There are two ways to watch the movie that comes out today titled World War Z.
The first way is to view it as the movie adaptation of the book by the same title by Max Brooks. If you do this, hopefully you will have read the book. If you do this, you will most likely get pissed off and hate the movie because it has very, very little to do with the book. Sure, both the movie and the book have zombies that are spread via a plague, sure both movies have the world, as we know it, ending. And, yes, there is a character who travels around collecting people’s stories but that’s it. The book is an after-the-fact story. The war with the zombies has come and gone with humanity, more or less, the victor and the main character, the unseen narrator, is the one who wanders the world, collecting the stories of the survivors. The book is fantastic, a wonderful piece of fiction full of heroes and villains, sacrifice, horror, redemption, hope and glory. WWZ, arguably, started the wave of recent zombie fiction over the last few years. It is a great book and if you haven’t read it then you should; I can’t recommend it enough.
And just like if you were a fan of the Hellblazer comic series and were horrified by the drek Constantine (KEANU REEVES?! REALLY?!), you will be similarly horrified by this movie.
The other way to view this movie is that it is a movie that has the same title as a book that is also about zombies but is, in fact, a very different story. In order to get some sort of enjoyment out of the film, rather than paying $11.50 and sitting in a dark theater for two hours grumpy that I wasn’t watching the movie I wanted to see (i.e. a true to source material movie), this was the tactic I took.
The movie is not the book. I will attempt to keep the spoilers to a minimum but, essentially, we see the world end as the plague breaks out and begins to rapidly spread. Brad Pitt plays a character by the name of Gerry Lane, a man whose past is somewhat unspecified except that he used to work for the UN and has, as they say, “seen some shit.” Various other people make reference to things he’s seen and done, i.e. been in trouble places all over the world investigating terrible things, and that, at one point, he stopped doing what he was doing to write a book (a nod to the main character of WWZ the book who fashions his report to the UN into a book, I think). In order to keep his family safe, Brad Pitt resumes working for the UN and hops all over the globe, searching at first for the source of the outbreak, then a cure, and finally for someone who can be trusted to NOT MAKE ANY FUGGING NOISE WHEN THEY ARE TRYING TO STEALTH PAST ZOMBIES. I swear, it’s like Gerry gets partnered up with every clod-footed, ham-fisted klutz they can saddle him with. If there was a tin bucket full of bells, broken bottles, and joy buzzers, Gerry’s side-kick of the scene can be trusted to do their best to punt that can like they were trying to put it through the uprights in a football game.
As a summer blockbuster movie it is… ok. If fast zombies aren’t your thing you’ll be disappointed but at least these are actual zombies, rather than the plague victims like in 28 Days/Weeks Later (which were fine movies, just not zombies). The plot has some holes in it and it tries to use some bits from the book (such as the bit about the “tenth man” in the story about Israel) but, if you’re viewing this as a movie separate from the book, it’s fine. The pacing was decent, the action was ok, and there are definitely some moments of tension that I thought were well done. The ending, I thought, was a little lame but I can’t talk about it because, well, spoilers. Rather, what I can say is that it’s too tidy and neat considering that most of the people in the world are walking zombies and so the ending is kind of improbable considering how spread out the survivors would be. This would make more sense if you, you know, saw the movie.
At any rate, would I recommend this movie? Honestly, you won’t be missing much if you wait for DVD or streaming it off of Netflix or Amazon; there’s nothing in this that demands to be seen on the large screen. If you do have to see this in the theater, go catch a matinee or, better yet, get someone else to buy your tickets. Ultimately, I think this will be a forgettable addition to the zombie movie collection which is a damn shame because it could’ve been awesome. Instead, we get World War Z