World War Z (2013)
October 27, 2022 9:13 AM - Subscribe

When former U.N. investigator Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his family get stuck in urban gridlock, he senses that it's no ordinary traffic jam. His suspicions are confirmed when, suddenly, the city erupts into chaos. A lethal virus, spread through a single bite, is turning healthy people into something vicious, unthinking and feral. As the pandemic threatens to consume humanity, Gerry leads a worldwide search to find the source of the infection and, with luck, a way to halt its spread.

Also starring Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, Daniella Kertesz, Matthew Fox, David Morse, Peter Capaldi, Ruth Negga.

Directed by Marc Forster. Screenplay by Matthew Michael Carnahan and Drew Goddard & Damon Lindelof. Nominally based on the book by Max Brooks.

66% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on AMazon Prime, Paramount Plus, and Epix. Also available for digital rental on all the usual outlets. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (17 comments total)
 
I suspect many horror fans had the same take on this: terrific use of a big-ass budget, which we don't usually get to see in horror; but a real bummer it dismissed most of what made the book cool, particularly, its Ken Burns-like faux doc structure; also a bummer that a movie with this much zombie action was tamed to a PG-13 level. Still, there are some cool scenes. The heap of zombies breaching the wall scene is pretty badass.

Both not bad and a woefully missed opportunity.

This would be way better as a Netflix anthology series, with different directors doing their own standalone episodes in different formats, all set in the same world.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:15 AM on October 27, 2022 [10 favorites]


It's just... not really a horror movie in the end. It's a sci-fi plague movie where the plague is zombies.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:25 AM on October 27, 2022 [5 favorites]


I never did see this. I was too disappointed in its complete genericization of the book--like they just took the title and slapped it on some pre-existing sci-fi thriller languishing on the studio shelf.

What I wanted was a fictional documentary, period. The audiobook did a great job with it, casting different people as the voices of the interviewed characters.
posted by theatro at 9:42 AM on October 27, 2022 [11 favorites]


Yeah, this was underwhelming. I enjoyed the book (though it has its problems with some stereotyping), but the conceit of exploring what happened with a zombie apocalypse in different parts of the world and how civilization started to push back was great. The movie misses the horror/disquiet of some of the book sequences, where the issue is what some did to survive rather than the zombies. And I will always appreciate the book for introducing me to LAMoE - "Last Man on Earth" type survivors who are generally kind of dicks.

The movie itself is just a big budget sci-fi action flick, where someone thought it would be cool to see swarms of zombies engulf major cities while the hero searches for a cure.
posted by nubs at 9:45 AM on October 27, 2022 [2 favorites]


My main memory of this movie is that halfway through it my then-boyfriend leaned behind me and gently started gnawing my head.

Reader, I married him.

Also, the film has Peter Capaldi as a WHO Doctor, which is a great in-joke.
posted by damsel with a dulcimer at 10:13 AM on October 27, 2022 [25 favorites]


"This would be way better as a Netflix anthology series, with different directors doing their own standalone episodes in different formats, all set in the same world."
This, one hundred times!
posted by Marky at 10:56 AM on October 27, 2022 [7 favorites]


DirtyOldTown, I agree with every word of your post, and will add that another disappointment was how it completely omitted my favorite part of the book, which was how society actually beat back the zombies by going old school. Even if they were to make World War Z 2 (World War AA?) the zombie-invisibility-potion changes that calculus.
posted by ejs at 10:59 AM on October 27, 2022 [2 favorites]


The thing is, this movie is both profoundly disappointing and not much fun to rag on, because while it's not at all what it could have been, it's not bad, either.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:15 PM on October 27, 2022 [3 favorites]


Here's the thread about the movie on the blue, before it actually came out, and it does look like a lot of people were kind of looking forward to it being a mess, or at least more of a mess than what it turned out to be.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:54 PM on October 27, 2022


I would place the original (incredibly good) book in the "unfilmable" category, so the film was doomed to have to go in a different direction.

I was fascinated to read that the original final sequence was some huge Hollywood CGI battle scene in a football stadium. Instead, they went for a dramatically different tone with the tense sequence of Pitt retrieving the McGuffin through a building full of zombies. That was kind of refreshing.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 2:28 PM on October 27, 2022 [1 favorite]


I would place the original (incredibly good) book in the "unfilmable" category, so the film was doomed to have to go in a different direction.

I think it's absolutely filmable, just not as something Hollywood has any interest in making. It'd have to be a faux-documentary like Savageland or Lake Mungo.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:33 PM on October 27, 2022 [1 favorite]




After his run on Doctor Who, seeing Peter Capaldi in this movie caused me some cognitive dissonance. He lays out what they're up against in a grim, methodical and very Doctor-y way, but then he just sits back like, "So, what do we do now, Brad Pitt?"
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:24 PM on October 27, 2022 [2 favorites]


What I wanted was a fictional documentary, period. The audiobook did a great job with it, casting different people as the voices of the interviewed characters.

I wondered why the hell they even bothered making a movie when they have that audiobook. I would say that "casting different people as the voices of the interviewed characters" is an understatement.

Alan Alda, Carl Reiner, Jurgen Prochnow, Waleed Zuiater, Dean Edwards, Michelle Kholos, Maz Jobrani, Mark Hamill, Henry Rollins, Eammonn Walker, Ajay Naidu, John Turturro, Rob Reiner, Jay O'Sanders, Dennis Boutsikaris, Becky Ann Baker, Steve Park, Frank Kamei, and John McElroy.

And that's the abridged edition they originally released with the novel. They did a "complete edition" with a dozen more hours that I haven't listened to yet, but apparently they added even more heavy hitters to the cast.
posted by mikelieman at 4:30 PM on October 27, 2022 [7 favorites]


The audiobook of this was what got me over my hatred of disembodied voices (I could not stand to listen to people talk on the radio, for instance, and every time I tried an audiobook, I'd tear my headphones off)--it was just so dynamic, with so many actors I really liked (J├╝rgen Prochnow! Mark Hamill! Alan Alda!), and after that I ended up searching for books like it, but it's really sui generis in its format and execution.

The trailers for this looked like it might have potential, aside from being a Brad Pitt (ugh) vehicle, especially with the swarming zombies. It was so disappointing to realize when I finally did see this that it was just a basic horror-scifi story not all that unlike Legion. For me, the only redeeming scene was that one where he goes to get the McGuffin, especially the coming back part. I'm just imagining this now as a prestige TV miniseries with a good budget.

Considering listening to the book again...
posted by kitten kaboodle at 12:14 PM on October 28, 2022


mikelieman, thank you for letting me know that there is now an unabridged audio book. I am off to buy it!
posted by seasparrow at 11:30 AM on October 30, 2022 [1 favorite]


Yeah finding out that there's an unabridged audio book absolutely makes my day.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:26 AM on November 2, 2022


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