Director: Marc Forster
Studio: Skydance Productions / GK Films
Stars: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz
It’s tough to find anyone to cheer for in World War Z, the massive, splashy but oddly uninvolving new Brad Pitt-vs.-the-zombies action epic. Based very, very loosely on Max Brooks’ bleak, highly political novel in which worldwide survivors tell tales of life before, during and after the zombie invasion, the movie version deletes Brooks’ satire and political punch to instead follow Pitt as a former U.N. guy who gets dragged away from his loving kids and wife (Mireille Enos) and back into service during a global pandemic.
While the world gets overrun by gajillions of fast-moving, fast-multiplying members of the undead nation, Pitt and the movie go to hell and back in a search of a cure—or is it a search for a good plot?—with New York, New Jersey, South Korea, Israel and Wales only providing backdrops for zombie massacres, few of which are anywhere near as grabby as those on any given episode of The Walking Dead. The movie, directed by Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace), offers star/producer Pitt doing his damnedest to make this thing work. But it’s a mystery why the U.N., or anyone else in the movie, thinks Pitt’s character is such a big wheel. It’s not like he has specialized knowledge, skills or savvy. And the constant intercutting of big suspense sequences with worried phone calls to Pitt’s wife is fatal to the movie’s build.
Sure, there are some enjoyable “Boo!” moments and jumps and jolts to be had here and there, especially during an escape sequence set at an airport during a rainstorm. Helicopters crash, hapless extras and stunt people get sucked out of a crashing airplane and, when the zombie horde scales a giant wall like demented insects, it’s a kick, but a soulless one completely lacking in human interest. The whole episodic thing, in muddy 3D, feels stitched together, maybe because World War Z, was judged to require almost two months of reshooting and an entirely new last third. It’s not a terrible movie; it’s not an especially memorable or imaginative one, either.