Here's the good news: WORLD WAR Z could be a lot worse.
For a film that was publically reworked very late in the game and elicited worries from cinematic zombie fans, this is the not the disaster many predicted. In fact, there's a pretty good movie in here somewhere. It does a nice job of portraying the immediate chaos of a worldwide outbreak—the sense of danger, confusion and just how quickly human society would collapse. It's also large in scale, taking advantage of an international setting and big production values. The zombie swarms make for cool visuals and tense scenes, and although the film features a lot of CGI, there is still a good amount of practical effects and physical extras in it. (The zombies themselves are scary, but they all sound like velociraptors from JURASSIC PARK.) And the first act as a whole actually sets things up very well. It's very easy to relate to Brad Pitt trying to protect his family and keep them safe during a very violent and unstoppable situation. It's terrifying, exciting and emotional at the same time.
And then the movie abandons all of that so Pitt can go out and save the world, because apparently he's the only one who can. The relationships take a literal backseat as his family spends the rest of the movie waiting around on a ship with only a couple minutes of further screen time. I haven't read Max Brooks' original book so I can't tell you if sending Pitt off on his own adventures corresponds better to the original story, but it definitely hurts the emotional crux and honestly takes some of the fun out of it.
It's a smaller symptom of a bigger story that's full of trite, convenient turns at every step of the way—to the point where it feels like you're following the lucky few who were pre-determined to survive the undead plague. Everything continually goes perfectly so Pitt and his family can escape unscathed. "Hey, there's a giant RV nobody else noticed that we escape in!" "Hey, there's a giant loaded gun in this RV we can use!" "Hey, there's the world's nicest drug addict to help me find my daughter's asthma medication!" "Hey, here's a random Hispanic family to provide us food, shelter and beer for no reason!" It's like a video game where there's always the right option to choose. Even after Pitt gets rescued by the government and his family is safe on a boat, it doesn't stop. My favorite is when Pitt uses a grenade on an airplane, crashing it and killing everyone on board except he and his friend, miraculously. (I lost count of the number of people who sacrifice themselves so Brad Pitt can live.) And then the crash site just happens to be within walking distance from the WHO facility that has the cure and they know exactly how to get there despite it being a foreign country. WORLD WAR Z should seriously be called HOW I MAGICALLY SURVIVED THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE.
As for the much-discussed reshot ending, I get what they were going for with the quieter, calmer conclusion. It's a stark contrast to the intense, well-executed siege of Israel, but I'd much rather watch what we got than another giant generic battle scene.
The Blu-Ray features an Unrated Cut which adds seven extra minutes to the runtime. There aren't any major new scenes, just a few seconds of extra gore or intense images sprinkled throughout. It makes it a more effective film overall. (Who wants a bloodless zombie movie?)
Origins (8:21): Discover the history of WORLD WAR Z, from the original 2006 novel to finding the right team to adapt it for the big screen.
Looking to Science (7:29): A look at the concept and appeal of the zombie, as well as some of the science used in the film and how realistic it his.
WORLD WAR Z: Production (35:15): This four-part Making Of documentary covers the opening Philadelphia outbreak sequence (actually shot in Scotland), the movie's visual effects, the centerpiece action scene in Israel, and finally the reshot third act from the airplane crash on. It's a fairly detailed feature, with lots of BTS footage and interviews with key cast and crew.
The Blu-Ray also includes a DVD, UltraViolet and Digital Copy of the film.
WORLD WAR Z is a solid yet uneven take on the zombie movie. There are definitely problems with the script, although surprisingly not with the reshot ending. Probably worth checking out for the spectacle, but it's not one I'll revisit regularly.
Extra Tidbit: Peter Capaldi plays a W.H.O. doctor in this film, released a few months before he was cast as the new Doctor Who.