Lacking in brains, tasty brains

by Gazette Reporter

GIVEN that the source material is written by Max Brooks (son of Mel), it is no surprise that World War Z has made it to the screen.

Family pedigree aside, the 2006 apocalyptic horror novel is one of the most highly-regarded novels of the last decade and one of the most eminently filmable.

Its scope, its scale and the convenient presence of zombies (the undead are so hot right now) means that it was always going to find a home on the big screen.

In production since 2009, the film has changed writers a number of times, but is now a $200 million juggernaut that is looking to derail the Man of Steel and boasting a certain Mr Pitt.

Having Pitt on board is both a blessing and a curse for this film.

In one way, he is the perfect embodiement of a family man fighting against an impending apocalypse, earnest, brave and put-upon.

However, when you have Babe Ruth on your team, he plays right field, no matter who else is on your team.

And so here, the sweeping nature, the global outbreak and the commentary on American isolationism, survivalism and the diminishing scale of the world are all cast aside.

So, basically, everything that made the book such a success is taken away so that Brad Pitt can be brooding and heroic.

It’s not to say that Pitt doesn’t fill the boots of his role, it’s just that the boots are too small for an actor like Pitt.

From a rampant opening which keeps the gore to a minimum but ratchets up the tension, Forster loses the sure hand as the film starts to evolve into less of a survival thriller and more of a global hunt.

This wouldn’t necessarily be so bad if the characters weren’t so shallowly drawn.

Pitt’s Gerry is a likeable character and while you don’t actively hope that his family get torn apart by a horde of flesh hungry zombies, it would definitely improve the film.

Instead, he’s a UN survival expert who just happens to do stupid things like leaving his phone on when traversing infected areas.

In the end, the film just feels too generic, too bland and not a patch on the excellent source material at the filmmakers disposal.

By trying to focus on one man’s story, Forster fails to deliver any semblance of a war, which is odd given the title of the movie.

Additionally, these aren’t garden-variety zombies.

They’re full-on leaping, bouncing, climbing, team working nightmares.

They work more like something from Jurassic Park than anything Romero ever committed to celluloid, which makes the fact that they only get the chance to swarm once utterly baffling.

This is the summer, people expect action, they expect a crash here, a bang there and even a wallop thrown in.

In the end, by focusing narrowly here, Forster has done himself and the material a disservice.

Though the door is open for a sequel, without the actual war, what’s the point?

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