Your opinion of World War Z will rely almost entirely on your expectations walking in. On its surface it’s a flashy, over-the-top action/suspense flick that just so happens to have hordes of zombies in it. But if you’re willing to look past it’s obvious flaws, there’s actually a pretty good story here; albeit a slightly misguided one.
World War Z stars Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane, a former United Nation investigator who was the best at what he did before quitting to focus on his wife and two young girls. However, when a mysterious outbreak ravages the world in a matter of months, Gerry is called back into action by an old friend and is forced to leave his family behind once again, possibly forever.
Brad Pitt has always been a capable actor, and while his performance here isn’t astounding, he plays the conflicted father very well and he’s an easy character to root for. For the most part, he’s smart and resourceful, always thinking ahead rather than falling into classic zombie movie cliches, with only a few exceptions.
But I doubt most people will go to see World War Z for the acting. This is an action movie first and foremost, and in that regard it’s pretty great. While it is technically a zombie movie, it’s just as easily classifiable as a globetrotting, international thriller. And that’s a good thing.
Sure, there’s zombies galore and fighting the infection is the primary goal here, but under all that there is a really interesting conspiracy theory explaining how and where the virus started, and how some middle-eastern countries are almost completely unaffected.
The plot is both the movie’s strongest and weakest point odd enough. For one, it takes classic zombie cliches and turns them on their head, as well portraying the zombie outbreak as a global epidemic rather than on a smaller, more personal scale; which works for the most part, but might turn off some of the more diehard zombie enthusiasts.
On the other hand, however, the plot does some really stupid stuff. Loose ends are tied up quickly and without proper explanation, there’s too much reliance on coincidence, and the ending is kind of tacky and obviously made to lead into a sequel. And if you’ve seen the movie then you know of at least one scene that is so dumb it’s laughable. And not in a good way.
But, once again, your enjoyment of this movie depends on your attitude going on. I sat down in the theater expecting a dumb, brainless zombie romp; and with that mindset, I was pleasantly surprised as World War Z is more than that, just not by a lot.
If you don’t put too much thought into it, and just sit back and enjoy the ride, there’s a lot of fun to be had with World War Z, and most of that fun comes from the explosive set-pieces. It’s been advertised to death, and for good reason, but the colossal zombie hordes are really a sight to behold.
Unfortunately, the beholding wears off pretty quickly as the CGI for these hordes is a little corny. Once again, not bad, but not good. However, when Gerry encounters smaller groups of zombies, all of which are actual people covered in make-up, the movie truly shines. It’s these scenes, when the zombies actually look real, that World War Z becomes a nail-biting thrill ride.
I probably jumped two or three times throughout the movie, but to be completely honest I was freaked out the whole way through. Maybe it was because I saw it with a bunch of friends who never take anything too seriously, but I had a blast watching Gerry and his team of researchers get chased, attacked, and stalked by dozens and dozens of zombies.
While the ending has been the primary reason for the film’s now infamous delays, it turned out a lot better than it probably should’ve. But, it’s still not perfect. The actual climax is fantastic however. It’s a stressful, unnerving experience that is a real joy to watch unfold. It’s violent and intense and is the real highlight of the film without a doubt.
However, I can only imagine it would be even better if the film didn’t try so hard to hide any of the blood that’s always just off-screen. I mean, this is a zombie movie without any blood, and while it doesn’t suffer because of it, I can guarantee you it’s big set-pieces would be even more enjoyable, and scary, if they weren’t so obviously toned down. As they stand they’re still really fun, but have a missed potential feeling about them.
As for the actual ending, well, it’s not near as bad as I expected but not near as good as it could’ve been. The eventual endgame is an interesting and intriguing turn-of-events that actually surprised me, but the way the loose ends were tied up felt rushed and slightly corny.
World War Z was obviously meant to spawn numerous sequels, and the ending does nothing to hide the fact. Which is expected, especially since it performed so well at the box office, but I would’ve greatly appreciated it World War Z was allowed to stand on its own, without the reliance of a sequel to finish what it started.
Overall though, World War Z is everything you’d expect in a summer blockbuster; and that’s a good thing. It’s a fun, freaky, and pretty explosive zombie flick that, if watched with the right expectations, is a lot more enjoyable than it probably should be.
It’s flawed no doubt, and I doubt I’ll be rushing to see it again anytime soon, but I could easily see myself enjoying it again sometime in the future.