Zombies on the Brain

  • Written by Jase Howell

At last the popular zombie apocalypse book "World War Z" finally makes it to the big screen.

However, the book by Max Brooks, which had a fresh view style at one point, the genre of the zombies now appears finally heading toward the grave for a while. Like "The Great Gatsby" earlier this summer the film has had more of its share of setbacks and rumors, as well as a platoon of writers in and out of the mix.  "Gatsby" proved well, "World War Z" not so much.

OA Z 4colBrad Pitt stars in "World War Z."lThe film starts out briskly enough with some scenes of the early zombie pandemic sweeping the globe in early cases, of course no one is calling it that yet.  The wide sweeping set-up and close to the film is about as close to the world wide scope Brooks' book encapsulated.  This film is more intent on solely following Brad Pitt and his family.  Pitt plays Gerry Lane a United Nations doctor, who has been around the block with worst outbreaks the world has seen. These days he is retired to spend time with his family until the outbreak appears closer to home.

I always love in the films how there is devastating global threat and there is only one doctor in retirement that can figure everything out.  Alas the plague hits far too close to home and for good as he and his wife Karin (Mirielle Cross) drive their kids to school in what turns out be a zombie riot in the streets of Philadelphia.  This is one of the many tension filled scenes in this film that does work well for this genre.  Gerry finds himself of course being recruited back his old boss Thierry (Fana Mokoena), after another close, but thrilling call with walking dead in a high rise. It's off to South Korea in an attempt to well… never mind.

There are quite a few theories of safety, knowledge, and prevention, thrown at the audience in this film, each with an actor delivering a few lines only disappear stage left, there theories soon behind them.  Brooks' book also had a great detail of this but not bunched into a two hour long film.  Director Marc Foster ( a very odd choice) has little time to do much other than work the film around a few of Brooks' ideas, Brad Pitt, and what is a strange hodge-podge created by an extensive and diverse writing team.  Believe it or not it almost still works to an extent.
"World War Z" may be structurally a mess, not even remotely close to clever concept of the novel's historical approach, and has very little time to create any memorable characters aside from Lane and an Israeli soldier played Daniella Kertesz, who appears late in the film (Kertesz is the only other performer in the film that stands out). Yet, strangely the film does has some pretty impressive visual landscapes of cities decimated or being decimated by the zombies and Foster does manage to truly create some fantastic tension filled scenes with the right horror zest such as a late scene involving Lane in zombie research center that almost has some chords of the “Alien” franchise working. 

"World War Z" seems set up for a franchise, and considering the chaos this first film went through and still remains compelling, but it could be a franchise to watch for in the future.