1. At this point the zombie movie has gone through just about every permutation possible from its low budget schlock horror roots all the way into the world of comedy faux documentary Western even romance. The one thing we haven't seen yet from the zombie genre at least until the release of World War Z is the bloated overproduced overexpensive and impersonal Hollywood blockbuster zombie movie. Was this something anyone had really been waiting for As far as it goes it's a perfectly serviceable if slapdash studio action movie but it's still strange to watch This is a genre that's supposed to be messy and bloody and over the top but World War Z is all stately and lumbering. Making a big traditional Brad Pitt PG 13 action fest out of the zombie apocalypse frankly feels like a waste of a good zombie apocalypse.
2. Fans of Max Brooks' book a group of which I am a gleeful member won't recognize much here save for the global zombie infestation that threatens to bring down civilization. You definitely won't find much of that book's wit or satire in the film the movie is doggedly serious for reasons I don't quite understand. (It's a movie featuring Lt. Aldo Raine killin' zombies. Try to have some fun.) It's basically about Gerry Lane (Pitt) a retired UN investigator traveling across the world trying to figure out a way to stave off the zombie hordes and find a cure. He starts in Philadelphia and heads to Newark South Korea Jerusalem Wales and Nova Scotia running to and fro looking terrific and scared. (In many ways it's an apocalypse travelogue. Would have been nice to see Paris.) Gone is the book's vast scope and myriad of characters this is Brad Pitt Saving The World.
3. The odd thing about World War Z is that it acts like it's the first zombie movie anyone has ever made. There are no nods to the countless zombie movies of the past no notion that zombies could stand in as a metaphor for anything. (The handy thing about zombies is that they're metaphors for everything.) Instead they're just Big Summer Action Movie Villains masses and masses of CGI monsters attacking endlessly. They're just something Brad Pitt has to figure out how to kill. This can be deadening and certainly bewildering to anyone who has ever seen a zombie movie before which is to say everyone and it's odd that Pitt seems to have tried to make a family friendly zombie movie with no gore and no real despair. It's the end of the world and everyone feels fine except for those few poor souls being brained off screen.
4. The movie infamously went through a ton of reshoots and production troubles and I wonder if it lost a lot of backstory in the process. As it is now it's basically five major action setpieces with Pitt somewhat improbably at the middle of all of them. As empty as this film is at its core as gutted as the story feels I cannot deny that the setpieces worked. The two best ones are full of fun special effects one involving an ascending mass of zombies scaling a massive wall around Jerusalem and the other featuring a particularly scary plane crash. You think you've seen every possible plane crash in a movie and then they find a new way to get you every time. Can't think of much worse than a zombie on a plane. Of course that's another issue with World War Z Zombie on a plane sounds kitschy and hilarious. In World War Z no one notes hey zombie on a plane that's crazy. It's treated with a little bit too much of a straight face for a movie that's not particularly serious if you get what I mean.
5. For a movie that feels slapped together with gristle and spit the reshoots on this thing must have been massive and it still doesn't make much sense at a story or thematic level World War Z improbably is still plenty entertaining. Pitt may be one of the main reasons for this. He's not particularly charismatic here I prefer either full movie star wattage Pitt or crazy eyed over the top Pitt he's more Stoic Action Guy in World War Z but he invests the proceedings with a level of purpose that carries us along from setpiece to setpiece. He seems to really want this movie to work and that's the power of a good movie star When all else is falling apart a little conviction can go a long way. Longtime zombie movie fans will scoff at World War Z's plodding lumbering nature and all told you're probably better off just renting 28 Days Later again. But you could also do a lot worse for your summer entertainment buck. I'm not sure this is a real zombie movie. But it delivers anyway.
Grade B .