World War Z is a series of awesome action scenes strung together by the presence of one constant character, a guy name Gerry, played by Brad Pitt. I imagine Gerry described on paper when the movie version of Max Brooks’ bestselling document of the zombie apocalypse was being pitched for the big screen. “So, since each chapter of the book is from a different character’s perspective, we need, like, one guy to string it all together. Someone like Brad Pitt! OK, so let’s call him Gerry, and see Gerry is a FAMILY man, a good man who loves his kids and wife. And he also used to work for the United Nations… but then the zombie outbreak happens, and Gerry has to save his family and the world! Bingo!” (The executives enthusiastically sign off on the proposal.)
The problem is, that is all there is to Gerry’s character. He is a FAMILY man (yes, this aspect of Gerry is pretty much all-caps throughout the film) and has to save the world! To give him some depth, an awesome actress like Mireille Enos is cast as Gerry’s wife, and all she has to take care of the kids wait for her man. They have cute kids who are understandably freaked out, and their family even grows by one as a boy’s parents turn all rabid and try to kill him.
So, yeah, the character development is pretty slim.
But no one is out to see World War Z for character. I have to say when I initially saw the trailer for the movie, it chilled me. It was awesome. The movie is relentless right from the opening scene, and a lot of the zombie action sequences are pretty dang awesome. You won’t see toothy zombies pulling tendons out of people’s necks like bloody saltwater taffy (this is rated PG-13, after all), but these zombies are the kind that RUN after you, with super (dead) human speed. Their bite can turn a victim into a zombie in 12 seconds, and they reproduce like a tidal wave of terror in the streets. Try not to be agog at the image of zombies clawing and piling themselves into a writhing ladder of undead to scale a fortress wall in Jerusalem. (Shudder)
Brad Pitt is an appealing actor, but like I said, he mainly serves as the thread to link scary scene after scary scene. The only two characters I’m going to remember are Segen (Daniella Kertesz), a hard as nails female Israeli soldier who has haunted eyes, and a fellow that I’ll just call Doctor Chompy (listed in the credits as W.H.O. Vault Zombie, played by Michael Jenn). It says a lot when one of the most memorable characters is a dead man, but Gerry has more chemistry with this zombie than his own wife.
By then end of the movie you are left with your nerves jangling as opposed to your emotions. The film will definitely give zombie fans a rush of adrenaline, but you won’t be crying over the loss of any of the characters, because you really don’t get to know them.