Spoiler Alert. I mean: if you really dare to go that movie, do it; but be warned: it’s worse I could ever have imagined.
I bought Max Brooks’ book World War Z one day after seeing the first trailer on iTunes. I had it on my wishlist anyway and the story looked promising so I spent the 10€ for an original version (as you might notice, my English is far from native, as you might’ve guessed, I’m German). I read it within 7 days and my opinion was better than the average: a Zombie novel but with a great twist. Not the usual pulp story you could’ve expected.
World War Z is a story about a world wide catastrophy, told in short stories, as seen by individuals, assembled chronologically, spanning a time frame of around 10 years. It’s told from an outsider’s perspective. There are some classical horror elements in the novel, there are some of the old fashioned Zombie cliches but what makes the book outstanding are many fine tuned innovative ideas of the genre. To give you some ideas:
Zombies freeze during winter and thew in spring. That means, winter is a good time to hunt for their heads. Zombies die when their heads are ripped off
Survivors build swimming islands out of rogue ships and all vessels that can swim. One of the book’s major boiling points is set on one of those islands.
The “battle of Yonker”, a huge military confrontation in the beginning of the Zombie war, is a repeated motive in the book. Many individuals refer to it as it is the turning point of human hope: after the army got overrun they burn the place down with a thermobare weapon. Afterwards humanity has given up themselves. The book mainly evolves around the aftermath of the Yonker confrontation: if people stand together they find a way to find their way out. As it turns out the solution is simpler and much more obvious than in any Zombie story ever: go from house to house, rip Zacks head off and proceed to the next.
What Mr Pitt and his bunch of nobrainer producers / storywriters / directors have made out of the original story is a ridiculous attempt to resemble that story in a Hollywood movie. I mean, I’ve seen many bad and even worse movies over the last decade. And don’t get me wrong. Brad Pitt is an outstanding actor as he made clear in Fight Club and Snatch. If World War Z would just be a bad movie, I’d be okay with it. But it’s worse. In the beginning 4 studios present their logo: a great indicator that there have been lots of interests involved. Then the story starts right into the spreading in Philadelphia. From one second to another Gerry (the name the studio gave the main character that stays completely unmentioned in the written story) is confronted with hordes of rogue Zombies. So far so good, I thought – it’s the way the movie could’ve been predictable.
What follows are two hours of a hide and seek ongoing slaughter mess that takes some of the fighting places from the novel (esp. Jerusalem) and mixes them with a few pictures borrowed by the original (some marine ships forming the military headquarter of the world’s last defense line). Gerry got ripped from his family – and Pitt makes clear that he’s the awesome family father he is in real live (I hope he is and I want to believe so). Hug your daughter, hug her again, tell my family I love her, calls his darling every day.
C’mon. This is a Zombie story, the world’s coming to an end, the original being written in a documentary style, just reporting. We’ve seen love and lose love stories over the past 60 decades and I can’t tell you how fed up I’m with the cliche of a neat American 4-heads family. We know that America an Mr Pitt wants to tell us that the family is the middle of your life. What’s worse is, you simply won’t buy it from these actors. And actually Gerry’s wife heats up the situation by don’t wanting her own husband to save the WORLD but to protect their two little “babies”, one badly performing an asthma attack. And for the tale to be told the family background is absolutely unnecessary it just had to be scripted to follow along the typical story line of a movie made and produced in bloody California! Just to remind you: the character of Gerry is a bare addition to the original material – there is absolutely no hint of his familiarly bonds and therefore no believable background can be seen behind Pitt’s acting. I simply couldn’t care about any of the daughters: if you’d cut them out, the story wouldn’t have lost anything!
From minute 30 onwards The movie gets worse every second. Jerusalem gets overrun because a pile of Zombie overfloods the 20m high protecting walls after hearing a loud noise from the inside. Check, done the effects rotuine, spent the money on CGI, camera runs like in Black Hawk Down (“Why are they burning tyres?”). Before that: Pitt visits South Korea, got caught up by a rogue military squad that refills his “personal” plane (I didn’t get what’s so special about that Gerry character that he’s sent alone with a couple of shitheads in uniform plus the youngest viral professor around the world to find the roots of all evil when reports just said that the president and all administration is dead, Washington’s lost) with gasoline, after the last hope for humanity – a 23 year old medical specialist for viruses shoots himself in the head – got lost (no word of that situation in the original of course, event though it’s one of the few memorable moments in the movie). Pitt seems to get a hint of a solution in the Jerusalem scene (o gosh, no, please don’t give a “magic” solution, sinking deeper into my seat) but then he has to crash the Belorussian plane he got on last minute after a flight attendant unleashes a single Zombie from the plane’s food elevator with an Israeli hand-grenade, right after tearing off his female (nominated as worst actress in a no talking role) sidekicks arm with something that looks like a dagger from the Hitlerjugend (sorry for that, that was tasteless, I’ll delete it if you urge me to).
At that point another humilating fact shows up very clear: The PG-13 rating (in Germany it got an FSK16, I still wonder why not 12). There’s nearly no blood spilled in the movie. There are lots of corpses flying through the air, there are great makeup effects and there are shootouts but besides some drops of a scatter wound on Pitt’s sleeve no blood at all. While I like that fact pretty much (gore nowadays leads to clear B-movie ratings and I’m absolutely fed up with it) it feels unrealistic in the scenes where it could’ve been helpful.
The “grand finale” ends up fulfilling the Zombie genre where Max Brooks ingeniously tried to avoid tapping into the trap of the unavaoidable “healing” theory of a Zombie “virus”: if you infect yourself with another deadly virus the Zombies will simply not be able to “see” you anymore. Guys, come on. This is even greater bullshit than any badass conspiracy theory about an super-powered umbrella corporation arising from “milestones” of B-movies called Resident Evil. Max Brooks’ Zombie contagion is meant to un-heal-able, spelt as in un-avoid-able. There is no remedy besides (I did quote that already): going from house to house and rip Zacks’ heads off (in the book some guerrilla platoon invents the “Lobotomizer“, a motive that the movie tries to pick up when Pitt arms himself with a gun, a knife and a newspaper). No need to fall back to that old explanation pattern.
The reason why I’m writing all this is not so much about the disappointing 110 minutes starting from minute 10 where all begins to drift off but mainly the last two. Pitt returns to his family that found shelter in “Nova Scotia”. If you read the book carefully you know: this place would’ve been badly devastated. Not by Zack – Zombies might freeze in that area – but by the people living there, cooking and feeding their children with American Stew prepared out of their grandparents’ remainders.
Instead the last minutes Brad “Gerry” Pitt talks about “hope” and about “fighting” and, worst of it all: about “the war goes on“. If that means, that you’re planning to create a trilogy out of the bullshit your high paid script writers made out of the novel, be sure: you will not be able to lure any additional penny out of my pocket for going to one of your movies again! What follows is a flash-cut overview of fighting scenes that could’ve been shown in the movie anyway but didn’t. The producers obviously didn’t want to put them in there in hope they could reuse them in Word War Z Part II and III. Hopefully there isn’t a “Hobbit” tale afterwards. Sigh. It’s only about the money then, isn’t it?
BTW: do WHO clinics in Wales have chargers for satellite telephones made in America in stock?
So, today I paid €22,70 + 3€ for parking fees for the shit that you made me wait for nearly half a year and made me write these words of hate (and believe me: if my English would be better you would understand my point far better). Here are 5+ options how to spend that money in a better way:
1) give it to the American Association of Journalists and authors: http://www.asja.org/index.php
2) give it to the one laptop per child initiative so kids can grow up with more content in their skull than your bloody scripters: http://one.laptop.org/
3) Give it to a future oriented initiative like the Intl Counsil for Science: http://www.icsu.org/future-earth
4) Fight cancer or some other sickness
5) Save gorillas in Africa, support anti-rifle initiatives in the U.S., Send people to the moon
B) buy the original and never touch the movie: http://www.amazon.com/World-Market-Movie-Tie-In-Edition/dp/0770437400/
Never. NEVER! Make this kind of movie again. For the sake of humanity. Don’t do it.