Brad Pitt worked closely with director Marc Forster to ensure the vision he saw for a big screen version of bestseller World War Z would work for film audiences. Fans of the Max Brooks novel should be forewarned -- although it captures the base story of the book, World War Z the movie is a wholeheartedly different animal.
The first World War Z trailer may have teased the story of Pitt’s Gerry, a U.N. worker who is charged with chronicling how a virus that turns humans into zombies started so we can stop it. But in the opening moments of the film -- as credits roll -- it raises larger issues about overpopulation and global warming. Forster even lets his audience know that the struggle for survival in this film is no different than the laws of nature: Kill or be killed.
A scientist who is traveling with Pitt even puts more of a fine point on it: "Mother Nature is a serial killer."
As the plot itself commences, we meet Pitt and his wife, Karin (an excellent, but slightly underused Mireille Enos). They are enjoying an average American morning of young children awaking their parents and the subsequent serving of family breakfast. Pitt is now retired from the U.N. and his work of diving into volatile areas where danger lurks around every corner.
The action quickly moves to the streets of Philadelphia where the family is out for a jaunt. Horror strikes quickly… what was hinted at in news accounts on radio and television is now front and center. Something (reporters wonder if it is rabies) has infected humans and to say it is swarming through the population is a gross understatement.
This World War Z clip shows those moments that firmly set the tone of saving one's family versus saving the world. It’s the classic think globally and act locally, yet turned on its head. Pitt leaves his family because if he cannot stop this epidemic, they will likely die anyway.
World War Z packs a lot of shock and awe, particularly in the design and established mythology of how zombies wreak a potential apocalypse. But it also shows humankind at its best and worst. It should spawn a discussion that should end with the question: What would you do? But, let’s not get too somber. World War Z is a pure popcorn movie, and never takes itself too seriously.
When Pitt leaves his family behind to head out into the war zone that will decide the future of humanity, Forster is trying to fan fires of compassion from his audience as Gerry and our story head into the second act. Does it work? Well, read on…
Movie Fanatic has a slight issue with the dropping of the family itself into the background of the story, only highlighted when Gerry calls home. After establishing the family as the motivation for Pitt’s heroism, it would have made more sense to have them be more integral into the story. Therefore, we could have taken his sacrifice more seriously.
Pitt’s investigation starts in South Korea where an email 12 days before our story began was received talking of “zombies.” He then heads to Israel, in what could be perceived as a political statement about the Middle East. In World War Z, the Jewish homeland has been doing the best against the undead as they are surrounded by an enormous wall. Hmm...
We have to give the special effects team kudos. These are zombies unlike we’ve ever seen before. They move in insect-like swarms, faster than one can imagine.
Our World War Z review thinks that those who treasure the book may be disappointed in what they see onscreen. In the novel Gerry is chronicling what has already happened, while in the film he is integral to the action itself. Is that such a bad thing? Fans will decide, and thus the box office. But, the change was necessary as the straight novel would not be the most of cinematically powerful pieces.
Also, we have to state that In World War Z -- science is the hero. In a world where the importance of the sciences is reduced, although the film overall is somewhat flawed, we’ll love the celebration of the high ground given to our world’s best and brightest in Forster’s film.