Marc Foster, the director of such personal favorites as Monster’s Ball (2001), Finding Neverland (2004), and Stranger Than Fiction (2006), takes on a zombie apocalypse in his latest film, World War Z (2013) alongside Brad Pitt (Seven (1995) and Inglourious Basterds (2009)).
WWZ is an unusual project to try and manage given that Foster’s last two films have been anything but formalistic and stuffy (Quantum of Solace (2008) and Machine Gun Preacher (2011)). Now, he is trying to differentiate his zombie film from the saturated market of zombie material that’s running amok throughout our pop culture landscape. On top of that, he runs the risk of alienating the book’s entire fan base by completely ignoring the its premise and storylines.
It doesn’t take long into the film to become sceptical, as the intro more resembles an opening for a weather channel update covering the latest hurricane – it also doesn’t take long before everyone is running their asses off from hungry zombies. There isn’t much background given to Pitt’s character Gerry, but as he tries to find refuge for his family, he takes moments to analyze different functions surrounding the people being eaten around him, such as the amount of seconds it takes someone to die and reemerge or whether he will change into a zombie after he gets some zombie blood in his mouth.
Pitt’s character turns out to be a retired United Nations investigator. Once Gerry is able to get his family to safety, he is recruited by the government to find answers. Traveling from the US, to Israel, to somewhere else, and other places (the amount of plane travel and locations make you dizzy after a while), Pitt finds his answers and saves the world. Yipee!
As I have already mentioned, you can imagine that I was never sold on the actual character itself. Sure, he is a super smart, fit, and generous person, but there are no differentiating characteristics that stand out during the film. This is mostly caused by the ticky-tacky dialogue that curdles throughout.
I think one scene might also be a contender for the worst of the year (spoiler ahead) – it includes some briefly identified 20-something-year-old scientist who is going to save the world, who gives an excruciatingly long monologue about why this apocalypse is happening. This random guy is built up as being the savior of humanity. Apparently the screenwriters got sick of this character as well, because he slips and shoots himself in the face after two more minutes. There was then, maybe, a two second acknowledgment that this happened, before business moves on.
I may sound like I am being overly critical of World War Z - there are some effective portions that cause you to jump a little and the scene with James Badge Dale as the crazy Captain Speke provides some grittiness. Looking back, it wasn’t a terrible film, it’s just wasn’t enough synchronicity to the storyline, and its characters, which left four or five lumpy acts. But, looking at the bigger picture, World War Z has given me my dose of zombies until The Walking Dead’s next season. So, thank you for that at least, Marc Foster.
116 mins. In English, Spanish, Hebrew and Arabic.