starring Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, Matthew Fox
screenplay by Matthew Michael Carnahan and Drew Goddard & Damon Lindelof, based on the novel by Max Brooks
directed by Marc Forster
by Walter Chaw Marc Forster's World War Z, an adaptation of Max Brooks's cause célèbre novel (think Stephen Ambrose on the zombie apocalypse) that had a production so troubled the real surprise is Terry Gilliam had nothing to do with it, lands as half an idea, handsomely mounted in a really expensive crater. With almost no relationship to the book beyond honouring its concept of a conflagration told in vignettes, it feels almost exactly like James L. Brooks's I'll Do Anything, which began life as a musical and ended up, after extensive reshoots and careening budget overages, song-free, yet whole somehow despite the trauma. That sense of a sudden change in direction, in genre, is all over World War Z--something in its almost apologetic reserve, something in its unmistakable indecision. Indeed, it serves as a fitting metaphor for a zombie as a corpse similarly brought to shambling half-life, but frankly, it could've been a lot worse. It works for what it is in the same way that Steven Soderbergh's Contagion works, and with the same limitations, ambivalence, anticlimax, and handsome mounting. If, at the end, its Damon Lindelof-penned solution* (the twelfth-hour salvation of a freight train jumped its tracks) is as stupid as you would expect something Lindelof to pen, at least the journey there is interesting, even occasionally (if only very occasionally) arresting. A shame that Forster hasn't gotten any better at directing action since Quantum of Solace.