I, for one, am officially fed up with movies about zombie outbreaks, mutant outbreaks, virus outbreaks, and outbreaks in general. To be fair, the end of the world/global epidemic genre can still be done well. The best recent example actually isn’t a movie, but “The Walking Dead: The Game,” which packed in more drama, thrills and heartfelt character development than the AMC TV show of the same name. Such compelling characters and genuine terror are missing from “World War Z.” It’s surprisingly hollow, surprisingly bland, and, most unforgivable of all, surprisingly boring.
Brad Pitt, looking like he just walked off the set of his infamous Chanel No. 5 commercial, is Gerry Lane. He’s the happiest man in the world with a wonderful wife, played by Mireille Enos, and two little girls that love to wake him up in the morning by jumping on the bed. It’s a perfect day as Gerry makes his family pancakes, and his daughters beg him for a puppy. Nothing could possibly go wrong for this pitch-perfect family -- that is, until zombies abruptly take over the world.
It turns out Gerry is a former United Nations investigator. Although he swore to give that life up for his family, the government ropes him back in to solve this pandemic.
Director Marc Forster of “Monster’s Ball,” “Finding Neverland,” “Stranger Than Fiction,” and “The Kite Runner,” is a highly gifted director, needless to say. With “World War Z” and the underwhelming “Quantum of Solace,” though, he’s proven that action isn’t his area of expertise.
That’s not to say “World War Z” isn’t without some incredible shots and impressive set pieces. There’s one notable flight sequence involving a zombie outburst that’s especially rousing. Zombies on a plane -- now there’s a premise for a movie. The action doesn’t mean anything, though, unless the audience connects with the characters, and the characters in “World War Z” are some of the dullest in awhile.
Pitt isn’t bad in his role, although he is instantly forgettable as a hero that has little buildup and little payoff.
It’s great to see that the under-appreciated Enos is getting more work in movies. It’s just too bad the writers of “World War Z” didn’t give her a very active character to work with.
Gerry’s whole family pretty much disappears 30 minutes into the film. This also includes a mostly pointless little boy the Lanes' look after, played by Fabrizio Zacharee Guido.
Zombies, meanwhile, continue to be the most uninteresting characters in the history of movies, with exception to the ones in “Warm Bodies.”
“World War Z” is a basic summer blockbuster. It’s clear that people like to see this story told over and over again, otherwise studios wouldn’t keep such stories coming off the assembly line. If you want zombies, chases, and explosions, you’re going to be satisfied. Personally, I’m holding out for the release of “The Walking Dead: 400 Days.”
• Nick Spake is a college student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for the past seven years, reviewing movies on his website, NICKPICKSFLICKS.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.