WORLD WAR Z (M) (116 min)
Directed by Marc Forster. Starring Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, Matthew Fox.
The zombie horde have dragged a couple of very good films along in their shuffling wake. Shaun of the Dead still stacks up as one of the best and funniest British comedies of all time, while the far more serious and bloody 28 Days Later, and its sequel 28 Weeks Later are both superb examples of just how smart and satirical horror can be when the film-makers care enough to actually try.
Which brings us to World War Z. Based on the best-selling novel by Max Brooks, World War Z, like an awful lot of films before it, posits a zombie virus that has been simmering away in the third world for a year or two, before it bursts out of the world's international airports and/or illegal organ trade, and promptly lays waste to the West. Brooks' novel follows the blueprint, but then heads off into a long and detailed study of geo-politics and rigorously researched ‘future history’. Most people who've read the book have concluded that the only way to film it would be as a long running big budget television series. With World War Z, the film, Brad Pitt and co have proved them right.
It's not easy to convey just what a let down this film is. There is nothing here you haven't seen done better, more inventively, and far more excitingly in 28 Days and 28 Weeks.
Having escaped mainland USA by means of some outright plagiarism, Pitt and family are taken to a US ship anchored safely off-shore. Pitt is apparently a ‘UN expert’ on pandemics. Which is odd, since he spends the entire film looking completely out of his depth while asking everyone around him what they think is happening. Later on, as the film skips across the continents, Pitt will find himself braining zombies while running around a research facility somewhere in Wales.
With his baby blues, centre-parted blonde do, and permanent wispy stubble, Pitt looks like nothing so much as a Sunday School Jesus gone rogue with a crowbar. Which was at least good for a laugh in a film desperately in need of a bit of levity.
On the positive side, James Badge Dale and David Morse are two of the better character actors around, and they both get a run in World War Z. On the negative side, pretty much everything else. For a couple of hundred million dollars, we have a right to expect an original script, and set pieces that are genuinely spectacular. World War Z has neither.
- © Fairfax NZ News