Brad Pitt plays Gerry Lane; a retired investigator of some sort for the United Nations. As the zombie outbreak worsens, Gerry is coerced back into service to try and identify an origin of the virus and a way to neutralize it. The beginning of the movie is very by-the-numbers, but has some great scenes that kept me interested.
I don’t like movies that use “screen scares” to make the audience flinch. You know – the coast is clear. Come on! And then something jumps out of the darkness and attacks. It’s a cheesy tactic that was used up in the 80’s slasher movies, and it worked in those flicks because they didn’t really have a plot. In a movie that has compelling characters and even a slim story, it’s annoying and distracting.
Despite that peeve, I found the production values top-notch and the action scenes were over the top but cool. Having read the book by Max Brooks, I was interested to see how they would adapt it to a movie. The book is essentially short stories – interviews with various characters, and I did not see how this would translate to film. The short answer is: It didn’t. The story in the movie is nothing at all like the book, except for zombies.
That’s not a bad thing, though. The story in WWZ is as good as I’ve seen in a zombie movie. Nods to Romero for his contributions to the genre, and acknowledgement of the first Resident Evil movie, WWZ is the smartest of the bunch. Don’t get me wrong – the story is thin, but what is there is well done.
Pitt delivers a solid performance, believable in the role of family man and seasoned investigator, Gerry Lane. The tension builds and the story delivers a satisfying conclusion. The movie could have gone deep into gross-out gore, and didn’t. This lent a sense of class lacking from the zombie genre, which typically wallows in blood and violence. Even the soundtrack was good.
If you like the genre at all, this one is worth a shot.