Film review: World War Z

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Left to right: Mireille Enos is Karin Lane and Brad Pitt is Gerry Lane in WORLD WAR Z, from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions in association with Hemisphere Media Capital and GK Films. Left to right: Mireille Enos is Karin Lane and Brad Pitt is Gerry Lane in WORLD WAR Z, from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions in association with Hemisphere Media Capital and GK Films.

Brad Pitt’s attack on zombies fails to capture the trend

It’s not that World War Z is bad. Any movie with star Brad Pitt and director Marc Forster—whose resume swings from Stranger Than Fiction to Machine Gun Preacher-—can’t be bad. It can, however, be pretty mediocre.

Fans of Max Brooks’ novel World War Z would probably say the failure comes from subverting the novel’s structure—a collection of accounts of the zombie war set 10 years after its end—and setting the movie at the beginning of the conflict. Maybe that’s the problem, but I’d argue a movie’s job isn’t to be faithful to its story’s origins; it’s to be an entertaining movie. World War Z is not. It has all the elements of a decent zombie adventure story, but it’s so derivative it’s impossible not to spend the movie tracing the story arcs back to other places.

For example, Gerry Lane (Pitt), a U.N. investigator, spends much of the film looking for patient zero, the first person infected with the virus (or whatever it is) that’s turning people into zombies. See also: Contagion. Of course, he’s retired and lured back into service. See also: Rambo: First Blood Part II.

More derivation: The zombies can move really quickly (Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake) or really slowly (George A. Romero’s original Dawn of the Dead). The music sounds like Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” (The Exorcist). The world seems to be ending (every apocalypse movie, but let’s go with the recent spate, including This is the End, Warm Bodies, The Host, and the Resident Evil series).

And in what must be coincidence—because the screenplay isn’t smart enough for it to be purposeful—a World Health Organization doctor tells Gerry not to hit zombies with blunt objects because it just riles them up. If you recall Blazing Saddles, co-
written and directed by novelist Brooks’ father Mel Brooks, you shouldn’t shoot Mongo because it just makes him mad.

That’s a long way of saying the mind wanders when it should be concentrating on the zombie plague, which crashes down in the first 10 minutes. The following 100 minutes are spent fleeing and figuring out what went wrong, and the bursts of zombie menace are timed to stave off boredom while Pitt broods. It doesn’t help, by the way, that his name is Gerry, and that his boss’ name is Thierry (which is pronounced, as we remember from French class, “Terry”).

The other thing one notices is the movie’s confused gender politics. Gerry is married to Karin (Mireille Enos), who does a pretty good job keeping the family alive. But of course she’s attacked and he saves her. Then there’s a convenient plot excuse for her to stay behind with the kids while he saves the world.

Gerry teams up with a tough Israeli soldier (Daniella Kertesz). But then he has to save her, too. It’s as if the four credited screenwriters (all men) couldn’t decide whether to let the women kick ass or make dinner, so they let them half-do both. And as we all know, saving the world is man’s work.

Maybe the women will have other things to do in the sequel. Because you know there’s a set-up for a sequel, right? Of course you did.

Will it be mediocre? Does a zombie love human flesh?

 

World War Z

PG-13, 110 minutes, Regal Stonefield 14 and IMAX

 

 

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Movie houses:

Carmike Cinema 6
973-4294

Regal Downtown Mall
Cinema 6
979-7669

Regal Stonefield 14
and IMAX
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