Going into World War Z I felt very conflicted. On one hand I love the Max Brooks novel that tells several stories about people’s tales of survival during a zombie apocalypse. On the other hand this movie, which focused on Brad Pitt’s character, looked nothing like Max Brooks original work, but it did look like it had the potential to be a good zombie film. Instead of slow shambling zombies, with a slow infection rate, the movie went with incredibly fast agile zombies that turned you into one of them within 12 seconds of being bitten. Both approaches have their merit, and both worked really well in their respective stories. If you’re looking for a good action horror flick, World War Z is going to be right up your alley.
One problem with some of the fast moving zombie films is that they usually have great action, but wind up missing some of the human element. This movie does a really good job of making me care about the various characters that you meet as they put their lives in peril trying to find a cure to stop the zombie pandemic. Without going into spoilers I’ll say that the movie does a pretty decent job convincing you that no one is safe. Brad Pitt plays Gerry Lane, a former UN operative that was the best at going into hostile countries and finding information. Throughout the film you’re constantly reminded that the only reason he’s doing any of this is to keep his family safe, and while this normally feels very hollow in other films, World War Z made it feel very believable.
This movie does have some minor issues that most people can easily overlook. My biggest quibble (and it really is a small detail) is distance and time. If the zombie plague started out in Asia, or Europe, how the heck did they get to America? Remember these are fast zombies with fast rate of infection. How is it even possible for them to get here? They make a passing comment in the movie that it must have happened by plane, but that makes zero sense. It’s one thing if the infection speed in this movie took hours after being bitten, but this took seconds. If there is an infected person on a plane, that plane should never make it into the air, let alone across an ocean.
That being said, the fast moving zombies added a lot of horror and anxiety to the film. I felt my heart race several times during the chase scenes watching the zombies tear through people infecting one after the other. There were a few times this movie made me jump a little. Another cool little thing is that the movie actually calls them zombies. So many movies of the genre refuse to acknowledge that the idea exists, but this film tackles it straight on.
In the end, this isn’t the Max Brooks movie I want, but World War Z is still a really good film. If you still have issues with it being called World War Z when it shouldn’t be, at least you can take solace in the fact that Max was probably paid well for the use of his name. One other thing to keep in mind is that the novel was a bunch of stories told from different people’s perspectives after the war was over. Perhaps if they ever do make a sequel they can be a bit more faithful to the source material and tell stories of survival, instead of telling us how the world was saved.