‘I’ ON CULTURE
World War Z is a $200 million bore. Brad Pitt, playing a retired United Nations disease specialist with an adorable family, is in Philadelphia when everything seems to explode. He spends the next two hours (which felt like 20) running all over the globe to find a way to stop zombies. There are incredible computer graphics of zombies doing all sorts of wild and crazy things, but, after all, they have no character at all… that’s the way zombies come.
Zombies are the bottom of the barrel of the supernatural world. Vampires are a form of Gothic lust from the Victorian era: body fluid transfer, the mesmerizing of young British virgins forcing them into (for that time) unspeakable acts that we show casually on television today. Werewolves are a manifestation of our animal nature: they are very strong and can be vicious at times, while sweet the rest of the time. Zombies are simply undead. They don’t talk, they’re not intimate, they don’t even seem to need to eat and drink. All they do is run very fast, faster than just about everyone except the hero in this film, and attack by tearing people to shreds. That makes them dull enemies.
The story, based on a popular science fiction book by Max Brooks, shows a single hero (there were a lot of different point-of-view characters in the book, many of whom did not make it) who can seemingly do everything. He is a wonderful family man who manages to steal a Winnebago that just happens to have a really powerful rifle. He manages to fight off a whole load of zombies in Newark, N.J., and then is basically forced to lead the hunt for the source of the plague causing the disease.
Somehow, he and a top medical specialist wind up in Korea, where the specialist shoots himself, ensuring the importance of Pitt’s character. A CIA operative there tells him to go to Israel because it had built walls to secure itself from zombies. He gets nowhere there, and the zombies attack and look like they’re winning. Somehow, the Israelis alone seem to know how to shoot them. Whatever happened to something like napalm that could have killed thousands at a time? That might well have ended the whole thing. But this is a movie.
Pitt’s character, Gerry Lane, saves a young female Israeli soldier by cutting off her hand as soon as she is bitten, and she becomes his sidekick on a zombie-infested plane ride from hell. Things get nasty; it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a flight worse than a regular one on Spirit Air (whose agents seem to be zombies if you ask for anything). Pitt blows up the plane, and somehow, he and the Israeli are the only survivors in a crash that lands him within walking distance of a World Health Organization facility. He figures out what is needed to protect people, but, of course, everything he needs is in an area taken over by zombies. You can figure out the rest.
After a while, I recognized that this was nothing more than an old-fashioned “B” movie with hopped-up computer graphics. The problem simply is that Pitt is the hero of the movie and, as a result, can do anything. He outfights groups of zombies that somehow manage to kill a legions of skilled military men. He can outrun the zombies although no one else can. He can survive plane crashes even when his body is pierced by a major piece of metal. He can out-think everyone and be everywhere. He manages to be the ultimate survivor, but, since he’s Brad Pitt, we expect it. He makes Batman, Iron Man, even Superman look like wusses.
This is a very one-dimensional movie (and in 3-D, no less). While there are a few nice family scenes at the beginning and a few phone calls, the movie is essentially one long chase that seems to go only where they can do really good graphics. Aside from Pitt, none of the actors makes a splash, and most actually play nameless characters.
It would have been a far better film with a cast filled with stars in smaller roles, allowing some deaths, some horror. It might have been better if the last three-quarters of the film were not a simply thousands of computer-generated zombies chasing Pitt.
Save your money. See one of the far better summer movies.