Review: ‘World War Z’


Is Hollywood’s latest zombie movie offering worth your hard-earned money?

A few years ago, I read an amazing book entitled World War Z by Max Brooks. It was a new take on the classic zombie genre that I thoroughly enjoyed. Years after the zombie apocalypse hits, a journalist travels around the world interviewing survivors of the outbreak in an attempt to better understand what happened in each corner of the globe.

The book was brilliant. Each chapter covered a different story in a different part of the world, allowing the reader to become immersed in this fictional world where they feel like zombies actually rose up and made a mess of humanity.

7 years after the release of this book, World War Z finally hit the big screen as an adaptation, and here’s what I have to say:

It’s not just good. It’s actually pretty great.

Is it like the book? No. The movie shares very little with the book, which almost works in its favor. Instead of tediously comparing the two mediums, I was able to enjoy the movie for what it was, and it was pretty fantastic.

Set in a near-future scenario where zombies have come about as a result of a rabies-like infection we’ve all seen before in these films, a former U.N. investigator travels the world in order to find the origin of the mutation and a possible path to a cure.

The investigator, played by Brad Pitt, is doing all of this in order to ensure the safety of his wife and two daughters, whom he leaves behind with the Navy. The deal? If he goes on this perilous journey, the U.N. will allow his family to remain with them safely.

The movie benefits from not making itself strictly a survival story. We get some of that initially with Brad Pitt’s character, Gerry, getting his family to safety, but then the movie shifts gears and tone in order to keep things moving. And it works.

The movie soon plays out as an action-heavy adventure filled with multiple genre offerings. Set piece after set piece offers a unique, intense experience that keeps the audience gripped throughout. I praise the movie on its ability to fully maximize its budget, taking us to multiple settings filled with great special effects.

For a movie that is PG-13 and thus avoids gore and intense profanity, I found myself pleasantly surprised by how well it still delivered the action. Turns out we don’t need buckets of blood to enjoy a good zombie movie.

There are elements of the movie that turn out pretty weak, including various plot holes and allusions to situations that seemed more interesting than the ones we were exposed to (North Korea’s solution to the pandemic, for example). The ending was also quite mismatched with the rest of the film, leaving me with the feeling that they should have just drawn the movie out into two parts.

Seriously, I actually wanted a sequel. By the end, you can tell that they’re rushing the plot as the two-hour mark quickly approaches, making the ending feel shallow and undeserved. Still, that’s just testament to how good the first two acts are.

Is World War Z worth watching? Yes. It’s highly entertaining and at times, kind of intelligent. It felt more like a blockbuster than Man of Steel if that tells you anything.


6 thoughts on “Review: ‘World War Z’

  1. I didn’t know I was looking for a review on World War Z until I came across yours (I’ve just stumbled here from your Pixar Theory post, which was very nice), and I enjoyed this read as well. Having watched the movie a couple days ago, I definitely share some similar thoughts on the matter. The thing about the book is that it’s really a documentation – a good one! – and it would’ve been hard to capture that in a cinematic sense, no? At least that’s what I thought. Anyway, the movie itself was really interesting. You’re right that it’s more than a ‘survival’ story. It was a bit more than that in the sense that it humanized it. I noticed there wasn’t too much gore, too much blood (the occasional shock factor).

    Question – how would you have split up the movie? Where would the first part have ended and where would the second part end? I thought it went rather well, although certain elements (like the discovery of Mother Nature’s ‘weakness’) went quickly as you mentioned. Just curious.

    • I thought it should have ended after they survived the plane crash and were saved by the scientists. The last act was just so…lackluster. I felt like they could have drawn that out into a more worthy sequel, giving Pitt’s character more to do around the globe. Still, I am less disappointed weeks after watching it.

  2. there’s are really good interview with max brooks and neil deGrasse Tyson on the new star talk radio podcast. i’m glad they didn’ t mess u p the book, but took a different view on it. now i’m gonna see thanks for the review.

  3. um… I heard that there actually will be a sequel??

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