Early ‘World War Z’ Reviews Have Critics Divided

Published 2 years ago by

World War Z Skull poster Early World War Z Reviews Have Critics Divided

June 2013 is a month sure to be dominated by DC’s Superman reboot Man of Steel, but several other potential tentpoles have been jostling for attention. One of those - Will Smith and M. Night Shymalan’s After Earth - has already tanked in release and underwhelmed critics while yet another is gearing up for release.

Producer-star Brad Pitt’s World War Z has begun screening for critics, and the early responses are in. Despite the well-documented production problems, more recent footage has at least underlined the sense of realistic desperation felt by Pitt’s Gerry Lane, a former United Nations inspector now tapped to find the source of the zombie infestation ravaging the globe. It remains one our most anticipated releases of the month, and now we have a cross-section of reviews.

The general consensus is definitely mixed, but it doesn’t sound like the utter disaster many people were likely expecting. Interestingly enough, British actor Idris Elba – a standout in Prometheus and Thor  – tweeted a favorable early response, which perhaps sets the general tone for the reviews (read it HERE).

IGN‘s review was generally positive:

But World War Z, inspired by if not really based on the popular book by Max Brooks, isn’t just a zombie movie. And this is where that line about the president comes in: The film, which Pitt also produced, is designed to be less a horror movie than it is a globe-spanning, international thriller, albeit one with zombies in it. This isn’t Rick and Shane camping in the woods. Nah, Pitt’s character, Gerry Lane, jets around the world — well, what’s left of it — in search of an answer to how to stop the plague before it’s too late! You could say this is the epic of zombie films… and it works for the most part.

While Total Film took the movie to task for “sorely lacking in heart,” the zombie menace did the job:

Forster’s zombies aren’t really zombies at all, and they often look more like an angry football crowd on a Saturday night – but there’s never been a more impressive horde of flesh-eaters on the big screen. Sprinting, gnashing, leaping and head-butting their way through civilisation in a swarm of thousands, the Zombie apocalypse finally looks big enough to be believable. Globetrotting from one epic set-piece to the next, WWZ  is at its best when the screen is filled – with CG hordes pouring through crowded streets, piling high at city walls and overrunning helicopters like ants.

Digital Spy definitely enjoyed the experience, while underlining one aspect which may prove off-putting for the gore-hounds out there (which is a zombie movie’s traditional core audience):

Diehard zombie fans may find there’s not enough gore, no lingering close-ups of the undead feasting on entrails, but grossness is replaced by a richly thick atmosphere of constant threat. The hellish tableaux of cityscapes where the masses are made to look like colonies of bacteria blooming in a petri dish are truly horrifying, and Gerry is always an inch away from being swallowed up in it.

world war z zombie wall Early World War Z Reviews Have Critics Divided

Telegraph is not so impressed, and highlights the real issue that fans of Max Brooks’ original novel will have to overcome:

Brooks’s novel was a thinly-veiled parable about American foreign policy and post-millennial anxiety, told from several points of view: in fact, it had much in common with Steven Soderbergh’s terrific 2011 medical thriller Contagion. Marc Forster’s film junks the satire and multiple perspectives, and instead recasts the story as an uncomplicated globe-trotting thriller. On one side we have Lane and a roster of temporary sidekicks, and on the other, an inexhaustible supply of the living dead.

The Times of London was generally favorable in its overview, and includes an intriguing – if curious – reference to a famous 15th century Dutch painter:

Despite a lavish budget heading for $200 million (£131 million), World War Z borders on a damp squib for traditional zombie fans. 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.

World War Z helicopter swarm Early World War Z Reviews Have Critics Divided

So what does an average moviegoer make of all this? World War Z sounds like it will prove to be precisely what it is: a huge, globe-spanning popcorn movie very loosely based on a complex, celebrated novel starring Brad Pitt and faceless hordes of CGI zombies. Taken in this context it doesn’t sound like a bad thing, despite the exhaustively-reported spate of production problems.

Casual summer movie audiences have most likely made up their minds about this one already, and June will likely have enough counter-programming to satisfy the crowds allergic to roving swarms of the undead. Judging from the early critical responses, there are two main factors about World War Z which may prove to be liabilities: the wild deviations from the beloved source novel and the marked lack of blood and guts.

world war z trailer brad pitt Early World War Z Reviews Have Critics Divided

The Max Brooks novel was a rare mix of suspense, cutting social commentary… and zombies. The book was always going to be rough to adapt, give the multiple viewpoints, the episodic flashback structure, and the lack of a central protagonist. But a book is a book and a movie is a movie, and when word hit that it would become a blockbuster adaptation, smart fans knew to expect the filmmakers to take certain liberties.

The harder sell might be the lack of gore to the hardcore blood-and-guts crowd. While Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake was arguably responsible for the on-going zombie craze, and it was indeed a summer blockbuster hit, it was also gory as hell and didn’t feature any A-list stars. This makes World War Z something of an anomaly. It certainly has a lot of ground to cover in order to just break even at the box office, but it will be fascinating to watch it’s progress.


World War Z opens in theaters on June 21st, 2013

Source: The Playlist

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  1. Meh
    Already made up my mind to skip it even if it turns out good

  2. I’ll wait for Screenrants review.

    I trust you guys more.

  3. I think this movie will do very well, zombies and all.

  4. I don’t think this would have been a difficult book to adapt at all. It should have stayed true to the book where a film version would essentially be “Courage Under Fire” with zombies, which could have been great if handled correctly.

    This might be good or it might not, but based on what I’ve seen and heard it essentially has no ties to the book other than the title and thats unfortunate.

    • Listen, it might be good. But, if they were going to make a movie that had nothing to do with the book, why didn’t they just use a different title? Any folks who were fans of the book can either smell the fake-out in the air, or are going to be vocally irritated leaving the theater. If you wanted to sell a Brad Pitt Vs WorldWide Zombies story, why did you need Max Brooks’ book to do it?

  5. Ill go 45% on RT

    • You’re too generous

  6. Simply…WORLD WAR Z is not a zombie movie, but a newly-formed creature-feature that will either break ground and over-performed despite its controversy behind the scenes; or it will yield to the attrition of competition, thus having to make its nut overseas.

    All other talk on this subject is pure wind.

    • Its a Zombie flick.

      Albeit a PG-13 Version.

      • Ca’tbe worsthan Warm bodies, really. At least love don’t conquer virus this time

        • Warm bodies was a parody of the genre. People actually took it seriously?

          • Warn bodies ain’t a parody. Parodies have jokes in it instead if the whole movie being a joke. And the trailer usually is clear on it being a parody.

            What you have with Warm bodies is a disturbed necrophiliac writer version of Twilight but with zombies.

    • Even if it is not a zombie movie the virus outbreak concept has been already numerous times over the years, so anyone expecting it to break ground might be disappointed. I have not read the book, but adaptions are a hit or miss affair much of the time. They just need to put a good film on the screen and maybe it will catch on.

  7. Die hard fan of the book, but I’m willing to check out the flick. I always thought a faux-documentary style cable miniseries, with “actual” footage of the attacks, news reports, and re-enacments of the events which take place in the book would’ve worked.

    Looks like we’re getting the complete opposite, but I’m a fan of zombie flicks in general, so I’ll check this out. Definitely looking forward to one of the few things it looks like the movie and book have in common, which appears to be the globe spanning feel of a zombie apocalypse.

    Closest flick to come to that was one of the crappy Resident Evil movies, and even then that was limited to a couple of scenes.

    • And you are Hard fan hahahaha

  8. Can’t wait to see it :)

  9. I love the book too, and while I’m annoyed about the approach they took (why not call it something else when they completely ignore the book), I really like what I’m hearing and seeing about it so far. If I play the ignorance game as well as they did, and completely put any connection to the book aside, I should be thoroughly entertained. The trailers definitely looked epic.

    “Forster’s zombies [...] often look [...] like an angry football crowd on a Saturday night”

    Now, that’s scary! I’m in!

  10. I’m not sure if the deviations from the book will harm it.

    In fact, I’ll expand on that to say that a majority of people will have never even heard of the book.

    The success of this movie really depends on Man Of Steel though because I don’t know about you guys but in the UK, WWZ releases on June 21st, a week after MOS. If people can only see one movie this month, I can see it being the one that gets the most buzz and word of mouth and that will be the Superman flick.

    I won’t say WWZ will be a total disaster but it could become a big summer hit that has a large chunk of its takings “stolen” by MOS. Unless WWZ remains in theatres for a little longer than normal to recoup some of those losses.

  11. Meh. I’ve already made up my mind.

    Going to go see this no matter how many people tell me it’s going to be bad.

    The book was terrible.


    Nuff said. Pass.

  13. Awful CGI. Nuff said.

    • Agreed

    • Awful? Servicable. A crowd simulation that dense has never been attempted before. It’s not going to be photoreal at this point.

  14. Nuff said, said.

  15. Why didn’t they just make their own movie instead of optioning a really good book and turning it into something completely different?

    • The title.

  16. Not at all a fan of Forster since QoS, but I’m glad he got rid of the social commentary. I honestly couldn’t care less what some writer thinks about global politics. I like to make up my own mind, I don’t want to go to a theater to get lectured…

  17. I am a huge zombie fan but I am definitely passing on this till DVD…. I can get by the crappy looking zombies.. It looks like something I would let my five ur old watch if he want to see a cartoon zombie flick

  18. I loved the book. This won’t be anything like the book. I’ll still see it. Like someone said earlier, World War Z would’ve worked great if it were filmed like Contagion. Hell, the only thing that movie was missing was zombies and it would’ve been a 9.5/10 instead of an 8/10. Anyway, I’ll see this and Man of Steel.

  19. I’m sure this will be much better than that dreadful Iron Man3

  20. definitely checking it out

  21. Dawn of the dead by Zach snyder is the most underrated movie, not just zombie flick. the movie never gets its due IMO the movie is much better than 300, yet everybody remembers the latter which sucked.
    With the case of WWZ idk of the source material never reading the book but the movie doesnt look that good. it just looks like I am legend before everyone dies like an inadvertant prequel. not a fan of cgi zombies though, i like to see gross detail in zombies that looks real, anyone can make a cg zombie.

    My rant has concluded….

  22. At first glance I thought the swarms of zombie hoards were just illegal aliens rushing the USA’s southern border!! (Hee-hee!).

    Seriously, tho, I will give this film a watch when available on Netflix. It might almost be worth the watch to see something besides the tired old cliche of flesh-chomping, slow & shuffling zombies that are not all that hard to take out if you see them coming quick enough to pick up a big-blaster gun or head-chopper weapon.

    • There are secret caches of zombies scattered about? Like buried in the backyard, or something?

  23. if you have no brain only tv go watch this

  24. I loved the book. This won’t be anything like the book. I’ll still see it. Like someone said earlier, World War Z would’ve worked great if it were filmed like Contagion. Hell, the only thing that movie was missing was zombies and it would’ve been a 9.5/10 instead of an 8/10. Anyway, I’ll see this and Man of Steel.

  25. Eh ill take it for what it is. It looks pretty Damn entertaining to me so ill see it in the theater if I can make the time. These summer blockbuster action flicks ae always better in the theater


    • ”For Third, the star of “World War Z” Brad Pitt once appeared in the drama “Seven Years in Tibet”. Video support country efforts to achieve the Dalai Lama’s autonomy under the occupation of China. Pitt may not be aware of this case, but Beijing will not easily forget the wrongs done to him.”

  27. Seems like the early reviews out on the web it very mixed but it seems to be more positive than negative. I think the biggest complaints people have is that it’s nothing like the book. Some people liked that it wasn’t like the book but took some references here and there. I will wait and see but for the most part it’s looking like a 3.5/5 star movie type of deal

  28. I was hoping to see the Battle of Yonkers on the big screen.

    Now I am hoping a watered down version of it is not in the movie.

    • They run around this Pitt’s ”zombies”, so imagine the big wave of human bodies in cgi , fake zombies sweeping through Yonkers flooding all the tanks and people.I doubt that the battle was shown in movie , in novel people in this struggle have used the all potential in a stupid way , RAH-66 Comanche,Abrams tanks and land-based battle system Land Warrior.
      This film is a jump for the money and from the book was only the title.

    • I’d like to see that action on this Ukrainian bridge where they used chemical weapon.

      • Yeah, or the Indian mooutainside.