Excessive delays, rewrites, and reshoots are the kiss of death for just about any production. For the film adaptation of World War Z, it painted a vivid picture of an epic miscalculation from the outset. Fans of the book waited in the weeds to shout “I told you so” at the top of their lungs, while genre fans just hoped for something entertaining. In the end, both factions got their way.
The World War Z adaption is a vast departure from the book that follows Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) as he and his family witnesses the beginnings of a stateside zombie outbreak. Gerry, a former UN investigator, is able to secure safe haven for his family with the exception that he lead a team to discover the origins of the “disease” and help cultivate a cure.
As messy a movie as World War Z is more often than not, a more literal adaptation could have been equally messy, if not more so. Rather than masquerading as a scattershot anthology Marc Forster’s film plays out as though it were lost story from the book and taking visual cues from Max Brooks’ words to create some pretty spectacular set pieces. Sure the excessive CGI is pretty dodgy, but a pyramid of zombies is no doubt cool to look at.
As is the case with most blockbusters, logic is a constantly moving target- World War Z, like many others, rarely ever find the bullseye. However, Forster compensates by keeping a breakneck pace, never letting the focus be on the gibberish being uttered by allegedly smart characters. There’s brutality to the zombie attacks, but also a problematic lack of gore. More often than not the most damage zombies ever do is whiplash- caused by how hard and how fast they run into people like juiced up bumper cars. Beyond that, they only leave a mere bite impression on their victims. Not that we’re all sociopaths foaming at the mouth for disembowelment, but the effort being made to obscure or remove violence in the movie does become a little distracting.
For a movie that was probably pitched as nothing more than Brad Pitt globetrotting while running from uber fast zombies, World War Z could have been a monumental disaster. As an adaptation of Max Brooks’ novel the film does crash and burn, but succeeds by delivering some solid action sequences and a suspenseful third act. World War Z is essentially nothing more than a big dumb Hollywood actioner, but a fun one at that.