If you've been following the long, strange story of Brad Pitt's zombie apocalypse movie World War Z lurching awkwardly towards its release date -- racking up script rewrites, additional weeks of shooting, and a budget creep to the tune of nearly $100 million along the way -- you've probably had your doubts about what sort of final product might actually be hitting the big screen. Especially when you consider how the original material, Max Brook's book by the same name, is so astoundingly good there's no way the film version won't be a disappointment by comparison. The trailer's been criticized for relying too heavily on CGI, there's been a suspicious lack of any zombie closeups, and many signs were pointing to this hotly-anticipated story unraveling into overblown, overly lame Michael Bay territory.
Well, World War Z's early reviews are officially rolling in … and I think you're going to want to take a look at what the critics are saying.
So, reactions so far aren't overwhelmingly positive, but they're actually looking pretty damn good. Check out these blurbs from those in the thumbs up column:
(The film) emerges as a surprisingly smart, gripping and imaginative addition to the zombie-movie canon. Showing few visible signs of the massive rewrites, reshoots and other post-production patchwork that delayed its release from December 2012, this sleekly crafted, often nail-biting tale of global zombiepocalypse clicks on both visceral and emotional levels, resulting in an unusually serious-minded summer entertainment. -- Variety
(…) a rocking, smart, pulse-pounding big-scale pandemic with raging zombies, palpable tension, and the kind of hero star turn Pitt hasn't performed in a long time. -- Deadline
World War Z is an immersive apocalyptic spectacle that tosses the viewer into the deep end of a global zombie uprising and doesn't let up until close to the end. -- The Hollywood Reporter
There’s never been a more impressive horde of flesh-eaters on the big screen. Sprinting, gnashing, leaping and head-butting their way through civilization 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. -- Total Film
Everything about the film moves at a breakneck pace, including the zombies. It's a total rush. (…) 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. -- Digital Spy
As for the zombies themselves, despite what we've seen in the ads, they're actually a mix of the fast, running type of ghoul and the slow, shambling, classic Romero variety. The script's reasoning behind this is pretty clever, actually. And while the mountains and mountains of undead that swarm like human-sized insects run the risk of being too CGI at times, ultimately I found that these scenes worked pretty well. The all-out bedlam and anxiety of the mass attacks displaces any such concerns -- IGN
Plus, a couple of encouraging tweets from director Darron Aronofsky and painfully hot actor Idris Elba:
(Idris Elba, I love you so much I'm totally not even gonna nitpick you about how 28 Weeks Later is not, technically, a zombie film.)
Of course, not everyone is a fan of what World War Z has to offer:
There’s no heart to be found amid the guts. What we get is a collection of moderately violent action set-pieces untroubled by humor or broader coherence. -- The Telegraph
It ignores or fudges various geopolitical realities, and in fumbling away one of the chief strengths of its source material morphs into just another anonymous quasi-post-apocalyptic blockbuster. -- Screen International
None of the writers is at his best, and the film bears unmistakable signs of having been assembled by a Hollywood studio over-preoccupied with earning a family-friendly certificate. -- The Daily Mail
Brad Pitt's 'baby', which he's been working on since 2007 — is mostly bland and extremely bloated. It's Z for zombie, in case you're wondering. But a more apt title would be World War Zzzzz... -- London Evening Standard
Having scanned most of the early critical reactions, I'm thinking that World War Z definitely isn't going to be the groundbreaking, spectacularly creepy experience the source material was -- but we knew that already. The good news is that it doesn't sound like it's going to be 2013's biggest flop either. The PG-13 rating probably means the closeup zombie action will fall a little flat for us diehard horror fans, but in terms of delivering an enjoyable pandemic thriller/zombie survival story, my call is that it's going to be worth the ticket price when it hits theaters on June 21st.
What do you think about these early reviews? Are you planning on seeing World War Z?
Image via Paramount