What a colossal disappointment the film was. I had my doubts from the beginning, and wondered whether the cinema was really the right place for this sprawling geo-political thriller. Given the novelistic quality of so much contemporary TV drama, it seemed to me that television might have been a better home for this story – the West Wing with zombies. Or there was an opportunity to do something like what Stephen Soderbergh did with Contagion, which offers a dramatic yet realistic telling of how people and governments cope with a pandemic.
Instead we got a meek and only occasionally suspenseful popcorn movie that has all the political subtext stripped out and is really an extended chase sequence, with Pitt trying to outrun the zombies in various locations.
Pitt himself has quietly lamented the lobotomising (or maybe zombification?) of Brooks' novel. It tells you something about the economics of contemporary Hollywood that even Brad Pitt's star power is not enough to get a relatively sophisticated political thriller made. Clearly a more faithful retelling of Brooks' story would have turned off younger audiences and angered the all-important foreign markets. And hey, it seems to have worked. There's already talk of a sequel.
Wonkish footnote: the continuity department gets an F for its work on World War Z. The cargo plane Pitt travels on in the first half of the movie changes randomly from a C-130 to a Russian-built An-12, depending on the shot. Oh, and it also takes off from an aircraft carrier, which is highly improbable, and flies from Korea to Israel without refuelling.