If anyone has read the book (and I would recommend it – it’s a good book) I should say this – the movie is NOTHING like the book.
I somehow managed to walk into this film with no inkling that it was about Zombies. I’m fairly sure that I didn’t just spoil the film for anyone, as a cursory glance at the film’s poster shows quite clearly that the film is about Zombies. Produced by Brad Pitt’s own production company so that he could have a movie with him in it that his kids could watch, there was something of a bidding war between Pitt’s company and Leonardo Di Caprio’s production company for the rights to make a film out of the book.
Since the last film I saw about zombies was one of the resident evil films (the one with Mila Jovovich and Sienna Guillory – both gorgeous ex-models… and somehow that film was still unwatchable) my expectations were extremely low. World War Z exceeded those expectations considerably. In fact, this is a pretty decent film… to a point. That point is somewhere near the end, where the film ends quite abruptly. Imagine the sensation you felt when watching the third Lord of the Rings film, and you were never quite sure if the film was ending, and then it kept going, and then it looked like it was going to end, then kept going. This feeling was the opposite of that.
I did find out why this was the case. Shooting of the film had foolishly begun before the writing of the film had been completed. As a result, several different endings were shot, and re-shot, and eventually spiralling costs meant that the executive producers basically told them to “stop the film” and so they did. One uptick of this kind of ending is that it is sudden enough that you don’t realise just how bad it is that it ended like that, and all you remember about the film were the good bits – which were most of the bits to be fair – so a sequel is almost guaranteed (and indeed, has been confirmed).
I enjoyed it. The book is told as a series of interviews conducted after the zombie war. What’s clever about the book is that these interviews are arranged in such a way that a fairly chronologically-faithful recounting of the war is given through these stories, and by interviewing many different people, different perspectives of similar events are given, and a large and detailed picture of the zombie war eventually forms in the reader’s head. For reasons which are quite obvious, the film’s writers chose to go with a lead character (played by Pitt) who plays a UN investigator (a nod to the interviewer’s character in the original book) whose job it is to learn about the zombies and find a vaccine. His journey, although considerably more urgent (which works for a film) roughly mirrors a selection of interview from the book… it’s actually quite clever.
The zombies are some of the realest zombies I’ve ever seen in any film. Being a bit of a science nerd, I’ve always wondered how a zombie apocalypse would really happen, since anything moving slowly (and so obviously) would be fairly easy to contain. The film answers this with relatively fast-moving and aggressive zombies (in the book, the zombies are aggressive, though not as fast). Of course, as the story unfolds and more information is gathered, the investigator struggles to stay ahead of the outbreak itself, which depicts zombies swarming a bit like I imagine locusts would.
The ending differs significantly from the book, and even though I understand why it happened like that, I still think it leaves the franchise in an awkward position. For those who have read the book (and this gives nothing away about the book or the movie) I feel like they should have ended the film with the incident at Yonkers, and then they could have started the second film at the third section of the book, perhaps with the town of Hope. I will be very interested to see how the writers (who seem very capable of creating an exciting, engaging film… but not so good at ending one) approach the sequel to World War Z.
I did use a movie voucher to watch this film at a heavily discounted price, but I wouldn’t have minded paying for it. It is enjoyable, and a decent notch above “standard” brain-dead action films (ha ha, see what I did there?).