Director: Marc Forester
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale, David Morse, Peter Capaldi
Written by: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard, Damon Lindelof, (story) J. Michael Straczynski and (based on the novel) Max Brooks
Running Time: 116 mins
Release date: 21st June 2013
Look everyone, it’s another zombie movie. With the undead causing apocalyptic chaos for years and thanks to George A. Romero, roaming the earth for fresh meat, filmmakers have turned to the non-living for the thrill of a good horror. Now Brad Pitt has bought us a film version of Max Brooks’ satirical novel in which the world is dominated by flesh hungry humans and given us a film that could happily be retitled, World War Zzzzzz.
Former UN investiagtor Gerry Lane is happily in retirement, looking after his wife, Karin and their two daughters when they find themselves in the middle of a nightmare: the human race is under attack by zombies. Using his family as bait to bring him out of retirement, Gerry is forced back to his old job on the understanding that his clan will be safe and so he must head off with expert soldiers to find a cure for this epidemic, or at least some form of aid to stop the world from becoming a zombie wasteland.
Brooks’s original novel is a biting satire dealing with politics and survival techniques and was hailed as a re-invention of the zombie genre. Director Marc Forester and his band of writers (there are many) have stripped the book of any satire and humour and delivered a generic, somewhat dull zombie film that mainly follows the rules other zombie movies have given us over the years. Bounding from one CGI filled set piece, with a brief and rather boring conversation in which the same ground is covered, to the next CGI set piece, Forester’s film lack any real invention or originality. Having had years of zombie films, from the Romero Living Dead series to Resident Evil through Shaun Of The Dead, the zombie has been a decent movie monster, so this had to be very special to make an impact. It isn’t.
Having spent a fortune getting the rights (a battle between Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio), to the expensive set pieces through having to re-film the ending (due to terrible reactions), world War Z has been plagued with problems. Slated for release at Christmas, it was held back in order to get the ending right and, to be honest, even though you are not quite sure where they spent the money, the final sequence, looking like something from a TV sci-fi show like Doctor Who, turns out to be the highlight of the whole film.
Whatever tension that was in the story has been removed. We feel no real terror, no real threat and it only happens once all the noise has died down and Pitt enters the W.H.O. headquarters and plays a quiet game of cat and mouse with the zombies in the hallways. Then the film comes to life but until then it’s as dead as the creatures who race around finding flesh to bite.
Not that all the set pieces are a disaster, just that there is nothing surprising or new here. With scenes like the zombies making their own zombie ladders to clamber up walls (which are heavily shown in the trailers) they are impressive but because they were used in the promos, we’ve seen them and they no longer make us drop our mouths in awe. The fact that the zombies no longer lurch around but dash with the intense speed of Usain Bolt is also highly unoriginal as the now speed demon undead were first seen in Zack Snyder’s remake of Dawn Of The Dead.
Having shaky camerawork, making it almost impossible some times to see what’s happening, Forester hasn’t made a terrible film, just an uneventful one. Pitt, who is a great actor given the right material, isn’t given anything to really sink his teeth into and so ends up using his screen presence to engage us. It’s not enough. He runs around quite a bit and then looks moody when being told that the epidemic is spreading but that’s as far as he is pushed.
There are rumours abound that this is the first in a trilogy of films. On this evidence, I’m not sure that Paramount will want to invest in anymore. I know this is hard for me to say but if you want an evening with zombies, even Resident Evil is a better bet than this.