FAIRLY SPOILER FREE
When I say 'I like Zombie films' I realise, now, that I am talking about really only a handful of movies. George A Romero's original trilogy, Lucio Fulci's Zombie, The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue, Re-Animator, The Return of the Living Dead and that's more or less it. There are probably a few more I am not thinking of right now and probably a few from the genre's heyday that I haven't seen yet but I list these films merely to shed light on where and who this review is coming from.
Notice how I didn't include 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later. Both films I like very much but, to me, they are NOT zombie films. They are post-apocolyptic infection films but they are NOT zombie films. People get infected while living, the dead don't rise from their graves and the infected don't die before they come back with the 'rage' contamination.
I mention this because World War Z is NOT a zombie film (in my mind). NOT AT ALL
It is basically the story of a world wide violent rage/rabies infection seen through the eyes of one perpetually stoned, lank haired, hipster scarf wearing, former UN investigator played by Brad Pitt.
I am not sure I have ever seen a film with such massive, global set pieces that is so utterly bland and underwhelming. This is not to say it's an altogether BAD film because it's not but it's not anything special either. It lacks a sense of humour, a sense of style, a decent soundtrack, engaging characters or any cool at all.
Since zombie films and zombie film remakes became tediously the rage in the last 10 years the genre has distinctly lacked any cool. The zombie films of the seventies and eighties are still popular today because they had iconic soundtracks, great lines spoken by characters you liked, disliked or had a complex series of mixed emotions about, they had metaphor and meaning, style and substance and fantastic gore.
World War Z really doesn't have any of that. What it does have is a global scale, some nice tension at the beginning, a cameo from David Morse that could've gone on MUCH longer and some weak underlying message about how we should all just get along. It feels more like a bland alien invasion movie.
Brad Pitt is hideously miscast, misdressed and woefully haired. He was about as convincing a UN investigator as Denise Richards was a nuclear physicist (in The World Is Not Enough). He was also bland as a beige pair of slacks on a wax model of a local news anchor from Des Moines.
To improve this film you should've cast a ton of people and instead of just following 1 man, who seemingly doesn't eat or sleep for a week as he travels from South Korea to Wales and everywhere in between, you follow lots of people around the world all detailing the outbreak in their own way. That at least would allow for some characters. Say what you like about mindless tat like Independence Day or 2012 but at least they have a sense of humour and are fantastically entertaining.
The film attempts to seriously portray what it would be like if an infection took over the human race and turned us into canabalistic rage monkeys. It also attempts to have a story that wraps up in a predictable 'satisfying' way, some set pieces on a grand scale that you haven't seen before and some wishy-washy guff about how we should work together and, in that regard, it's a complete success.
The CGI is not terrible or annoying, it is shot and edited competently and at least the first act attempts some tension and the last act attempts to be a bit more exciting. It does have one scene though that proves that, even in the midst of apocalypses, mobile phones are fucking annoying.
It thinks it's way smarter and better than it is when really it's all just too serious and a bit dull. It's, also, weirdly, one of the most bloodless films of its kind in existence (obviously to capitalise on the recent zombie craze and pack em in at all ages!).
If you're still curious then it is worth one watch and maybe I am just jaded and burnt out but I was watching the film thinking, if this had anyone else in the lead and a Goblin soundtrack this would already be 10 times better.
5 out of 10 bloodless dry steaks in a beige sack