World War Z - Review

In the middle of all the zombie craze in movies and games, Hollywood's greedy claws got a hold of one of today's most cherished zombie novels - Max Brooke's World War Z.
Although i personally didn't think that the book was anywhere near as good as his "Zombie Survival Guide", one has to wonder how this novel is supposed to be adapted into a movie with a linear story?
Obviously diverging a whole lot from the short stories of the source material, the World War Z movie starring Brad Pitt seems to anger fans already right from the start. Question is, whether it can introduce enough new and original ideas to compensate for that.   

The plot:
United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to destroy humanity itself.
(source: IMDb)

World War Z doesn't mess around and cuts straight to the chase pretty quickly.
After a fairly quick and shallow introduction to Gerry Lane's (Brad Pitt's) family life, the first act focussing on the virus outbreak, lets the movie start with a bang. The depiction of chaos is probably the movie's biggest strength and has a certain "War of the World" character to it.
Sadly, World War Z's first act is simultaneously the best part of the entire movie (and not by a whole lot). From then on, the movie falls into a pit of extremely underwhelming been-there-done-that territory.

Talk about a movie that does everything by the book.
Especially nowadays, where zombies seem to appear in just about every television series, movie or game, you really have to bring something new to the table to stick out. Unfortunately though, World War Z falls incredibly flat in that regard.

World War Z isn't a "zombie movie" in the traditional sense of the word. It should be rather regarded as a virus-outbreak-movie or a global-thriller that just happens to have zombies in it.
In this global-thriller, it's all about the hunt for a vaccine against the zombie virus, where Brad Pitt travels to different countries to find the origin of the virus and therefore the cure.
Zombies basically become side characters in a movie that is more about the virus rather than the zombies themselves, which instantly will anger a lot of people.
This gets further underlined by how much this movie tries to play its zombie theme as realistically as possible and avoid looking comicy (comparable to 28 Days Later).

Start with a bang...and then it's all downhill.

Except for some nice set-pieces here and there, World War Z is mostly a been-there-done-that experience, where zombie encounters and fights are few and obviously play second fiddle to conversations about the virus itself.
World War Z is such a painfully generic zombie movie that it often feels like it's working through a checklist.

As a result, World War Z is extremely predictable. The storyline uses almost every general zombie plot device that you already saw a hundred times in better zombie flicks.
Despite the "hunt for a cure"-concept being very old and clichee for a zombie movie, this wouldn't be so bad if the movie wouldn't do such a terrible job in telling its story. The entire movie is mainly just a boring drag through various conversations, where occasional interesting and cool ideas get only talked about instead of shown.
These occasional short bits of creativity, like a certain country simply removing the teeth of every citizen so that they can't bite somebody if infected, represent the only original parts of the movie, which get instantly buried by just sloppily mentioning them and not showing or building on top of them.

Regarding Brad Pitt's global investigation quest for the virus' origins and its spread, the movie in a way TRIES to emulate the book's short stories by throwing short backstory-flashbacks about the first zombie occurences into the story. Sadly though, they come off more like useless short snippets than anything else, that the movie clumsily tries to string into one main incompetent mess of a narrative.

Problems, which the movie production had with the script show through the movie's incomplete feel. World War Z is that sort of a movie that kind of just stops instead of telling its story to the end.
It has a very unclimactic and underwhelming ending, which feels like nothing major has been accomplished after all in this roughly 2 hour movie.

Prepare yourself for a lame ending.

Nothing in this World War Z is complex or deep. Neither the story, nor the characters or their relationships. Its as simple and basic as it gets:

Brad Pitt's acting overall feels very uninspired, along with his very characterless, clichee and uninteresting role, Gerry Lane.
Gerry Lane is a UN employee who loves his family and tries to find the cure, that's it. You honestly don't get to know anything else about his character. With that said, the character of Gerry Lane could just as well be Brad Pitt himself, which is how the acting feels like - it's Brad Pitt playing himself.

This wouldn't be so bad if Gerry Lane's family would've been more involved in the story. Protecting your family in a zombie apocalypse is a goldmine of ideas for various exciting situations the movie could've shown.
Instead, Gerry Lane's family members are quickly ditched aside for the main plot to kick in once they are safely left behind on a military ship. From this point on, the movie basically becomes a one man show completely focussing on Brad Pitt. Every other side character in the movie somehow manages to come off even more bland and uninteresting than Pitt himself, making the audience don't care at all whether something bad happens to anyone of them - killing off every potential suspense that there coulde've been.
Therefore, going into detail about the side characters makes absolutely no sense here.

World War Z: Brad Pitt is...Brad Pitt.

By now it is no secret, that the movie's zombie depiction diverges a whole lot from the actual novel.
Instead of being slow and more of a Romero-type-zombie, World War Z's zombies can run fast as fuck and are extremely sensitive to sound (almost like bats...?).
And although i find the concept of literal hordes of fast zombies quite interesting, the execution makes the zombies ultimately look very unimpressive.
The hordes of zombies are completely CG animated and look incredibly fake, just as their weird CG movements. Especially when the zombies jump at somebody to grab and bite em, it looks really weird and obviously computer-animated. Still, watching the zombie hordes pile up to climb massive walls or to take out a chopper are some of the very few highlights in the movie (aside from the other few set-pieces).
The zombie designs themselves are kept more realistic and casual like in 28 Days Later, but are rarely shown in full detail and simply can't hold a candle to the fantastic zombie designs and make-up work of the Walking Dead.
Gore-hounds or fans of traditional zombie horror expecting brutal deaths and kills will be completely left disappointed.
World War Z is a prime example of the zombie genre getting Hollywood-polished so much into a wannabe blockbuster, that it becomes barely recognizable as a zombie movie after all.
Gore and bloody moments are only shortly hinted at but never explicitly shown (what kind of zombie movie is that!?).
Lastly, aside from the zombies being hyper-sensitive to sound, a certain major plot-relevant aspect about how the zombies work makes absolutely no sense. Unfortunately, i can't say what it is without spoiling the movie, but let me tell you: from a realistic virus and biology perspective, this makes absolutely no sense and on top of all the messy storytelling instantly drags the movie down into plain stupidity.

Great from a distance, unconvincing when up close.

All in all, World War Z is a whole lot of nothing. It's not exactly a bad movie in the traditional sense of the word, but more of a bad movie because it barely tries to bring anything creative or new to the zombie genre and is just a lazy been-there-done-that experience.
Very few mediocre set-pieces and ocassionally hinted potential are the only small bright spots. Yet, they are far away to compensate for the movie's boring mess of a storytelling, completely bland characters, unconvincing special effects and underwhelming, bad ending.
World War Z is neither a good adaptation of the book, nor a good original zombie movie in its own regard.
It only furthermore shows, how desperate Hollywood is for new ideas. Zombies are cool and all, but movies like World War Z simply try to capitalize on the name of a popular book and the zombie trend without contributing anyhting substantial to the genre.
If you are sick and tired of the zombie trend, this movie isn't going to change your mind.
My suggestion is to get yourself a Playstation 3 and just play The Last of Us. Hell, even simply watching somebody play that game, makes for a much much better and more exciting movie than this lazy cashgrab, World War Z. 

Final Verdict: 2 out of 10 

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