By Matt Singer | Criticwire June 3, 2013 at 11:40AM
Zombies lead to society's downfall in "World War Z;" they may yet prove to be Brad Pitt's as well. The film, produced by and starring PItt and directed by "Quantum of Solace"'s Marc Forster, has been (zombie) plagued by script woes, delays, and massive reshoots which apparently completely reconfigured its ending and tacked on tens of millions of dollars to its already large budget. The movie needs to make a lot of money to break even, and a ton of money to turn a profit.
So what are its chances? According to the first wave of reviews that went up on the Internet in the last few hours, they seem reasonable. The overall mood in the articles below is mixed-to-positive, with most critics praising the action, the effects, and the relentless pace. Most also find the movie lacks the original Max Brooks novel's brains, or much in the way of character development for Pitt, who plays a U.N. employee charged with finding the origin of the zombie outbreak. So basically after all the build-up and rumors, it sounds like every other Hollywood summer blockbuster.
Here are the early reviews for "World War Z." It opens in U.S. theaters on June 21st.
"The Hollywood blockbuster might be a bit late to the zombie party, but it arrives now exactly as everyone hoped and feared -- hectic, deafening, empty but oh-so-spectacular."
"A collection of moderately violent action set-pieces untroubled by humour or broader coherence."
"A big, sweeping -- and fairly fresh -- take on the age-old zombie genre."
"Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t 'The King’s Speech.' 'WWZ' is a popcorn movie on the level of Independence Day. But like that summer hit, Forster’s film never flags and is always entertaining."
"More an action blockbuster than a horror squelcher, it contains spectacular crowd scenes that have an Hieronymus Bosch quality, but the film lacks strong meat -- of the emotional and bloody zombie-cannibal sort."
"What a disaster. This end-of-the-world epic -- Brad Pitt’s 'baby,' which he's been working on since 2007 -- is mostly bland and extremely bloated. It's Z for zombie, in case you're wondering. But a more apt title would be 'World War Zzzzz...'"
"The B-movie premise becomes an epic story of survival in the hands of director Marc Foster. If his 'Quantum of Solace' was too esoteric, then it's the opposite here, as Brad Pitt traverses continents to find a cure to the fast-spreading scourge. Everything about the film moves at a breakneck pace, including the zombies. It's a total rush."
"Marc Forster has ensured that the living dead have regained some integrity, as this Brad Pitt starring apocalyptic thriller has some genuinely threatening, bad-ass zombies rapidly infecting the majority of the world."
"'World War Z' isn’t terrible. Parts are impressive and exciting. But the incredibly long distance it falls short of its source material means it must rank as one of Hollywood’s most wasted opportunities."