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Nighness of the Moviemaking Dead

World War Z (2013)

Jaap Buitendijk/Paramount Pictures

The movie adaptation of Max Brooks’s “World War Z” has lowered expectations time and again. For starters, Hollywood’s indisputably most overrated director, Marc Forster — fresh off ruining James Bond for everyone — was attached to the project. Extensive rewrites and reshoots then followed, resulting in a bloated budget and a yearlong delay. All indications were that it would turn out terrible, so it’s a relief that the film is even remotely watchable. This is not to say “World War Z” isn’t the embodiment of filmmaking-by-committee of the worst kind. In fact, it is pretty much the cinematic equivalent of a zombie: brain-dead, soulless and merely going through the epileptic motions.

As a zombie outbreak quickly overtakes the world, Brad Pitt’s United Nations Gen. Gerry Lane must leave his family behind and trot the globe in hopes of finding a conspiracy, a patient zero, a cure, a vaccine or a way to help Paramount Pictures recoup the film’s reported $400 million budget. Never mind that Mr. Brooks’s source material in fact takes place a decade after the conclusion of the zombie war.

Judging from the final product, one could assume that co-screenwriter Matthew Michael Carnahan started out going by Mr. Brooks’s book — which could have resulted in something comparable to the commercially viable and critically praised “Children of Men” and “Contagion.” Then “World War Z” was likely test screened before adolescents afflicted with severe cases of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and adults with exceptionally low I.Q., who scored the original cut poorly for falling short of their expectations of a garden-variety George A. Romero rip-off. The studio then brought in screenwriting zombies Drew Goddard and Damon Lindelof to turn the film literally into the walking dead, quarantining any semblance of allegory while infesting it with the body count, car crashes, explosions and C.G.I. to distract the audience from what’s now a hallow shell of movie stuffed with unintelligible dialogue and a nonsensical story line.

To Mr. Forster’s credit — or perhaps discredit, depending on how you want to look at it — “World War Z” is serviceably disorienting and scary. It’s not that disgusting, though, if that’s your cup of tea. But for those A.D.H.D.-afflicted adolescents and exceptionally low-I.Q. adults, I hope you’re happy with what you asked for.


Opens on June 21 in the United States and Britain.

Directed by Marc Forster; written by Matthew Michael Carnahan, J. Michael Straczynski, Drew Goddard and Damon Lindelof, based on the novel “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War,” by Max Brooks; director of photography, Ben Seresin; edited by Roger Barton and Matt Chessé; music by Marco Beltrami; production design by Nigel Phelps; costumes by Mayes C. Rubeo; visual effects supervisor, Scott Farrar; produced by Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Ian Bryce; released by Paramount Pictures. Running time: 1 hour 56 minutes. This film is rated PG-13 by M.P.A.A. and 15 by B.B.F.C.

WITH: Brad Pitt (Gerry Lane), Mireille Enos (Karen Lane), James Badge Dale (Speke), Daniella Kertesz (Segen), Matthew Fox (Parajumper), David Morse (Burt Reynolds), Fana Mokoena (Thierry), Abigail Hargrove (Rachel Lane), Sterling Jerins (Constance Lane), Ludi Boeken (Warmbrumm), Fabrizio Zacharee Guido (Tomas), and Peter Capaldi, Ruth Negga and Moritz Bleibtreu (W.H.O. Doctors).


If you're O.K. with a Hollywood movie insulting your intelligence — while taking your money — then why are you bothered when you think a movie blogger is doing it? Consider that for a moment. What one should find objectionable is really a filmmaking process that yields such a dumbed-down result, and that is the point of my review.

Well i've just registered to say that this is a brilliant review, despite being really disappointed about the result of the movie.

I really loved the WWZ book by Max Brooks, as well as his survival guide.

Had the movie followed the book, no doubt it would have been a classic. It has some really great short stories and scenes of human trials against the zombies. And it even has plenty of action!

But I guess most people just want boobs and explosions. But can't we just have ONE movie that is intelligent!?

btw, Martin Tsai is not insulting anyone. He's merely stating that the movie has been adpated to an audience that would have no appreciation for the books - thus changing the story so much that it no longer resembles the original but still has the same title. Hollywood doesn't care about how the movie turns out - as long as it ticks the right boxes so that it makes as big of a profit as possible. There won't be any fine art coming from hollywood.

This of course completely ruins it for fans of the book.

This happens time and time again with movies - especially ones adpated from video games, where some asshole takes the title of the game and usually changes the main focus or story or whatever to the point where it bears no resemblence to the game, and then they are shocked to find out that it flops. DERP!

TBH the speed at which things are being dumbed down for the unwashed masses, i won't be surprised of most staircases are replaced by waterslides in a few years.

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