Greetings again from the darkness. Max Brooks’ hugely successful novel was put through the proverbial wringer on it’s road to the big screen. Numerous script re-writes, many scenes re-shot, a re-worked third act, an all new ending, and a 6 month delay in release date. The final product is something that fans of TV’s “The Walking Dead” will probably appreciate and many others will find it entertaining enough.
Brad Pitt gives an earnest effort as a former United Nations investigator who now enjoys his new role as house-husband. In fact, director Marc Foster (Quantum of Solace, Monster’s Ball) zaps us with the first zombie action just after Pitt serves up pancakes to his two daughters and wife Karin (Mireille Enos, “The Killing”). It turns out Pitt is more than just an expert at flapjacks. His expertise is needed in this global zombie crisis brought on by a virus …or bacteria, that started in India … or Israel … or Asia. See, those details don’t really matter because the infection has spread to every corner of the globe.
I actually enjoyed Pitt more in the “quiet” moments than in the big CGI action sequences. He is quite believable as a doting husband and father, less so as the world’s savior. Still, the issues with this movie are not on Mr. Pitt. Four writers (in addition to the novelist) rarely deliver a coherent script’ however, since it’s an apocalyptic zombie thriller, they almost get away with it! If you haven’t visited the zombie genre in a few decades, be prepared … these aren’t the sluggish zombies made famous by George Romero. Instead, these are blazingly fast and able to leap tall buildings, flying helicopters … and the great wall of Jerusalem. Yes, Jerusalem. In one of the more unusual movie features, this one plays like “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?”. Pitt globe trots more than James Bond or Jason Bourne.
For many, the zombie sequences and global apocalyptic theme will provide sufficient cinematic entertainment. For the rest of us, it’s fine, but will forgotten as quickly as I am Legend. (06/24/13 UPDATE: the very talented and influential writer Richard Matheson passed away yesterday. Among his work was the novel I AM LEGEND, which was the basis for the Will Smith movie that I referenced in my ending wisecrack. I don’t blame Mr. Matheson’s fine work for that lackluster film. His death is a great loss.)
**NOTE: Israeli newcomer Daniella Kurtesz (age 23) has an interesting screen presence and I look forward to seeing more of her work
**NOTE: Matthew Fox has a blink and you’ll miss him scene as part of the rooftop helicopter rescue team. The original third act had him playing a bigger role.
SEE THIS MOVIE IF: you are a fan of the Zombie craze OR you never miss a chance to see a long-haired Brad Pitt
SKIP THIS MOVIE IF: you are bothered more by muddled story-telling than the global threat of a rapidly spreading zombie virus.
watch the trailer: