZ.
Where the movie starts to prove interesting is in the last third, which is the portion reshot that everyone seems to hate. The zombies need a healthy source of prey, so they’re bypassing terminally ill subjects. Pitt and his sidekick (an Israeli soldier whose hand Pitt hacks off after she’s bitten during the fall of Jerusalem) go to Wales to a WHO lab to try to obtain a pathogen that they can use to form the beginnings of a defense. The suspense and creepiness of the zombies in the WHO sequence was, to me, the best part of the picture. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the zombie ant wall the first time I saw it in the trailer but there’s nothing visually more stunning in it in the movie. I thought creepy WHO teeth-clacking scientist facing off against Pitt in the vault was infinitely more suspenseful than the crowds of Left 4 Dead speed zombies running hither and fro.
The movie just sort of ends, clearly leaving things open for a sequel that is-due to box office success-sure to follow. However, it doesn’t stand as anything impressive on its own. Hamstrung by its rating and choosing quantity over quality of zombie horror, World War Z ends up being just an average disaster film and another summer 2013 letdown.