World War Z is an apocalyptic horror film inspired by the book of the same name.
Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his wife (Mireille Enos) are preparing for a regular day with their young daughters when they get stuck in a traffic jam and incoming news about several areas being quarantined for a massive rabies outbreak. Helicopters survey the area and police officers weave through traffic until a large garbage truck clears a path down the busy road. Several people attack other people and seem…different. The Lane family get into an abandoned RV when one of the daughters drops her counting stuffed animal. Gerry goes to pick it up when he sees someone bitten. The stuffed animal starts counting and after twelve seconds, the bitten person reanimates and chases terrified citizens. The Lanes are able to escape the city and get supplies. They receive a phone call from Gerry’s former colleague at the UN, urging him to find a spot to be picked up so Gerry can help the UN investigate the cause of the outbreak. After finding temporary refuge in an apartment complex, The Lane family and one young survivor are able to be picked up.
Gerry is urged to join Navy SEALs and other experts to find a source and cure for the outbreak. Despite evidence that points to the obvious, all of them are reluctant to call the event a zombie outbreak. Gerry reluctantly agrees after being promised that his family will be taken care of. At the site of his first investigation, Gerry learns of the amount of time for the infected to turn is different from the amount of time he’s witnessed, but is unable to examine anything else; the contained subjects had to be incinerated. Gerry bounces from place to place, in an attempt to fight off the zombie outbreak and find a cure.
First and foremost, THIS IS NOT A DIRECT ADAPTATION OF THE BOOK IT’S BASED ON. The book is an epistolary novel that focuses on several characters and their brief explanation of what they have experienced. Instead, the movie has a central character and we’re following one plot. There is a bit of reconciliation, as several locations mentioned in the book are visited and have their own experiences with handling the undead.
It’s a quick read and worth your time. Since the movie is somewhat independent of the source material, you can invest in one without spoiling the other.
The character development was an important part of the movie. Right away, it discusses Gerry’s former occupation and why he left. His family have their own immediate rooting interests, but once they leave the city they are barely seen or expanded on. Gerry in particular will put the safety of his family first, even to the point of standing on the edge of a building in case he were to turn. Gerry comes along several other people along the way and some have well developed stories of their own, while others get killed so quickly you may be left wondering why they were introduced in the first place.
Graphics and makeup were hit and miss, depending on the focus. If we are only looking at one or two zombies, the detail on all of them is fantastically done. On the other end, if there is a group or horde of them, it seemed too CGI to be believable.
Such as this shot, which was shown in every advertisement of the movie.
Fortunately, the moments of one or a few zombies at a time overshadow the moments where we are looking at zombies swarming a small area, so the detail can be enjoyed.
Plot: 8/10 (Gerry Lane, a former UN investigator, sets out to find the cause and cure of a worldwide zombie outbreak)
Characters: 7/10 (Primarily focused on Gerry, but there is a bit of characterization for everyone else with more than 5 minutes of screen time.)
Language: 10/10 (“Zeke” is retained from the book as a term for zombie, and other medical terms in relation to diseases)
Theme: 6/10 (ZOMBIES, tracking the spread of disease)
Music: 6/10 (Some licensed songs by Muse, but everything else is either ambiance or “time to run” tracks)
Spectacle: 7/10 (Amazing detail when focused on zombies, but lacking for hordes)
Star Power: 6/10 (Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, and brief appearances by James Badge Dale and Matthew Fox)
Who to watch with: 7/10 (Those who like zombies and/or Brad Pitt)
Post-movie thought: 7/10 (Man, Gerry is determined to get back to his family alive)
In Name Only: 7/10 (This movie in relation to the book it’s based on, so either can be enjoyed independent of one another)