World War Z has a rocky production history to say the least. They wrote it, then shot it, then decided they didn’t like it, re-wrote it and shot most of it again.
Given all that it’s kind of amazing that it’s a coherent movie at all. Too bad though that the end result is kinda boring.
World War Z follows Brad Pitt’s Gerry, a former fixer for the UN who when the zombie apocalypse breaks out calls up his UN buddies and gets evacuated to safety only to be pressed back into service in return. Tasked with finding out how the outbreak started and potentially how to end it he takes off for the other side of the world leaving his wife and kids behind but with a satellite phone so he can check in once a day.
As he investigates he figures out how the zombies tick and eventually, surprise, saves the day and probably the world to then return home to his wife and kids.
It’s not so much bad as it is boring. There are lots of sequences in this movie that should be scary and tense, but almost all of them are undone by one of two things.
First, the CGI zombies look terrible. I do like the way they behave, swarming and flocking towards uninfected, but the CG is truly terrible. Further, the 3D conversion make the effects really stand out against the real backdrops and some of the action is so frantic it’s difficult to follow.
Second, this movie is rated PG-13, so while a zombie horde is often nearby the main characters they aren’t ever really the visceral threat that zombies should be. Even though they attack people, the camera is either zoomed way back or cuts away and it really undercut what could have been some amazingly tense scenes.
The lone standout is the big climax where the heroes are working their way through a large building as quietly as possible, and this is part of the reshoots. It’s dark and tense and fun but it’s really the only sequence that is. I understand this is part of the reshoots too, so I shudder to think what the original story might have been.
Speaking of which, given how much was reshot the film is, as I said, quite coherent. It’s a little confusing sometimes that some very minor parts are played by recognizable actors. Matthew Fox shows up basically in the background of one sequence and David Morse has a 3 or 4 line cameo that really felt like it was going to play into a larger story that just never materialized.
Brad Pitt is his usual reliable self but there’s nothing special about his performance, it’s just standard levels of good actor good. Not phoning it in, not exactly bringing his A-Game either, but given the material that’s not exactly surprising.
Mireille Enos is good Gerry’s wife back at home, but she has so little to do.
All in all World War Z is just kind of OK at best. It’s not terrible, but it’s too uneven to be great and it really feels like it could have been great if they could just solve a few key problems.
But they didn’t, so it isn’t.
Rating = 5 / 10