Let me take you back to 2008. ATMR was just getting started and one story I posted on the site was about the book “World War Z” being adapted into a movie.
Nearly five years of development hell later and the movie has finally arrived in theaters.
“World War Z” follows the character Gerry (Pitt), a retired United Nations Investigator, who now takes up the role as stay at home dad. Everything seems peaceful enough, however, a drive through the city with the family becomes a horrifying experience as a fast spreading zombie virus starts moving through. Gerry contacts his friends at the U.N. and manages to escape the city with his family.
The reason that the U.N. allows his family to stay aboard a fleet of battleships which makes up humanity’s most functional command center, though, is because they need his skills that he used in his old job to put an end to the virus. For the sake of his family’s survival, Gerry agrees to go on a mission to discover how to fight back against the virus and the investigation takes him over multiple countries around the world.
In other zombie movies, the story is often through the perspective of characters who are trapped or bunkered down for good portions of the movie, and they usually take place sometimes after the zombies have over run society. This movie takes a different approach dropping a protagonist right in the middle of how the governments are dealing with the zombie epidemic, which feels refreshing.
The story works well as a mystery. Between the sequences of action and mayhem, the film manages to work in good interrogation and interviews that Brad Pitt’s character has to do during his investigation. It was enjoyable watching a horror action film that not only could keep one entertained, but interested in what was going to happen next as well. The ending of the movie is one where it sets up the possibility of a sequel, yet it still wraps up the overall plot well enough that it doesn’t leave a person needing a sequel.
Having a high caliber actor like Brad Pitt helps the movie get to a better level. Despite not being a very character driven movie and Gerry not necessarily having a major arc, the protagonist is still interesting so you can take him seriously and likable enough that you can root for him.
The side characters aren’t the most memorable, fortunately though, none of them are annoying. In some horror movies, there can be some really annoying stereotype characters who are uncooperative and they usually end up turning on each other. It was good to see a movie that didn’t go down that route for a change, with all of the characters doing their part to help Gerry carry out his mission.
Seeing the trailers for the movie, I was a bit worried at times that the zombies would look too cartoony with an overuse of CGI, like what was seen in “I Am Legend.” That turned out not to be the case though. When CGI was needed, it was only used for major long shots that showed hundreds of zombies, up close though, the film sticks mostly to practical effects, which was very welcome.
The movie also, unlike some other zombie movies, only had a PG-13 rating so there wasn’t an abundance of blood and gore, yet the film is still able to provide some good scares. The movie builds suspense and good thrilling moments by creating a good, scary atmosphere in multiple scenes. For example, there is a really nice part early in the film where the family have to escape an apartment building.
Another area the movie does well in is making jump scares that actually pay off. In other horror flicks, there can be a jump scare with something that is suppose to shock an audience, but usually the thing that causes the jump scare is just a black cat running by and knocking something over. Here, the jump scares are the start to a chase scene with the zombies hot on the character’s trail. The adrenaline in the movie shoots up and stays up for the entire scene, unlike those other jump scares where all the tension is released when it is revealed that nothing dangerous was actually going on.
The film also had some good action. “World War Z” was able to deliver some great explosive moments without ever getting too over the top. Some of the scenes where the zombies are swarming a city and helicopters are circling around trying to contain the situation are very well done.
Fans of the original book may be disappointed as this film is really not that connected with its source material. The movie also doesn’t deliver much in terms of major plot depth and there isn’t much of a character arc going on. However, the movie works well by being a whole lot of fun. The film delivers a likable protagonist played by a more than capable actor, a story that serves as a fairly interesting mystery and a good mix of action and suspense to provide for thrilling scenes. “World War Z” is a satisfying horror-action flick and worth going to check out in the theater. Low 4 out of 5.