World War Z, first published in 2006, is one of the most beloved pieces of zombie literature in the history of the genre, and arguably a cornerstone of zombie culture in general. Author Max Brooks sold the film rights to Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment in 2007, and the story of the film’s painfully long development history has been well documented. From production delays to script revisions to seven weeks of reshoots, it hasn’t been an easy road – so how is the finished product?
[pullquote_left]Surprisingly, it’s not nearly as bad as you might expect.[/pullquote_left]Surprisingly, it’s not nearly as bad as you might expect, especially when taking into consideration the numerous roadblocks along the way. It’s also not as bad as that first trailer, with the unfinished CG effects that made the zombies look more hilarious than horrifying. But it’s also not a great film, and it bears little resemblance to the source material on which it was based.
[pullquote_right]The zombies sprint like track stars and tackle like NFL linemen, but they never seem to actually eat anyone.[/pullquote_right]Pitt stars as Gerry Lane, a former United Nations investigator who must return to the field and attempt to track down the source of the outbreak in exchange for his family’s guaranteed safety aboard a UN aircraft carrier. His journey takes his from country to country as he follows the trail toward Patient Zero, fighting and fleeing from zombies along the way.
The zombies themselves are a curious bunch – they sprint like track stars and tackle like NFL linemen, but they never seem to actually eat anyone. Their sole purpose seems to be infecting others and spreading the virus, which is certainly an interesting approach, but pales in comparison to the carnage seen weekly on episode of The Walking Dead.
[pullquote_left]An entertaining zombie flick – just don’t expect it to look, feel, or sound anything like the novel.[/pullquote_left]World War Z also makes the mistake that plagues so many tentpole releases, showcasing most of the major action sequences in trailers and TV spots and leaving the audience few surprises to look forward to. And like just about every other major summer blockbuster this year, it runs a bit long, and a few well-placed cuts could’ve vastly improved the film’s pacing during the third act.
Pitt, with the help of director Marc Forster and a long list of screenwriters that includes Damon Lindelof and Drew Goddard, has managed to salvage what should have been a complete train wreck of a film and turn it into an entertaining zombie flick – just don’t expect it to look, feel, or sound anything like the novel.