RATING: 1 star (out of 4)
There’s only one scary moment in World War Z, and it comes almost two hours into the movie when all hope is lost and you’re reduced to a cowering shell of yourself, buried alive under a mountain of rotting zombie movie clichés.
“This is not the end,” Brad Pitt utters in the ludicrously Robocop-like tone he talks in throughout the movie. “Not even close.”
Not even close? C’mon, brah! Haven’t we suffered enough? Can’t you at least say we’re just a little bit close to the end? We’ve followed you along on one pointless mission after another, hopping the globe like Carmen Sandiego on meth. We’ve endured ‘sploding planes, spilling brains and – instead of dialogue – mind-numbing refrains. How much more can an audience be expected to endure?
More video game than movie, World War Z declares a heavy artillery attack on your patience, trotting out a series of hackneyed mission levels rather than scenes. Pitt plays a UN operative who, grinding the Gears of War, answers the Call of Duty to be the one guy responsible for destroying the Resident Evil that has overtaken the world.
There’s an escort mission where you have to make your guy protect an annoying, innocent, bald-headed girl who keeps trying to get herself killed; a sneaky stealth mission where you have to sneak around clueless zombies; a Snakes on the Plane mission where you need to jockey luggage and explosives to keep from joining the undead mile high club; and plenty of clunky shooting sprees that are dragged down by an inconsistent camera effect and tank-like controls. After each one ends, you expect to check your score at the mission select screen, then try jamming on the A button to get past the stupid talking parts and get on with the crazy. But no, despite all the video gameness, this is actually still a movie. And a rotten one.
Pitt, who produced the film, is the movie’s only marketable name. And by crazy coincidence, he gets more close-ups than LeBron James does friendly calls from star-struck NBA Finals refs. He is the one man capable of stopping the zombie apocalypse, and dammit, you’re gonna watch him do it. Ever… so… slowly.
The zombies Pitt contends against are intimidating characters. Not only are they crafted by the finest animation Microsoft Paint artists have to offer, but they sprint as fast as Usain Bolt (luckily Pitt is the one human on earth who is faster than Mr. Bolt) and can easily ram their creaky bones through locked doors.
To survive, it helps if you happen to be a hero who’s taking on the zombies to save not only the world but his adorable little family he frolicked with in the opening scene. Also, it’s a big plus if you’ve adopted a bunch of kids of all ethnicities with Angelina Jolie and have melded with Super Mario’s invincibility star. Pitt checked all those boxes but forgot to bring the intensity and charm that got him to the point in his career when he could sleepwalk through lazy, boring zombie vanity blockbusters for easy paychecks. The world needed another zombie movie like it needs another World War, and the least Pitt could have done was make things interesting.
Instead, what he gave us was World War Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz… So can this please be the end, Brad Pitt? Lord, I hope so.
Starring Brad Pitt, Mirielle Enos, James Badge Dale and Matthew Fox. Written by Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard and Damon Lindelof, based on a story by Carnahan and J. Michael Straczynski, which is based on a novel by Max Brooks. Directed by Marc Forster. 116 minutes. Rated PG-13.