REVIEW: World War Z

22 07 2013

I will say, I do admire the inverted structure of Marc Forster’s “World War Z” (if you choose to give him ownership in spite of the film’s troubled production, which reportedly saw he and star/producer Brad Pitt at the point of not speaking). It’s bold to decrescendo over the course of a movie, bringing out the big guns in what could be considered exposition and then end with a muted but suspenseful climax.

But while it’s definitely not ordinary, “World War Z” most certainly is not extraordinary.  The film is an uninspired hybrid of “Contagion” and “I Am Legend,” capturing neither the intelligence of the former nor the intensity of the latter. It skimps out on characterization, expecting us to root for its main character because … well, he’s Brad Pitt. Relying on iconography can help with identification, but it’s never an excuse to provide scant details or motivations for a character. Pitt’s Gerry Lane is quite possibly the most bland protagonist of a movie with such a whopping budget. He’s just a through-line for the film’s events, boasting no inner life or personal complexity.

While Gerry travels from Philadelphia to Korea to Israel to the UK, the movie never really feels as global a film as the name “World War Z” would imply. Nor does it ever really feel like much of a conflict because the zombies are mostly kept at bay the entire movie. By the end, it all winds up feeling like a self-congratulatory “Thanks, Brad Pitt for saving the world!” show.

Granted, if I was writing the checks for an extravaganza such as “World War Z,” I would want to give myself a pat on the back too. But such a proclivity makes the film a remarkably inconsequential affair for everyone else. We are denied the vicarious thrill of adventure and salvation, just as we are unable to grasp the fear and trepidation of the other billions affected by the scarcely seen zombies.  B-2stars


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