Friday, 21 June 2013

[REEL QUICK REVIEW] - World War Z


City destroyed poster in World War Z


Director: Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace, Stranger Than Fiction)
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, Fana Mokoena
Run-time: 116 minutes
Certificate: 15
(feels more like a 12A)

IN SHORT: World War Z is thrilling as a big blockbuster action piece but super disappointing as a zombie/virus movie.

Zombies, just like vampires, have been done to death recently. The most successful modern zombie films (28 Days Later, Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead) prove to be ones that offer something new to this dead-on-its-feet sub-genre. It's also no coincidence that the above films are modestly-budgeted productions. In my opinion, the key to a zombie/virus film is the internalisation of the conflict and exploring the psychological impact that such a catastrophic event has upon individuals. World War Z's epidemic is globalised and its budget ginormous, creating a deeply impersonal, rather cold Hollywoodised tone that betrays the fantastic source material.

Brad Pitt is family-man Gerry, a retired UN employee, who is reluctantly called back into duty when a zombie virus mysteriously swarms the whole of Earth. He's tasked with finding answers and a possible cure before the extinction of humanity itself. Pitt is okay in the role but it's not exactly challenging either. He spends his time running away from hordes of indecipherable zombies and jetting around the world with a concerned look on his face. The rest of the cast are under-used or shortchanged. Former Lost star, Matthew Fox, doesn't even have a line and Pitt's on-screen wife Mireille Enos could've been a cardboard cut-out for all I know.

I'm a massive zombie fan, so World War Z was a complete disappointment in that respect. The origin behind the zombies was only loosely explored and the 'cure' is well... really silly. Although the film is 15-rated (PG-13 in USA), there's a noticeable lack of blood too. When a character has her arm cut off to stop the spread of the infection, the camera cuts up to her facial expression and writhes of agony. We don't even see blood on the bandages! And its not just the gore that lacks sufficient bite - the zombies themselves have a digitalised feel to them (think the undead in I Am Legend). Due to the sheer scale of the zombie hordes, CGI is sadly preferred over prosthetic work.

Director, Marc Forster, is a confusing man to figure out. His recent string of films suggest a film-maker who's action-focused but he started his career with thoughtful efforts such as The Kite Runner, Finding Neverland and one of my favourite films, Stranger Than Fiction. Unfortunately, those early efforts are a world away as World War Z is a standard end-of-the-world disasterpiece, complete with lazy montages and overly expensive visual effects. As a dizzy, fast-paced actioner to munch your popcorn to it's satisfying enough (although the best bits are in the trailer!) but for horror/zombie fans this is far too cookie cutter for me to recommend.


Brad Pitt saving his family in World War Z

5 comments:

  1. Good review Ben. A very tense and suspenseful movie for the first 30 minutes, then it just died out and got a bit stupid.

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  2. I think I must have enjoyed it more than you did, but I went in with low expectations so I think I was just pleasantly surprised. I would have liked for more globe hopping, and towards the end when he is worried about his family, a scene or two showing them at the refugee camp so we can understand why he is worried would have helped with our empathy. But overall it kept my interest and had good pace I thought, so not as bad as it could have been.

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  3. Whenever Brad is there we expect a good thriller and proved again.... good entertainment and thrill............

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  4. It shouldn't have been called 'World War Z'.

    http://www.zombiehall.com/2013/06/world-war-z.html

    Nice review.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Worth reading! I've read your article "[REEL QUICK REVIEW] - World War Z". Great sharing!

    ReplyDelete

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