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With: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale, Ludi Boeken, Matthew Fox, Fana Mokoena, David Morse, Elyes Gabel, Peter Capaldi, Pierfrancesco Favino, Ruth Negga, Moritz Bleibtreu, Sterling Jerins, Abigail Hargrove
Written by: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard, Damon Lindelof, based on a story by Matthew Michael Carnahan, J. Michael Straczynski, and on a novel by Max Brooks
Directed by: Marc Forster
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense frightening zombie sequences, violence and disturbing images
Running Time: 116
Date: 06/21/2013

World War Z (2013)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Zombie Bomb

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The bestselling novel by Max Brooks (Mel Brooks' son) started a bidding war right out of the gate, and now World War Z has ended up as a sloppy, dull summer blockbuster. Director Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace, Machine Gun Preacher) has never shown much personality or skill when it comes to big movies; his action sequences are shaky and choppy and his suspense sequences are clunky rather than tense. The entire movie has a grim, serious demeanor that sucks all the potential fun out of it.

Retired UN agent Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is happy staying at home with his wife (Mireille Enos) and two daughters. One morning, while driving the kids to school, strange things begin happening. It becomes apparent that certain people have gone crazy and have started attacking and biting innocent people. It's not long before Gerry's old boss calls him in, and he's jetting around the world, trying to find the source of the deadly zombie outbreak, or at least a cure. But the zombies are ruthless and resourceful, and Gerry is running out of time and places to hide.

World War Z is probably the least scary zombie movie ever made. It's also one of those movies that makes you want to scream at the characters for not being very smart; if they'd seen even one zombie movie, they'd know not to make the same old mistakes. There isn't a moment in it that couldn't have been done better. In an early scene, Pitt wrestles with a zombie and then runs across the roof of a building and stands on the edge for a few seconds. I wasn't sure why. Only afterward does he inform us, "I got some in my mouth" (zombie goo, I guess). Thanks to the clunky, sludgy fight footage I didn't realize until afterward what was going on, that he was ready to throw himself off if he turned into a zombie. This is not the way to build suspense.

In another scene, characters must creep past a doorway where a "sentry" zombie is standing. Forster cuts the scene a little too fast, and it's pretty ordinary, where just a few more beats, or moments of breath, here and there would have made it a real knuckle-biter.

Just the writing credits alone indicate that it must have gone through an army of writers before they ended up with this script; every scene smacks of short cuts and compromise. Not even the actors pass muster: Pitt is on autopilot, Mireille Enos is wasted in the typical "waiting, worrying wife" role, and character actors like David Morse are gone before they've had a chance to warm up. The title of this dud should have included more "Zs."

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