When I see a movie in theaters, I will write the five things you need to know about it.
5 Things You Need to Know About…
WORLD WAR Z
1. World War Z is a scintillating and exhilarating professional summer movie experience. In what appears to be an entire world infected by a nasty zombie bite, Brad Pitt’s character of Gerry Lane declares that “movement is life” and Marc Forster delivers a picture that embodies such a credo. World War Z is paced like an Olympic relay race with Brad Pitt as the baton passed from country to country on a hunt for potential crumbs of an outbreak containment solution. Moments to take a breath or to reflect on the magnitude of what has transpired are fleeting and infrequent – any stall could mean death in the world of the play or in the momentum of the movie – but through the lens of the delicate, but strong performance from Pitt, we are able to tune out the wild screams of the pursuant undead and focus on the task at hand.
2. Speaking of Brad Pitt, the power of his obvious visual charisma has never been questioned, but some of his past performances haven’t exactly jumped out of the screen. Here, he wears his middle age with a wisdom and stature that perhaps he is finally earned. Screenwriters are smart to not cloud his character with too muddy a backstory (there is no clichéd drinking problem or past infidelity). We are given permission to see him affectionately as simply a dad trying to finish a job so he can get back to his family. He is honorable, courageous, and real. In a movie centered on the pace and movement of the plot, the stillness and contemplative experience we have with Pitt’s Gerry throughout is what takes World War Z to that next level.
3. In a Zombie nation comparison, World War Z encompasses everything that was successful about the Frank Darabont-led first season of The Walking Dead while avoiding all of the pitfalls and horrible characters that have poisoned the waters of subsequent seasons of the AMC mega-hit. In World War Z, we do not want moms to die because they are too annoying (Mireille Enos unexpectedly delivers as Brad Pitt’s wife – for anyone who has spent any time in the rain-addled depression pit that is her performance on The Killing – this is a major surprise). In World War Z, child characters are endearing and sometimes even useful. In World War Z, we appreciate that it seems like there are people out there who are trying to take meaningful action against the world zombification. In World War Z, there is no governor and there are no governor and Rick standoffs (praise!). Pitt and other Z characters get that “movement is life” and would never consider hiding out in a prison or a farm for months at a time. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, World War Z feels like the actual world we are living in in the way people talk, communicate, and feel. It is a credible vision of the “what if” of such an outbreak and the audience is subsequently riveted from the opening credits.
4. There is an important uncredited performance in the movie (even “uncredited” in the way the camera and actor try not to focus on each other), but, as fan of the actor and the iconic role he recently played, his appearance provides some solace in a most chaotic of worlds, especially when a plane crashes into the climax of the movie. (If you want to find out about what actually happened with it, read here. Despite a substantially reduced role, I appreciated his presence.)
5. World War Z is a riveting ride of a summer movie whose production troubles (rewrites, financing) yielded a most satisfying final product. Cradling the storytelling genre of the moment with a potency and execution yet to be achieved anywhere else on screen or on television, this Brad Pitt star vehicle is very much worth the price of admission.