World War Z ★★★

Well, another disappointment for the summer movie pile.

For a zombie action thriller, World War Z suffers in a surprising number of areas that you wouldn't expect. First, in any zombie movie you expect some blood and gore. Not here. It's not a movie for kids, by any stretch, but I don't think there is actually any blood shown in the movie. No face-smashing, no limbs being cut off, no zombie head shots shown, nothing. It's almost like they had to cut this to a PG rating, even though it's PG-13. It takes away an integral chunk of what makes zombie movies satisfying.

Second, the action. Most of it takes place at night, and it's confusing. There's no sense of space, who is who, or where people are relative to zombies, each other, or their destination. It's not viscerally exciting "you are there" shaky cam (which I'm not a fan of either), it just isn't executed well.

Third, the money shots. I am an anti-trailer Nazi. I'll watch the first trailer for a blockbuster, once or twice, and that's it. I close my eyes in the theater for trailers of movies I want to see. Still, if you've seen the trailer for this movie, you've seen every money shot and every major set piece.

Lastly, story elements and side characters. Brad Pitt's family ends up being uninteresting and having zero to do with the plot outside the first 30 minutes. There aren't cool story details beyond the basic "go to point A, ok now go to point B." And there aren't interactions between characters you really care about.

So why does it get 3 stars? Well, Pitt is good- he's likeable and really you're with him for 90% of the movie. Although you've already seen them in the trailer, some of the set-pieces are cool and have good fx of swarming zombies. In particular I liked the Israel action scene- it's about the only scene set outside in the daylight and it has sustained, solid thrills. The movie's overall pacing is not bad, and there are a few non-set-piece minor sequences that are good as well- particularly in the first 30 minutes.

Once you get past that point in the movie though- WWZ is by-and-large a bland zombie flick, and I can't see a revisit any time in the near future. I really waffled between 2.5 and 3 stars- I initially went 2.5 but looking at other movies I've given 3 stars to, I think this has to land at a 3 as well.