Early Review Roundup: ‘World War Z’ Not As Deadly As You’d Think
Brad Pitt and Mireille Enos in Paramount Pictures' 'World War Z'
Early reviews for "World War Z" are pouring in like a mass of rolling zombies, and rather surprisingly they don't herald the cinematic apocalypse we were all kind of expecting.
"World War Z," based on Max Brooks' novel that serves as "An Oral History of the Zombie War," has been a publicly troubled production, as last year around this time Paramount made the announcement that the film would undergo seven weeks of reshoots, pushing the film's planned release date of Winter 2012 to Summer 2013. Reshoots are certainly common for studio blockbusters, but in the case of films such as "Marvel's The Avengers" and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2," they were usually only for one to two weeks. One could shoot, like, three indie films in the amount of time that "WWZ" needed back in front of the cameras.
News of the extensive reshoots also made everyone recall director Marc Forster's track record with big studio films. He does well with small intimate dramas like "Monster's Ball," weirdo thrillers like "Stay," and experimental comedies like "Stranger Than Fiction," but his 007 outing, "Quantum of Solace," was quite a mess – so much so that it may tricked people into thinking its follow-up, Sam Mendes' "Skyfall," was better than it actually was. Rumors were flying about how "World War Z" was perhaps just too big a beast for Forster, even with an A-list producer/star like Brad Pitt keeping tabs on him.
The trailers for "World War Z" were fine if a bit underwhelming, the most notable thing about them perhaps being the revelation that the film apparently had little to nothing to do with the source novel. But hey, no big deal – that applies to some "Harry Potter" movies, too (riiiiight?).
Add Paramount throwing the film into theaters a mere week after "Man of Steel" and all signs seemed to point to "World War Z" becoming one of the summer's biggest critical and commercial failures. That first part, however, appears to not be the case.
"For all its negative pre-release publicity, this is a surprisingly smart, gripping and imaginative addition to the zombie-movie canon," writes Scott Foundas of Variety, who also says this "sleekly crafted, often nail-biting tale of global zombiepocalypse clicks on both visceral and emotional levels" and shows "few visible signs of the massive rewrites, reshoots and other post-production patchwork."
Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter calls it "an immersive apocalyptic spectacle" filled with a "bunch of impressive set pieces" that "should ride Brad Pitt's name, teeming action scenes and widespread interest in all things zombie to strong box office returns, particularly internationally." McCarthy is especially impressed with the sequence depicting the siege of Jerusalem, which is "unquestionably the great set piece of the film."
"Surprisingly, the film works," writes Andy Lea at the Daily Star, praising the film as "a spectacular summer blockbuster" and that "some of the action scenes are the most breathtaking and ... intense [that] I've ever seen in a zombie flick."