World War Z
There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding World War Z – development issues, reshoots and more. However the fruits of Marc Forster‘s labours are finally hitting cinema screens amid a wash of contradicting opinions… so I thought I’d share mine with you all.
First things first. I haven’t read Max Brooks‘ novel, although now I intend to. However I understand that the book has only been used as a loose basis for the film, and that there are a lot of changes – some that a few critics aren’t happy about. I can’t comment on any of those facets, so I’ll be approaching this review solely looking at the movie and it’s merits and faults.
As far as storylines go, World War Z is no different to any other zombie film – a rather virulent disease causing the infected to seek out people to munch on unexpectedly ravages the human race. Former UN employee Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is roped back into his old job to try and locate the origins of the pandemic, and use “patient zero” to find a solution.
The story may not be complicated, but it’s pretty well executed – just to warn you though… the movie is relentless. From about 3 minutes in during the traffic jam (that you experience in the trailer) the action and suspense just doesn’t let up, leading an assault on the senses that I must say I rather enjoyed.
There are a few sequences in the movie that look borrowed from other zombie movies (a tower block sequence reminiscent of 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later mashed into one, and a scene at a checkpoint at the city walls borrowed from Resident Evil: Apocalypse), but to be honest it pulls it off in style, largely down to how they’ve approached the zombie aspect.
These zombies don’t run. They don’t even sprint. It’s like they’re almost liquid, washing over people, cars, walls and each other like they’re a wave of water… but with teeth. It’s actually pretty spectacular to watch… and as it only takes about 12 seconds for someone bitten to turn, a large mass of zombies is created in a matter of minutes.
At one point you follow Gerry as he runs through a cramped city escorted by armed guards, and the zombies appear from nowhere – but they don’t just grab you and try to nibble. They literally launch themselves from about 10 feet away to take out their intended target. I don’t care what anyone says – if these kind of zombies actually existed, we’d all be completely unprepared, and just straight out screwed from the get go.
As I’ve said before the movie is not without it’s faults… I can’t go into everything as I want to keep this review spoiler-free, so I’ll only discuss what you see in the trailer.
The part where you have a huge wave of zombies clambering over each other to get over a 100ft wall, although an awesome spectacle to look at, is relatively easy to circumvent. What’s worse, is that the first person to notice is Gerry, who’s on the other side of the wall on the ground – there are bloody armed guards on the wall itself, and a helicopter circling the checkpoint for fuck’s sake! All they needed to do was throw a well-placed grenade or fire a 203 shell at the base of the zombie pile and there’d be no problem.
There are a few other bits I have gripes with, but thankfully nothing is a deal-breaker and I was still able to enjoy the movie as a whole for the spectacle of the zombie horde. There are a few political undertones too, and overall the movie feels more like a political thriller than a horror despite the undead element.
The music throughout is awesome though, largely due to the influence of British rock band Muse – some great bass and high tempos make chase sequences particularly tense and fast-paced.
The acting in the movie, while not bad at all, didn’t really lead me to gain any emotional attachments to the characters. The best performance being put in by the Mossad soldier Segen played by Daniella Kertesz, and the most amusing part for me was the inclusion of Lost regular Matthew Fox – he literally appears for less than a minute. That did lead me to think that he initially may have had a larger part, but due to rewrites and reshoots possibly had his part cut. If not, then he’s really scraping the barrel by playing “Parajumper” after roles in Vantage Point and Alex Cross.
Aside from my few issues, I generally quite liked World War Z – it’s entertaining seeing the carnage the zombies create, and although a little predictable towards the end I’d recommend watching it. While it’s lacking in substance, it makes up for it in tense action and thrills. A good zombie movie? Yes. An intelligent thought-provoking movie it is not.