When trailer of the Brad Pitt starrer, World War Z was shown in cinemas, I was taken aback. Sorry, what’s the title again? World War What? It sounded…weird that I felt uneasy for such a movie for Brad Pitt, whom we last heard in Happy Feet Two, and seen in Moneyball. What the heck, zombies again? Haven’t we had enough of the killing and the mayhem in The Walking Dead series (waiting for Season 4 in October!)?
No offense to author Max Brooks, who wrote the novel with the same title in 2006. It’s just that, the title doesn’t bite at all, just the title. The same feeling I had with Tom Cruise’s War of the Worlds written by H.G. Wells. Nevertheless, director Marc Forster loosely adapted the novel and transformed it into one commercial success, making it the biggest opening for its main actor Brad Pitt. Few of us are aware that Pitt also produced this, through his Plan B Entertainment film outfit.
World War Z has received a generally positive response from film critics, and the audience alike. The critics are convinced of Pitt’s performance (though not his best) and the audience loved its “fresh take on the zombies” – running, and running fast, and overly sensitive ‘monsters’. Others are still not convinced though that the “virus-infected humans” can ran fast – a big departure from its predecessors in The Night of the Living Dead – with Zombies moved slow and are weak, gross, yet scary.
Is it because of the popularity of the zombies in the past years? And guess what, before CandyCrush came to our midst, and after mastering the art of running, sliding and jumping in Temple Runs 1&2, we succumbed ourselves playing Plants vs. Zombies. And we hate it when they suddenly grew in number, and “threated us to eat our brains.” Alonso Duralde of The Wrap said, “For all its effectiveness at portraying the horror of possible human extinction, the film’s actual humans are so soulless that this could just as well be the movie version of the video game Plants vs. Zombies.” I disagree, I would still love to see a version of this video game converted into a movie.
But none of these slow-moving and brain-eating zombies are present in the movie. Rather, tons and billions of fast-running “undead” climbing the walls of Israel, causing the teeth-pull outs in South Korea, and creating a pandemonium of some sorts in Philadelphia. And as always, fans of the book and the Brooks, “may be annoyed by how thoroughly it diverges from the source material.”
But guess what, just like what a moviegoer said after the movie, I never thought it can be as thrilling and exciting as I expected it to be. The movie may have put Brad Pitt as the “only good looking actor” in the film, but he delivered a solid performance, making zombie movies cool, again. No funny lines, witty outtakes, or exciting characters – it was just Brad Pitt (and his good looks) in his version of Will Smith’s I Am Legend.
What made this movie successful is perhaps, the story’s establishment of the drama among the hero, his family, and his role to find cure. We have the usual hero, “who is called to save the world” A number of movies have tried this kind of plot, but was just too much. (Remember the Die Hard series?) Moviegoers enjoyed the film because of the smart, gripping, fast-paced sequences.
Despite the production problems (which we couldn’t care less as long as the movie has been done), is it the movie that good for a sequel? Producer Pitt, hinted something about the book that needs explored more. In a premiere night in Moscow, Russia, he said that, “There is enough [material] to mine from the book,” he said. “We could barely get a fraction of the book in [this movie]. So we’ll see. We’ll see.”