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The Zombie Apocalypse as U.N. agitprop – World War Z

June 21, 2013


When exactly are we going to hit the zombie saturation point? The appetite of the masses for anything and everything to do with rambling hordes of the undead seems to be insatiable — as insatiable as that of the zombie subjects. For my personal tastes, the new century’s quota of zombie takeovers was met with 28 Days Later, which feels like it came out a hundred years ago. Yet the zombie movies, books, comics, shows — everything — keep coming. And coming. And coming. Again, much like the ambulatory undead themselves.

Maybe World War Z, Brad Pitt’s personal zombie love-child, will mark the turning of the tide. Adapted from the 2006 Max Brooks novel of the same name, the film has already drawn much adverse attention both for its changes from the source material and the drastic reshoots that have ballooned its budget into Waterworld pre-release disaster territory. Gone is the post-apocalypse stock-taking travelogue structure that gave the book its unique edge, and in its place is Brad Pitt as global savior, a straight-forward (more or less) movie hero out to track down the source of the zombie outbreak and stop it before it destroys all of humanity. The trades have been rife with stories about the troubled production and ballooning budget, with an entire third act (and more) scrapped and reshot, much to the money-conscious chagrin of studio bean counters.

WWZ is a big gamble for Pitt, both its star and a producer, who’s staked a big chunk of his own change on its success. But let’s hope not too much, because folks, this thing is a dud. I won’t be the first person to make this oh so obvious observation, nor will I be the last, but here goes: The “Z” in the title doesn’t stand for zombies, but for the Zs you’re going to cut when it puts you to sleep. Holey moley this thing gets dull, becoming, after plunging us right into the zombie outbreak action, a turgid, slapdash affair, lurching from one contrived set piece to the next, interspersed with soporific performances and leaden exposition. World War Z isn’t the worst movie ever made, but it’s far from good, no matter how many bucks have been sunk into its corpse. By trying to gussy up the original narrative as a Hollywood summer blockbuster, the filmmakers have managed to make it even duller than reading a U.N. report. Whatever may have been there before has been watered down and focus grouped to death. Beware.

I have detailed spoiler-free observations on the next page. Feel free to click over if you’re interested. If you’re not, I’ll understand. Believe me, I’ll understand.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Gary Morrison permalink
    June 21, 2013 7:49 pm

    I absolutely love the book. This movie looks like a train wreck. Point #9-The god awful decision to make the zombies fast. And I wholeheartedly agree with point #7. In the book it was the US that pushed the war to defeat the zombies.

    • June 21, 2013 10:54 pm

      In fairness, if the zombies had been slow as death I might have gone into a coma. And while the U.N. isn’t as front and center in the plot as I may have indicated, it felt that way.

      I have a feeling lovers of the book who aren’t Pitt fans are going to be sorely disappointed.

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