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WORLD WAR Z (review)

Review by Joe Yezukevich
Produced by Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, 
Jeremy Kleiner, Ian Bryce
Screenplay by Matthew Michael Carnahan, 
Drew Goddard, Damon Lindelof
Story by Matthew Michael Carnahan, J. Michael Straczynski
Based on World War Z by Max Brooks
Directed by Marc Forster
Starring Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, 
Matthew Fox, David Morse, Fana Mokoena, Ludi Boeken

Paramount Pictures / Rated PG-13

Some say that falling asleep is the closest a person can come to death without actually dying.

I kept thinking about this during World War Z, a movie that constantly gives its audience the promise of something exciting, but never truly delivers that excitement. It is quiet-loud-quiet like a Pixies song but without the catchy riff that draws people back.

World War Z will try to shock you to death, but instead will just put you to sleep.

This kind of movie might have worked well 10 or 15 years ago, before audiences were exposed to the brutal, high-speed zombies in Zack Snyder’s 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake. At PG-13, it would have especially worked well if it was not being released after three riveting seasons of AMC’s The Walking Dead in which every week we watch characters change and grow as they try to survive a Basic Cable-approved zombie apocalypse.  

WWZ forgets that we have seen this all before and just rehashes old clichés for…what?

There is quite a bit of character interaction but nothing that comes close to the rich character development or interplay that is The Walking Dead.

It is 2013 and we have been given a shallow franchise blueprint, but in 3-D! That’s good for something, right?

Again, it’s been done better.

The movie starts in a Philadelphia kitchen where Brad Pitt is making breakfast for his family. He is a former UN special investigator whose main job now is making pancakes for his wife and two daughters.

As they start their day in Philly gridlock, they encounter police asking everyone to stay in their cars and – BLAM – the zombies appear and start spreading the disease. We watch as one person tries to escape, gets bitten and quickly contorts his way into becoming a member of the undead.

The family gets out of the city by driving a commandeered Winnebago to New Jersey. On the way, Brad Pitt’s former UN boss gets in touch with him, letting him know that this outbreak has spread worldwide and offering him and his family refuge on a navy vessel. After a devastating night in a New Jersey apartment, the family – now 5 strong due to the acquisition of a young boy whose family has been turned – gets a helicopter ride from a group of heavily armed Navy Seals, including one inexplicably played by Matthew Fox, to the Navy ship some 200 miles out at sea.

It is Fox’s only prominent time on screen, and it is a waste of a fairly talented actor whose name falls within the first several of the cast in the credits.

On the ship, Brad Pitt reluctantly agrees to reprise his role as investigator in order to track down a weakness to this seemingly viral outbreak in exchange for the safety of his family. He travels throughout the world, appearing almost Zelig-like as an observer in South Korea and Jerusalem, until finally getting to a World Health Organization facility in Cardiff, Wales.

 Inside the WHO building, the promise of this movie becoming a video game comes to life in what feels like a live action sequence of House of the Dead, without the surprises.

And in the end, World War Z really does just come off as a teaser for things to come. Brad Pitt’s character has a breakthrough in Cardiff that leads to the movie’s finish via his narration. T

he world he describes amounts to what might be a Clone Wars-style series of movies or games, but here just furthers the feeling that nothing has really happened since zombies started biting people. It just gets the audience exited for something else in the future.

Too bad they forgot to give the present anything to get excited about.

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