Film Review: World War Z

daniel cohen feels trapped in a night of the living dead …

World-War-Z-Final-Movie-Poster

Plot: A United Nations Special Operative turned family man Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is pulled out of retirement to investigate a world wide threat that appears to be a massive zombie epidemic.

Full Disclosure: I’m not a zombie guy. I don’t get the appeal. To me, it’s a bunch of dead people running around with their arms stretched out making weird noises. It’s not something I find very entertaining, but to each his own. But putting my indifference towards zombies aside, this movie is a complete and utter waste of two hours. This is the epitome of lazy filmmaking. It just felt like the writers and director (Marc Forster) didn’t care about this movie whatsoever. Are there any positives? Yeah, and I’ll get to those soon enough. But why did I find World War Z an excruciating experience? Oh, let me count the ways…

First of all, these are some of the most generically written characters I can remember in a long time. We basically follow Brad Pitt’s character, Gerry Lane, throughout the whole movie. The first act is him protecting his family, the second he’s on a world wide mission to find the source of this zombie outbreak. This character is nothing. I guess he’s likable, but he has no personality whatsoever. Brad Pitt is awful in this movie. Now everybody calm down … the man is a talented actor, but he isn’t capable whatsoever at carrying such an underwritten boring character. I’m not even sure Leonardo DiCaprio could save this. And here’s the thing — despite what else might be good about this movie, it’s all lost because of how underwhelming the protagonist is. If I don’t care about your lead character, I don’t care about your movie. Even if the action is incredible, it just becomes painful if I don’t care about the people involved. We call that ‘Transformers syndrome.’ But it’s even worse in World War Z, because even I cared about Optimus Prime in Transformers.

But let’s get to that action. This movie is absolutely shameless. We get one 3 minute scene of character development between Gerry and his family: Gerry makes some pancakes, his previous job is mentioned, they go for a drive, and the shitty action begins. This is so damn lazy. I can just imagine Marc Forster sitting on the set unenthusiastically saying,’Yeah, alright, here come the zombies, whatever, people are running (yawn), let’s shake the camera a lot, I don’t know, this works I guess, whatevs … when’s the next action scene?’ This is literally five minutes into the movie. We don’t even know these characters yet! You have to give us some kind of build up to make this action exciting. Even films like Independence Day or Armageddon, you get to know the people before being thrust into a major action scene. And the action is bad … it’s just shaky cam galore.

Now everybody hold onto your hats, because I’m going to get to one of the positives. The one character I did like was Segen, a soldier Gerry meets in Jerusalem. She’s played by Daniella Kertesz, and she’s easily gives the best performance in the film. She just expressed a lot of toughness and likability in her face, and even Pitt’s character was more intriguing in scenes with her. There’s one moment in particular when Segen gets bit, and Gerry has to help her. This got fairly intense.

Other than Segen though, there are no other characters worth mentioning. It’s just generic city. Generic daughters. Generic scientist guys. Generic wife. The dialogue between Gerry and his wife Karin (Mirelle Enos) is so pathetic and bland, I prefer the dialogue between Anakin and Padme in Episode II. Okay, I can’t go that far, but just mentioning that gives you an idea of how bad it was.

And in getting back to the action, while it does improve from the first scene, it’s pretty ‘meh’ overall. And like I said, I’m not a zombie guy, so if you’re a die hard zombie fanatic, maybe this action makes sense to you, but for me it’s just laughable. And all the bad stuff is in the trailer. The zombie pile up hill … really? Come on. And the zombies to me are just plain silly. One of them does this weird mouth click in what was supposed to be a really intense scene, but I heard quite a few people laughing, so I’m not alone. I’m supposed to be threatened and unnerved by these things? Whatever.

The film also goes out of it’s way to portray this as a world changing event, almost apocalyptic. Zombies certainly running around the world would fit that bill. But when you have a scene where Gerry is leading a group of army men to a plane, where zombies could strike at any minute (and one does), it’s not the best idea to have Gerry’s phone ring, only to hear one of the army guys jokingly say something along the lines of, ‘please turn off all cell phones.’ How can I take this seriously? And it’s not like this was after the attack, or before it. The soldier cracks this joke right as the zombie makes his move, ready to pounce. I get this film isn’t some high impact drama, but there’s a time for levity, and this wasn’t one of them.

Aside from Daniella Kertesz’s performance and the score, there’s nothing to recommended about this movie. It’s just generic, generic, generic, generic. I was bored out of my mind, especially in the last twenty minutes. The movie is desperate for tension, but when you don’t care about anything happening, or any of the people involved, there won’t be any. And of course, they have to go out of their way to say ‘Ohhhhhhh, you’ll have to come back for the sequel!’ No thanks. When this movie ended, I almost jumped over people to get out faster. Yeah…I didn’t like it.

Rating: 4 out of 10 (Really Bad)

All photos credited to Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions in association with Hemisphere Media Capital and GK Films.
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Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.