The huge leap in zombie popularity has been pretty amazing over the last decade or so. Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright kicked off their feature film careers with Shaun of the Dead. George Romero, the Godfather of the genre came back in a big way with Land of the Dead, and The Walking Dead went from being one of the world’s biggest comic books to being one of the world’s biggest TV shows. So, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood got involved with a massive movie star, a massive budget and massive special effects. And all of that adds to a pretty decent movie with World War Z.
Gerry uses his UN connections to get evacuated by helicopter and his family is soon safe aboard a US Navy ship. Here he learns the virus he saw on telly has basically spread worldwide, turning the afflicted into zombies. This then sets off a globetrotting romp as Pitt travels to Korea, Israel and Wales in search of the cause of the virus and a hopefully a cure.
As far as big budget actioners go, World War Z won’t go down in history as a classic, but it’s perfectly fine. Pitt’s a believable enough hero and the story moves along at a cracking pace. Maybe a little too quick. The constant changing of locations and mini missions give is it a bit of video game feel. Stage 1: Escape Philadelphia. Stage 2: Korea. Stage 3: Jerusalem. Stage 4: Wales.
But the major letdown is the special effects. World War Z proves that CGI technology still isn’t good enough to seamlessly integrate computer generated people with real people in the same shot at the same time. They just don’t move right, like they’re not subject to the same laws of gravity. And even after the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on this thing, they still just look like cartoons.
Before it was even released, there was a lot of negative buzz about World War ‘s major rewrites and reshoots. While I generally really liked the ending, I think the rewrites seem more obvious in earlier parts. Things get set up, but don‘t have a pay off. Pitt’s family basically adopts a small boy after his family his killed, which seems like it will probably lead somewhere. Instead, you just see the kid in the background here and there, hanging around like a bad smell. Pitt’s family is sent away from the navy ship and you think this might play into the story somewhere, until it doesn’t.
But even with those small quibbles, there’s a lot more to like than dislike in World War Z. Especially the ending. In a movie that indulges in massive action sequences from the second it starts, the relatively subdued final obstacle was great surprise. The downside of that ending? It’s a clear setup for a sequel that just doesn’t seem necessary.