In just a couple of weeks, Paramount will finally be unleashing "World War Z" into theaters, and it will be up to audiences to decide if the movie was a multi-million dollar folly that even extensive reshoots or rewrites couldn't save, or a thrilling summer movie that delivers the goods, no matter its troubled history. Over the weekend, London held the premiere for the undead movie and the first reviews for the film have dropped online, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the verdict is mixed.
To recap the basic plot: Directed by Marc Forster, Brad Pitt stars a UN worker who is summoned back to work after a zombie outbreak takes over the globe. "The Killing" star Mireille Enos plays his wife, with an interesting supporting cast in place including James Badge Dale, David Morse, Matthew Fox and more. To be certain, no expense was spared on the shoot that hit more than a few worldwide locations and as has been mentioned before, a lot of coin has been spent to get it right. But does it all come together? Here's what the critics have to say so far...
The Telegraph: "What we get is a collection of moderately violent action set-pieces untroubled by humour or broader coherence....Forster, who directed the Bond film 'Quantum of Solace,' has done his best to piece together a story from these incompatible parts, but the final product has an elaborate uselessness about it, like a broken teapot glued back together with the missing pieces replaced by parts of a vacuum cleaner....But there’s no heart to be found amid the guts."
London Evening Standard: "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."
Daily Mail: "...the film bears unmistakable signs of having been assembled by a Hollywood studio over-preoccupied with earning a family-friendly certificate. Virtually all the violence takes place fractionally off-screen. Disappointingly, the final product is much more conventional than the book and avoids its most interesting and innovative qualities...'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."
Empire: "The shame is that, whether for budgetary reasons or to try to keep things more character-based, this type of vast-scale action is limited to a single set-piece, during the film’s mid-point Israel segment. Considering the movie’s title, it would have been nice to see a lot more war...The whole thing feels like a studio dipping its toe in the water: the wrapping-up line, 'This isn’t the end... not even close,' makes it clear that there are plans ahoy for further instalments, should there be public appetite. In the meantime, this just about succeeds on its own merits."
And the next two reactions aren't quite full reviews, but they are on the more positive side of the spectrum:
In their summer preview, Rolling Stone declares: "The nerve-frying, addictively exciting 'WWZ' comes ready to rock....It's everything you want in a blockbuster – smart, shifty, and scary as hell."
Meanwhile, Showbiz 411 attended the London premiere and said: "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."