World War Z is a (typical) Hollywood summer blockbuster film about a zombie apocalypse and is loosely based on the 2006 novel of the same name by Max Brooks. The film stars Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane, a former United Nations investigator who must travel the world to find a way to stop a zombie-like pandemic. Although described as a apocalyptic zombie film it is looks more like a Hollywood summer blockbuster film about a Pandemic and is featuring zombies.
Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment secured the film rights in 2007 and Forster was approached to direct. In 2009, Carnahan was hired to rewrite the script to the film. Filming began in July 2011 in Malta on an estimated $125 million budget, before moving to Glasgow in August 2011 and Budapest in October 2011. Originally set for a December 2012 release, the production suffered some setbacks. In June 2012, the film’s release date was pushed back and the crew returned to Budapest for seven weeks of additional shooting. Damon Lindelof was hired to rewrite the third act, but did not have the time to finish the script and Drew Goddard was hired to rewrite it. The film’s original third act involved a massive zombie battle in Moscow during the winter, which lies in stark contrast to the to the final cut’s low-key climax – set in a World Health Organization building that has been partly overtaken by zombies.
Interestingly, the original third act began on a calmer note, and did not include the plane crash sequence – a major selling point in the World War Z marketing – that leaves protagonist Gerry Lane (Pitt) and his newly-acquired “sidekick” Segen (Daniella Kertesz) badly-injured and stranded a ways from civilization.
World War Z premiered in London on June 2, 2013 and was chosen to open the 35th Moscow International Film Festival. The film was released on June 21, 2013 in the United States in 2D and RealD 3D. The film was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $530 million on a $190 million budget. A sequel was cancelled during the film’s troubled filming process, but is now in development once again.
PlotRetired U.N. investigator Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his family are sitting in what appears to be a typical Philadelphia traffic jam when helicopters began to circle ominously overhead, and an explosion throws the city into panic. In the blink of an eye, the streets are consumed by chaos. When Gerry learns that the catalyst for the turmoil is a highly contagious virus that transforms those who contract it into rampaging maniacs, and that legions of the infected are growing on all continents, he agrees to join his former colleagues in discovering the source of the rampant plague so that his wife and two daughters will be guaranteed safety aboard a UN fleet in the Atlantic Ocean. Gerry reluctantly agrees to help and is sent to Camp Humphreys, a military base in South Korea.
Click to reveal full synopsis (Warning contains spoilers)
In Jerusalem, Gerry meets Director of Mossad Jurgen Warmbrunn (Ludi Boeken), who explains that the Mossad had months earlier intercepted communications from an army general in India, who stated that Indian troops were fighting the “rakshasa,” or “dead spirits.”
With this knowledge, the city quarantined itself. Jurgen then takes Gerry to the gates of the walls that were built by the Israelis after quarantining the city. The Israelis are allowing any survivors in to seek refuge inside the city. However, after hearing the loud singing and celebrations of the refugees within, the thousands of zombies outside begin forming massive piles like army ants, running and climbing over one another in an attempt to climb over the wall. Eventually, the zombies succeed in breaching the wall, and panic erupts everywhere as the infection spreads, with the military soon being overwhelmed. Jurgen orders Gerry’s escorts to accompany him to his airplane. During their escape, Gerry notices that an old man and an emaciated boy were ignored by the zombies. While fighting the horde, Gerry’s escort, an Israeli soldier who identifies herself only as “Segen” (Daniella Kertesz), is bitten by a zombie. Gerry quickly amputates her hand to stop the spread of the infection. Gerry and Segen are eventually forced to escape Israel on an airliner when Gerry’s pilot panics and flies away as the city population was left for dead.
Contacting Thierry, the pilots are diverted and set course for a WHO research facility in Cardiff, Wales. While in the air, a stowaway zombie escapes into the main cabin and attacks the passengers. The plane crashes after Gerry detonates a grenade to blow out all the zombies, the damage causing the pilots to lose control. Segen and Gerry proceed on foot as the only apparent survivors, although Gerry is critically injured after being impaled by aircraft debris in the crash. He loses consciousness upon arrival at the facility.
Three days later, Gerry awakens inside the main building of the facility and meets with the surviving staff. Gerry reveals a theory he has, based on the fact that the old man and the sickly boy were ignored: the infected do not bite people who are seriously injured or already terminally ill, since they would be unsuitable hosts for viral reproduction. He volunteers to inject himself with a terminal but curable pathogen to prove if his theory works. However, the wing of the building in which the pathogens are stored was overrun by zombies after a doctor accidentally infected himself. Gerry decides to go get a pathogen regardless, while Segen and the lead WHO doctor accompany him for backup. They fight their way through the zombies, and although Gerry is separated from Segen and the doctor (who were forced to return to the main building), he reaches the pathogen vault. After getting cornered inside the vault by a lone zombie, Gerry’s only course of action is to perform an impromptu test of his theory. He injects himself and opens the vault door— the zombie ignores him and later the entire horde runs past him. After he makes it back to the safe main building, everyone rejoices at his theory’s success, and they restock their supplies and journey to an extraction point.
Gerry returns to his family (who have adopted Tommy), now relocated off the ship and to a safe zone in Freeport, Nova Scotia. A “vaccine” derived from deadly pathogens is developed that acts as camouflage for the troops battling the infected, and fleeing survivors can now cross zombie-infested areas with ease to quarantine zones. Human offensives begin against the zombies, and hope is restored. Gerry comments, “This isn’t the end. Not even close.”
Our ThoughtsProduction problems, re-writes (including a third act restructuring by premier go-to-guy Damon Lindelof), and a ballooning budget, the smell of blood was in the air, and the critics were baying. it spelled a disaster that would have the critics crawling over each other to find the funniest words to describe its dreadfulness. As with John Carter before it, how disappointing it must have been to be presented with a half-decent movie. But fortunate World War Z turned out to be a pretty good movie, its not great but at least it was not as horrendous as Oblivion that came out earlier this year.
Of course if a movie is made out of a book that has a widespread fanbase the film is always going to be compared to the book. There are a few crossovers but this is a completely different and separate entity and has to be looked at on its own merits. I did enjoy this and it has some moments of great suspense as at times (part 1 and 2 of the film) it’s a lot like a chase movie. The scenes with the tens of thousands of zombies are excellent. Especially the climbing of the wall. However this movie is almost completely bloodless which is odd for a zombie movie and there are very few bits of people getting munched. Then again World War Z is more of a pandemic film than a foot dragging, flesh eating, living dead, rotting zombie film.
Overall World War Z is a worthwhile addition to the genre. Purists may despair at the lack of gore and the absence of threat (Romero’s original Dead series would never have indulged such an impervious and saintly hero), and readers at the departures from the novel. But mostly it should be enjoyed for what it is: a solid, Hollywood blockbuster action-adventure, moderately original in its style and scope, if not its predictable plot developments. Although I enjoyed the film, I enjoyed it more as a pandemic film than a foot dragging, flesh eating, living dead, rotting zombie film, because that is what it was.