The troubled production of “World War Z” is almost as entertaining as the film itself. Rumors of director Marc Forster being unprepared and on-set strife with Brad Pitt trickled throughout the Internet, causing a stir that this megabudget zombie film was in real trouble. Then came the announcement that the final act of the film had to be scrapped and redone from scratch with an all new screenwriter. Before anyone had seen the film, the firesale was on, “World War Z” was being written off as a disaster of “Waterworld”-like proportions. It was sure to make a sizable dent in Pitt’s star power.
Pitt stars as Gerry, a former UN investigator trapped in Philadelphia by the zombie apocalypse. Since he’s better than any investigator the UN currently employs, Gerry agrees to return to action in exchange for his family staying out of harm’s way aboard an aircraft carrier. Globetrotting from Philadelphia to South Korea to Israel, Gerry’s frantic search for a possible cure to the zombie plague is nearly derailed at every turn by the hoarde of undead trying to eat humanity’s brains out.
But much like “Waterworld,” the final product isn’t a disaster. Far from it, actually. Yes, that new final act sticks out like a sore thumb, as the film quickly shifts from epic-sized disaster movie to a more intimate setting commonplace within the genre. But the final act works, providing some of the most thrilling scenes in the entire movie. Even the zombies are different enough to stand out from the glut of films, thanks to the bone-chilling sound of their teeth chattering as they bite at air.
Upon seeing “World War Z,” anyone familiar with the source material knows the film version has almost nothing in common with the novel, written by Max “son of Mel” Brooks. The book chronicles several stories of survival during the zombie holocaust, not just one. There were so many amazing stories in the novel that “Z” honestly would have been better served as a miniseries on HBO.
An unintended consequence of Pitt starring in a zombie film is his recent admission that he suffers from face blindness, which keeps someone from being able to recognize people by their faces. If that was the case, how on Earth could he tell who was a zombie and who wasn’t, especially when they’re standing a foot away from him?
“World War Z,” thanks to the involvement of Pitt, has a budget larger than probably every other zombie film combined. The movie takes zombie carnage to unheard levels of destruction, as waves and waves of undead sweep through cities, eating every living human in sight. The action is more exciting than anything in “Man of Steel.” The drawback of having someone as high-profile as Pitt headlining “Z” is the lack of danger, because there’s no way the Brad Pitt is going to die in a zombie movie. Still, “World War Z” is fun, escapist entertainment and for Pitt & Co., that’s got to be enough for them to breathe a sigh of relief. Crisis averted, fellas.