Review: World War Z

Poster for 2013 action/horror film World War Z

Genre: Action, Horror
Certificate: 15
UK Release Date: 21st June 2013
Runtime: 116 minutes
Director: Marc Forster
Writer: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard, Damon Lindelof
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos , James Badge Dale, Matthew Fox
Synopsis: When a zombie pandemic engulfs the globe, a UN investigator must locate the source in order to produce a cure.

 

 

 

Sometimes, a film’s production difficulties virtually disappear in the finished product. Unfortunately, World War Z is not one of those films. Fortunately though, despite its well-publicised problems, it’s a decent enough action flick with some good scares and a great central performance.

Former United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his family are thrust right into the midst of a zombie apocalypse before being miraculously airlifted to safety by the US government. Gerry is subsequently coerced into going back into the field in order to uncover a cure for the pandemic.

Based very loosely on a novel by Max Brooks, World War Z sets its stall out from the opening scenes, hurling the audience into the centre of the action. The film moves at a breakneck pace for its first hour, placing Gerry and his family repeatedly into the path of the zombie hordes. Whilst the trailers were coy about showing the zombie threat, the film is keen to emphasise one fact about the undead – there are an awful lot of them.

And they’re great zombies as well. Much like 28 Days Later, these are speedy creatures that seem to have been, somewhat ironically, woken up by eternal sleep. Their jerky movements are almost like stop motion animation, rendering them very creepy indeed. It also turns out that Brad Pitt is very good at looking scared. Who knew?

Pitt’s performance is one of the film’s highlights. As he ages and some of his youthful beauty fades away, his acting ability is coming to the forefront more and more. Here, his portrayal of the tortured family man is engaging and provides World War Z with a beating emotional heart.

However, crucially, the third act is absolute rubbish. It is this segment of World War Z, set at a WHO research centre in Wales, that was subject to hasty rewrites at the last minute – and it shows. It brings the film to a close, but is lightyears away from actually being a climax. The only worthwhile thing about it is the surprise appearance of Peter Capaldi, famed for turning the air blue as Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It. As the banality of the finale unfolded, it was almost me firing out expletives.

Despite costly production problems, World War Z should do okay at the box office and a sequel has already been greenlit. Hopefully they’ll get it right next time, otherwise a promising franchise could be undead in the water.

6/10

 

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