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Quality and Fiction vs. Reality; World War Z Film Review


Release Date: June 21st, 2013

Studio: Paramount Pictures, Skydance Productions, Plan B Entertainment

Running Time: 1hr 56 mins.

Production Budget: An easy 200 million dollars

Director: Marc Forster

Writers: (In order of production) J. Michael Straczynski (story), Matthew Michael Carnahan (1st rewrite), Damon Lindelof (script doctor), and Drew Goddard (further re-writes)

Source Material: Based upon the book “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War” by Max Brooks

Starring: The one and only William Bradley ”Brad” Pitt

Tagline: Remember Philly! (IMDB proves that experts aren’t always right)

Plot: United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to destroy humanity itself.

Bias: Free-Advanced Screening/ Warry of production woes/ Not having read the source material for comparison.

Review: Just like any audience member all that I want is a good return on investment; time wise, money wise or some combination of both. A feature film a film can succeed if its critically acclaimed or commercially successful, but money is usually the bottom line in Hollywood. Fortunately in both cases, my advanced screening of World War Z was free, it wasn’t overly long and as a bonus I felt quite entertained.

What sells me this film initially as a moviegoer is the mystery surrounding the film both narrative and production wise; and the questions it poses , what is the source of the outbreak? How is this effecting everyone and how are certain countries dealing with it? What is the cure? Is there a cure? What perplexes me as an industry analyst is why certain decisions were made regarding the production of the film. Why, for instance would you hire an indie director with only a little mainstream experience (Quantum of Solace) to direct such a large scale film? Or why on earth would you hire Damon Lindelof to write something that needed an ending? Not all these questions get answered but the film is sufficient enough.

There hasn’t ever been a zombie film on this scale before so this is something at least slightly new and ambitious. I can’t say I respect the choice made for it to be an adaptation in name only because I have yet to read the book, and the original script was so well heralded. At least the political subtext lives on in the original source material, and can be be adapted later into a perhaps better film, that maybe shouldn’t be tailor made for a mainstream blockbuster audiences. I wouldn’t call this a big dumb zombie movie either as it seems like a cheap oversimplification. Funny enough that is what the movie is in regards to its source material.

Brad Pitt tries to help Daniella Kertesz keep it together as he’s in over his head at 30,000 feet.

There were a lot of compromises made for this film, as evidenced by the script doctor leaving the film, the entire third act being replaced, and various re-shoots. The political subtext is nowhere to be found, and various characters are introduced and never show up again. All this was meant to be done in service of the movie and for the most part works. Each character feels real and two dimensional or is at least interesting, the film is well paced. It isn’t glaringly obvious this film has holes unless you decide to sit back and think about it after the film is done. There are no major tonal issues or character defects here, but the film does change direction and speed a bit.

I have two gripes about this film; one is the Lindelof trademark of characters either getting caught in stupid situations or making stupid decisions to advance the plot, which isn’t as annoying as it was in ‘Prometheus’ or ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ but enough to make you roll your eyes. The other gripe is that because this is a straight-forward action-thriller there is nothing for your brains to feast on afterwards. This is digestible B-Level entertainment.

Steven Spielberg and George Lucas recently spoke at a USC conference predicting a film industry implosion. Production companies are spending more and more money on fewer and fewer films, and all its going to take is a few of them to bomb before everything comes crashing down (Say for instance; this film, The Lone Ranger, and Pacific Rim). The problem with this film is that quality wise it is not a great return on investment for it’s 200 million+ hollywood price tag or a $15 theatre ticket for the audience, I wouldn’t pay full price for this movie in pointless 3D, but I’m sure a compromise of some sorts can be worked out.

Verdict: B/+1/ Worth seeing on cheap Tuesday but not in 3D

Tidbits:

  • If Brad Pitt is playing mostly himself in this movie he is an unreasonably nice and super-lucky guy.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio was in a bidding war against Mr. Pitt for the rights to this film.
  • Pacing is much in the vein of Dmitry Glukhovsky’s book and its video game adaptation ‘Metro 2033’.
  • Brad Pitt effectively describes martial law to his on-screen 8 year old “It’s like house rules, but for everyone.”
  • 85 Prop weapons used in the film were seized by Hungarian counter terrorism units after failing to clear them with local authorities. The assault rifles, sniper rifles and handguns were found to be fully functional but the charges were dropped after it was unable to be determined who was criminally liable. The ordeal apparrently greatly upset Pitt.
  • It was reported, according to the Joblo Movie Network that during late production Brad Pitt and Marc Forster are no longer on speaking terms.
  • Bryan Cranston, Ed Harris, and Matthew Fox were originally attached to this film but dropped out due to scheduling conficts.

*all tidbits and factoids not otherwise referenced are to be found on the film’s, wikipedia page, IMDB page

**Anyone who would rather not read future reviews be sure to notify me, right before you go “FUCK YOURSELF!”

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This entry was written by filmgamer and published on June 19, 2013 at 4:05 am. It’s filed under Film Review. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

4 thoughts on “Quality and Fiction vs. Reality; World War Z Film Review

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