I enjoyed World War Z but it would be remiss of me if I didn’t rip this film apart. The first and pretty much central problem that I have with this film is the ‘family angle’. Brad Pitt’s family is presumably included so that husbands may fantasize about being heros when in reality that part of their and their life more generally is over.
Problem 1 – The family angle
I think even the writers resent the meaningless inclusion of Brad Pitt’s family. So much so that they have to park his family on an aircraft carrier for most of the film until even the aircraft carrier gets sick of them and sends them off to a base on Nova Scotia. I think the writer’s resentment comes through again in having Brad Pitt’s wife indirectly kill over three men on a South Korean air base killed when she makes an ill-timed phone call on a satellite navigation phone. This is an incident which is never broached between Brad and wifey and the film wants us to view it as relatively unimportant.
The film has about two scenes too many at the start which again I will attribute to the family. We have to suffer through some bullshit dialogue about pancakes and eye spy before the action starts. Not only that but a sexy female Israeli soldier character is squandered by this film because of the family. She would have been a much better love interest and the narrative would have been much better as a result. Even at the end when Brad is reunited with his family the film makers appreciate that we need to have this blow softened with soldiers standing around the family in various poses just to offset them.
A more interesting direction
Early on in the film we see that one of Brad’s kids has asthma. If the film had any balls it would have killed one of the kids and that would been an interesting part of the story.The characters would have had things happen to them and would have been forced to grow..
Alternatively they could have used the family angle in Die Hard. In Die Hard Shirley McClane has remarried and John McClane being all heroic reasserts his masculinity and wins her back on a symbolic level.
Problem 2 – Attempts at being profound
I will select just two examples here.
Early on in the film Brad Pitt tries to get a bit philosophical and in urging a hispanic family to keep moving he suggests that ‘movimiento es vida’ (movement is life). This is laid out as though it were some sort of all encompassing philosophy for surviving. It turns out though that ‘agua’ and remaining static is also ‘vida’. This we can see from people being completely safe on an aircraft carrier. It also turns out that the zombies move a lot (much more than people and fact) and they are all ‘muerto’.
Confusing! And not the only time.
The whiz kid who is introduced and somewhat entertainingly killed off also mixes his metaphors. Before accidentally shooting himself in the head he tells us that nature is a serial killer but that she leaves crumbs for us to find. If we were to follow the serial killer metaphor though we might have expected something like a murder weapon, fingerprints and other things in keeping with that theme. END.