This isn’t a guy movie, it’s a family movie one might be tempted to see and then regret. As a zombie movie, World War Z is too cookie cutter and too impersonal, it abandons the traditional claustrophobic survival horror template in favour of a wider scoped angle dealing with the bigger picture. A well done zombie movie about people trapped in a building is better than an average tale of globe trekking. In this movie, Brad Pitt spends more time in international airspace than Clark Kent. Get down there and kick ass, coward! Anyway, one minute he’s in a helicopter, then he’s in a plane, then an aircraft carrier, then another plane… in other words, out of harms reach. When danger does arrive, the movie just takes it as an opportunity to showcase its CGI skillz, then it’s flying off to another location. Throughout this hasty and curiously pointless journey this ‘bigger picture’ has one problem – it doesn’t bother asking bigger questions nor satisfying wonder. And y’know, defending your home and surviving the anarchy is manly. Entitled UN officials flying around with the safety of SEAL escorts… not so manly.
After a zombie outbreak, Brad Pitt is a (former) UN Investigator sent out to track down the root of the problem, finding it supposedly leading to an immunization. At first, rabies in Taiwan is mentioned. Then South Korea – I was hoping for some canine culinary jokes here, alas, this movie doesn’t have time for a solitary joke in its 118 minute runtime. Anyway, Mr. Pitt flies to. Then Mr. Pitt flies fro. Not a lot of food for thought follows him, but what does is a series of CGI catastrophes that he narrowly misses each time. All gore free I might add – this is the most sanitized zombie movie you’ll ever see. Absent along with the gore is a sense of death and finality. A good zombie movie (or any apocalyptic movie for that matter) should destroy the establishment and authorities at the outset, as if to say, now you’re on your own, suckers. Not here, where it feels like this outbreak is ‘only’ a very serious problem.
In the third act, or at least the last half hour, the movie somewhat settles itself. This is by most reports where the bulk of the infamous reshoots took place. Here, mercifully, the directors penchant for CGI showcasing is canned – possibly through budgetry constraints, who knows – and things enter survival horror territory. Pitt must face ‘the things’ in a more intimate environment. This final set piece is just about effective, but hardly skillful. It’s too clean, too little and too late. The ending is also highly unsatisfactory and unbecoming of a real zombie movie, and this is where its family and cookie cutter DNA really hits home. Everything turns out fine you see, not that there was ever a sense of foreboding doom over this movie in the first place. This isn’t how a zombie movie should end, especially one where sequels are planned. While we’re at it, the 3D is shit. And poor 3D is worse than normal 2D.
While there are some sweet visuals and it comes off better for the reshot ending, this is ultimately a family movie where people stare grimly at each other from safe confines. Doesn’t make you think, doesn’t make you squirm. Day Of The Dead did both.