I’m no expert on movies featuring the undead. But I seriously doubt that World War Z will rank among the best zombie movies ever – despite a budget exceeding 200 million dollars. 200 million dollars! I think I’m more horrified by the pricetag than the notion of a zombie pandemic jeopardizing all of humanity (i.e. the premise of WWZ). Not that this particular disaster movie is a total disaster. Far from it. I was genuinely surprised how much I didn’t hate it. And that’s mostly because of how much I liked Brad Pitt. He plays Gerry Lane, a former United Nations investigator who’s given up his globetrotting ways to spend more time with the wife and kids in Philadelphia. He’s an intelligent, MacGyver-esque action hero type, called back into service to save the world – and thus, his own family too- from a growing army of zombies. Yeah, it sounds preposterous. But substitute “killer germs” for zombies, and the movie is basically Contagion or Outbreak with a contemporary sci-fi twist.
The problem with World War Z is the lack of any additional character development, and the lack of any sense of fun. You just sort of tag along quietly as Gerry embarks on a frantic, globe-trotting search for “patient zero” and/or a cure for the zombie infestation. A somewhat predictable pseudo-conclusion leaves the door open for a sequel or two, should the studio have an extra half-billion dollars or so lying around. Personally, I’d rather give that money to the Gates Foundation or W.H.O. to nip those potential pandemics in the bud. But hey, that’s just me.
Bottom line: World War Z is a fine, but not particularly fun PG-13 action adventure horror movie that moves at a steady clip (these zombies are uncharacteristically quick on their feet) and keeps the overt blood loss to a minimum despite an extremely high body count. If you’re looking for a “smarter” apocalypse movie than This Is The End, then have at it. Just don’t expect to leave the theater with a big goofy grin on your face.
p.s. Matthew Fox (Lost) gets fairly high billing in the credits, but good luck spotting him! Apparently, his character would get fleshed out more (no pun intended) in the aforementioned potential sequels.