I always find it interesting when I hear people lament about the Zombie genre running its course. Though the genre has lost a step or two since George A. Romero unleashed Night of the Living Dead, the increasing success of the series The Walking Dead proves there is still lots life left in the realm of the dead. This is why it is not surprising to see a film like World War Z do so well at the box office this past summer. It is a zombie infused thriller that hits the ground running and rarely pauses to catch its breath.
Like most contemporary films about the undead, World War Z spends most of its time moving from one elaborate action sequence to the next. Loosely based on the Max Brook’s novel of the same name, the film’s plot is as basic as it gets. A former UN specialist, Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), is reluctantly pulled back into the fold when a zombie outbreak not only threatens his family, but the entire world. As with most films of this nature, the characters, outside of Gerry, are rather thinly written as the plot is mostly concerned with the zombies themselves. Converting within seconds of being biting, the undead in the film are rabid and unrelenting.
Director Marc Forster embraces the fast moving zombie aesthetic to the point where the zombies pounce on their prey with Superman-like speed. It helps to create a chaotic, and at times claustrophobic, atmosphere in the film. While Forster does offer edge of your seat thrills, the film is a good of example of the empty calories that come with many summer popcorn films. World War Z is a lot of fun while you are watching it, but quickly leaves your mind once the film is done. This is partly due to the zombies themselves.
Forster falls into the common trap of thinking that the zombies are actually the most interesting part of this genre. Sadly they never have been. After a while, there are only so many ways you can make zombies exciting. This is evident by how quickly the film becomes repetitive. Forster fails to realize that it is the dissolving of societal order that is the most fascinating aspect of any good zombie story. There is something both terrifying and captivating about seeing mankind in its most primal form. It is chilling to think of a lawless landscape where your fellow man is just as dangerous as the zombies roaming the streets. For a globetrotting film, World War Z only touches on this aspect in the first, and arguably best, half of the film. The rest of the picture gets bogged down with image such as hoards of CGI zombies climbing on top of one another in an attempt to strike their prey.
Although World War Z does not offer much outside of zombie infused action sequences, the film does manage to satisfy on a pure entertainment level. World War Z is enjoyable for what it is but, like several of the blockbusters from this past summer, it will promptly leave your memory a few hours later.