I went to see the World War Z movie today. While there were some great moments in the film, the overall product was not well put together. I honestly don’t care that it has very little in common with the book. I knew that going in. What bothered me were some fundamental flaws in the movie.
First, the pacing was awful. After the first 10 minutes I thought, “Oh great, I’m going to be sick to my stomach from ‘spastic action cam’ for the next two hours.” But after the first 30 minutes or so, there wasn’t really much action to speak of outside of quick gratuitous montages or wide-angle panoramic aerial shots. There were several incredibly anti-climactic moments that really killed the drama when they happened, but propelled the movie forward in a herky-jerky fashion and kept the pacing off the entire film.
Most importantly, the creators of this huge big-budget summer action (such as it was) blockbuster ignored one of the fundamental tenets of good storytelling: “Show, don’t tell.” As an audience member, I was constantly being told things, like what happened to this government or that city, or how this nation controlled the outbreak, or whatever. The audience learns some of the most earth-shattering revelations in the film through nameless military operators telling someone else about them, thus they lose their revelatory status. When we, the audience, arrive, the action has already happened. We are looking at the aftermath, if we are even shown it at all. The scene in the South Korean military base is a prime example. When Brad Pitt’s character is taken into the burned out room and the action is explained to him, and to us, this potentially powerful scene has already happened and is rendered inert.
Finally, along the same lines, the final few minutes of the film felt like the creators ran out of time and money and decided to just sum up the entire sequel to this movie in about 3 minutes. The Brad Pitt voice-over starts with “This isn’t the end, not even close.” Then why are we ending the movie here and listening to this pointless voice-over? This is telling, not showing. It is lazy storytelling, and it is robbing the audience of the most satisfying moments of the overall story, because we only get to experience them via voice-over in the final moments of the film.
In summary, there were great moments, but the sum of the parts really suffered from poor pacing, lazy storytelling, telling instead of showing, and extremely anti-climactic final beats to both the sub-plots and the overall story arc.