Wednesday, July 10, 2013

World War Z

There's no way for you not to know this, but the "Z" stands for zombie.

And the phrase "World War" is no exaggeration, except insofar as it's a one-sided affair, with the zombies routing uninfected humanity pretty badly.

And quickly too. The movie does not stand on formality. It introduces us to Brad Pitt and his happy family at the breakfast table in scene one.

In scene two, Pitt and his wife take their children to school.

By scene three, zombies are running amok through the streets of Manhattan.


The speedy onset of disaster leaves Pitt and family scrambling for safety through the rest of act one; safety they find on a US navy ship in the middle of the ocean. They owe their rescue to Pitt's status as a renowned UN weapons inspector. Unfortunately the rescue also comes with responsibility. The army wants Pitt to accompany a Harvard scientist to various laboratories around the world, searching not for weapons this time, but for a cure to the deadly zombie disease.

Thus, World War Z doesn't really chronicle a war, but the search for a cure to a disease that has already devastated the world.

There are definitely zombies, though. Lots of 'em.

The zombies are of the 28 Days Later run-at-you-fast school, which makes for some thrilling action sequences, though often at the expense of any feeling of dread.

And that sums up World War Z pretty well. It moves quickly, it's sometimes scary, almost always effective, but there isn't much real terror behind any of it.

Notoriously, the popular novel on which the movie is based has been completely scrapped. It had multiple viewpoints and heavy political leitmotifs, none of which play well at the summer box office.

So the character of Brad Pitt was invented, and it's just as well the actor was thrown into the mix, because in the absence of character revelation from the script, at least we know who the heck Brad Pitt is. (The movie would have been better if Angelina Jolie played the wife and the seven kids or whatever played themselves.)

Pitt doesn't do much acting. He brings tremendous energy to side characters like Lt. Aldo Raine of Inglourious Basterds, but when he's the main character he's usually pretty bland, as he is here.

There are plot problems -- notably a shocking lack of wall surveillance by the normally reliable Israeli military and a plane crash that leaves its survivors improbably close to their destination -- but they don't really matter since this is disposable summer entertainment, even if it's dressed a little snappier than we're used to seeing.

But it's passably good disposable summer entertainment, for whatever that's worth.

SCORE

How Accomplished: 57/100

How Much I Enjoyed: 71/100