Film Review: “World War Z”

The PG-13 rating makes “World War Z” the most bloodless zombie movie ever made.


Review by David Feltman

“Movement is life.”

Max Brooks’ faux oral history of the zombie apocalypse might have been turned into the greatest Ken Burns style faux documentary ever. Instead, Brad Pitt’s passion project gets subverted into a more traditional (read bland) hero’s journey. Pitt travels around the zombie-ridden globe looking for clues on how to stop the outbreak. There’s not even really a war.

Most of the film’s problems stem from being too box office minded. The PG-13 rating makes “World War Z” the most bloodless zombie movie ever made. Characters only ever mention zombies biting and even when characters get impaled or have body parts lopped off, there’s not a drop of blood. Rather than being fully fleshed characters, cast members are just used as plot devices to move Pitt to the next big action set piece. The movie always places spectacle over story, leaving gaping plot holes and robbing the film of the sort of suspense in which classic zombie flicks trade.

The sound design in the film is exceptional, however. The pre-recorded voice of a talking stuffed animal is used to great effect in underscoring the opening outbreak sequence. Creepy zombie croaks and the incessant fluttering of flickering fluorescent lights squeeze as much suspense as possible from the film’s cold, empty veins. Even the synthy piano score offers some retro throwback love, with the film’s central theme sounding like a cross between John Carpenter and Dario Argento.

As far as the spectacle goes, some of the action sequences do deliver the goods, but a few big explosions and a good sound track aren’t enough to sustain a two-hour movie. Even the most ardent zombie fans will have a hard time staying entertained as the zombies flop around on the floor and fly through the air like crazed salmon or demon possessed dolphins. The 3D adds nothing to the experience. With so many other good zombie films out there, you may want to skip “World War Z,” stay home and watch “Dawn of the Dead” again.

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