The first reviews for Brad Pitt’s “World War Z” are trickling out and it’s not a bust.
In fact, Pitt’s zombie thriller is getting good buzz.
Loosely based on the 2006 zombie-apocalypse novel of the same name by Max Brooks, early reviews are calling the film “smart” and “exciting” with comparisons to “The China Syndrome” and 2011’s “Contagion.”
The film was hit by a wave of bad press after a June Vanity Fair cover article revealed the movie’s budget grew near $200 million and that Paramount had to call in “Lost” and “Prometheus” scribe Damon Lindelof to help re-write and reshoot 40 minutes.
“World War Z” won’t hit theatres until June 21.
Here’s what to know before deciding to see the film.
Early reviews are eating Pitt’s zombie film up.
“As I understand it, fidelity to Max Brooks’ best-selling novel has been scant at best, but neither that nor countless post-production woes prevent Paramount’s costly adaptation from ultimately serving as an efficient and effectively exciting globe-spanning zombie thriller.”
“Choosing quantity over quality, intensity over tension and big-screen thrills over low-fi shocks – this is probably what the zombie apocalypse will actually look like.”
“Surprisingly smart, gripping and imaginative addition to the zombie-movie canon, owing as much to scientific disaster movies like “The China Syndrome” and “Contagion” as it does to undead ur-texts like the collected works of George Romero.”
It doesn’t matter that the film isn’t really based on the source material it lifted from.
“The film doesn’t bear much resemblance to Brooks’ book. And that’s fine as long as fans know that going in, as that highly episodic tale didn’t even have a main character to centre a movie around (it really would’ve made more sense as a TV miniseries anyway).”
Zombie fans: There isn’t a lot of blood and guts since the film is rated PG-13. There also aren’t any “Walking Dead”-esque relationships between characters. This helps the film feel like more than your average zombie thriller.
“The zombie lore offered here is fairly fresh, opting for a fast and feral pack mentality more prone to virulent violence than traditional cannibalism, making it all the easier to grow in number.”
“That these zombies have particularly sensitive hearing allows Forster and his sound designers a field day with creaking doors, broken glass crunching underfoot, and in one especially tense moment, a soda can rolling across a cafeteria floor.”
Cons? Prepare for plenty of CGI.
“On the craft side, it’s easy to see where the money went, as scene after scene overflows with hordes of people (many of them CGI-generated) and elaborate backgrounds. The film is a feast for the eyes (the 3D conversion is very good).”
“Visual effects are meanwhile shockingly inconsistent for such an exorbitant production, particularly the effects-enhanced zombie hordes, with the CGI giving them a weightless feel as they fly about the screen while chasing Gerry and co.”
Big talent (that isn’t Pitt) is sidelined.
“Characters who initially seem poised to become significant supporting players — among them Army Rangers James Badge Dale and Matthew Fox and rogue CIA operative David Morse — prove expendable, either by becoming food for the encroaching zombie horde, or simply by virtue of the pic moving on to another locale.”
“His [Gerry’s] relationships with other survivors – an attempt to introduce a Walking Dead-style sense of fragility perhaps – are hampered by their tendency to get eaten a beat or two after we meet them.”
For those familiar with director Marc Forster’s previous work, “Quantum of Solace,” you may have flashbacks to the Bond film.
“Anyone who has watched Forster’s Bond effort Quantum of Solace likely remembers how busily directed and edited it was, and disappointingly, exactly the same is true here.”
That big, expensive ending that had to be reshot isn’t as great as the rest of the film. It’s clear someone (Damon Lindelof) stepped in to help fix zombie thriller.
“Along the way, much of the logic and “real world” feel of the film go out the window as well. Of course, Star Trek Into Darkness and Prometheus’ Damon Lindelof was brought in to help fix the film’s ending. It shows.”
“The seams of rewrites and reshoots become most apparent with the arrival of the third act, which places an evident emphasis on quiet horror over hectic action, swapping out digital hordes for more shambling foes in proper make-up.”
“The final third (the section that was rewritten by Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof) sees the film skid from goreless actioner to teeny-bopper horror, with Gerry and the gang creeping around a World Health Organisation lab that may hold the secret to humanity’s salvation. It’s out of kilter with the rest of the film.”
Overall consensus: See it.
While the film may not be perfect, and isn’t anything like the novel — something that shouldn’t come as a big shock by now — it doesn’t appear that the many production problems that shrouded the film have had a really big effect on the outcome. Troubling is that most critics have picked up on a jarring third leg to the film. Whether that’s due to hindsight or because the third part of the film really does lag is yet to be seen.
With “Man of Steel” out the week prior to “WWZ” and opening alongside Pixar’s “Monsters Inc.” prequel, Pitt’s zombie film may have a tough time gaining traction at a crowded box office.
“World War Z” hits theatres June 21.
Check out a trailer for the film below:
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