World War Z

Inspired by the book of the same name, “World War Z” starring Brad Pitt has made it to theaters after several delays including seven weeks of additional shooting that was ordered by the studio after principal photography had ended. While the book covers survivor interviews in the wake of the zombie pandemic, the film covers the early days the outbreak and casts Pitt as Gerry Lane, a former U.N. troubleshooter who is left his life in the field for the ability to be a stay-at-home husband and dad to his wife and daughters. When an unexpected outbreak starts to lay waste to several cities, Gerry and his family are evacuated by his old U.N. Allies to a secure location aboard a naval flotilla and he is told that his family will remain in security providing he agrees to spearhead an investigation to determine the source of the outbreak.

With very few options Gerry leads a team to Korea in an attempt to get to the source of the outbreak and find a cure, or at the very least, a course of treatment to battle an outbreak that’s quickly is decimating the world’s population and threatening to destroy life as we know it in a very short time. The dangers are numerous and Gerry soon learns that there is a much larger puzzle to be solved which sets them on a journey around the world in a race against time to save humanity. Along the way he encounters signs of the world gone mad and utter devastation from locales ranging from Jerusalem to Cardiff as it becomes obvious that the infection has spared no region of the globe. With time running out, Gerry must find a way to turn the tide and save humanity before it is too late. With his resources dwindling he embarks on a desperate mission to test a theory and save the world.

The film does have its share of tense moments however the PG-13 rating does severely limit the amount of gore and horror that can be displayed. One key scene implied that a weapon had become imbedded in an infected enemy and that Gerry was struggling to extract it in order to use it to defend himself. Due to the limitations of the rating this had to be implied rather than shown and Pitt came across as more comical than tense and desperate.

The movie also suffers from converted 3-D which does absolutely nothing to enhance the film as there were very few moments that benefited from the 3-D technique. Perhaps if the film had been shot in 3-D the quality it would’ve been better but it was clear that several of the scenes in the film were not set up nor shot with 3-D in mind.

There are some very good effects; especially the ones were hordes of infected throw themselves recklessly like swarming insects upon barricaded survivors which really helped underscore just how hopeless and desperate the situation for the survivors was. No matter how much firepower you have, a wall of infected coming at you in endless waves is eventually going to outlast your supply of ammunition.

There had been some reported tensions on the set between Pitt and Director Marc Forster, but to me the biggest red flag was the seven additional weeks of shooting that were done after principal photography had been completed. While re-shoots are not uncommon, re-shoots of this length are, especially when it led to the film being delayed from its original planned release to the summer.

In the end what you have is an uneven effort. The film has a very good concept, good cast, and potential to be a fantastic series but suffers from a real lack of scares. It’s a sanitized look at a zombie invasion that greatly undermines the subject and the source material. The studio has hopes of doing a trilogy of films and I would definitely like to see future releases in the series provided they improve upon the original, offer films that are more in keeping with the book and are more respectful to zombie genre. As it stands now, Pitt does the best he can with the material but is let down by a script that is big on clichés and offers very little in the way of scares and originality.

3 stars out of 5