Tuesday, July 23, 2013


World War Z

Directed by Marc Forster
Written by Matthew Michael Carnahan, J. Michael Straczynski,
Drew Goddard & Damon Lindelof

   The film World War Z will most likely be known for its many production woes and set backs, but eventually the filmmakers have turned out a decent, engaging film, if albeit a muddled mess at the same time. It is enjoyable that they managed to get what they presented out of the film. Whether through the rewrites, reshoots or escalated post-production, the film eventually becomes an exciting and entertaining film, especially in the final forty minutes. Brad Pitt continues to deliver a sturdy performance but many of the supporting characters are too underdeveloped and not given enough time to breath, much less grow. World War Z, directed by Marc Forster, could, well, should have been about a half hour longer, with more background, history and room for the characters to expand, and the film would have been much better.
     World War Z, based on the best-selling book of the same name by Max Brooks, involves a worldwide breakout that is causing human beings to turn on there own kind and eat them, eventually turning them into diseased creatures. They avoid using the "zombie" word throughout most of film but that is what they are and what I will call them throughout this review. Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is a former United Nations investigator called in to help stop the outbreak and find a cure to the pandemic. We first see him with his family in Philadelphia having breakfast. Happy moment. Then they are in a traffic jam in downtown when all hell breaks loose. Lane and his family, wife Karin (Mireille Enos) and their two daughters Constance (Sterling Jerins) and Rachel (Abigail Hargrove), are terrified and luckily enough, through a series of extremely close calls, end up in an apartment complex in Newark, New Jersey, where his U.N. connections get them safely aboard a US Navy ship.
     Lane is persuaded to go on a globe trekking journey to investigate the disease. The persuasion being if he does not help investigate his family cannot stay safely on the ship. The problems begin to arise. He takes a top Harvard doctor of virology with him to South Korea but, and this is a spoiler alert, the doctor is killed as soon as they arrive and Gerry is left to search for the root and cure for the pandemic alone. Killing off a character with little develop that is built up as the top, and somewhat, only person that can find a cure was annoying. Let him grow a bit. There has to be some other doctor at another acclaimed, prestigious university that can also search for a cure.
     Another problem is we never really find, or are given much background to why and how the disease started. Somewhere in the middle of the film would have been a good location to give a history lesson to where it might have started. They hinted at it throughout the film but never gave any concrete evidence. Somebody, somewhere on planet Earth would had to have been locked away in a secure, government building or bunker doing constant research, but this is a Hollywood action film. The other problem was that when Gerry goes to Israel to see how they walled off Jerusalem, the information given is not concise and I could never truly understand why and how they knew to safeguard the people before the outbreak began. This is where the story is muddled and sped up to get a decent running time. Maybe too much time in the editing room. Details do not have to be given so easily where the audience is force fed the answers. I like having to think and search for answers, conclusions and reasons in films, and maybe I missed something that if I see the film again will catch it the second go around. I just felt a film like this should give a little more information and give the characters time to development. Create a relationship with them.
     On that note, we also have the under used Mireille Enos, who I wish would have been given more screen time that did not involve her sniffling or in a state of despair. Enos is a wonderful actress and could have easily been given more writing to chew on. As could have James Badge Dale, who plays a Navy SEAL, but is not in the film that long. The two biggest problems are the rushed story and the underdeveloped characters.
     The part that saved the film was that ending at the World Health Organization in Wales. The one character that is developed, the star Brad Pitt, is put up against the zombies and the filmmakers did create a very intense, suspenseful ending. The tension of having to get from one room to the next, being sinfully quiet to not give the zombies notice of your being there was highly effective, good filmmaking. I will not give away the cure, well, camouflage that will keep the infected away from the living but I was craving more. I wanted more story and probably could have watched another half hour. It was an engaging part of the film and the zombies are fast paced, teeth snapping infected human beings. Most are CG created in big, wide shots but they are more like the 28 Days Later zombies instead of the Night of the Living Dead ones. Not a lot of gruesome scenes or chewing on people's guts, which was a good change of pace. We get enough of that in "The Walking Dead" TV series.
     World War Z could have been so much more. Understandably they leave much out of the book but with summer movies running over two hours in some instances, another 30 to 40 minutes would have given the material more to make the film better. The suspense is there, especially in the final scenes, and Brad Pitt once again turns in a good performance but the film needed more story and character development. All-in-all, I did not dislike the film and felt good after seeing it but it is what was left out that aggravated me the most. Maybe it would have been better as a mini-series on HBO or Showtime.

1 comment:

  1. I was impressed with how good this flick looked, but I did expect it to be a lot better in the script. Good review Joshua.