World War Z

World War Z presents an opportunity to make zombies scary again.
Tom Glasson
Published on June 17, 2013


It's been an interesting year for zombies. Not that they'd know - I mean they're zombies, but still. On television, they've been stabbed, shot, crushed, burned, shredded, stomped on and driven over by the characters of The Walking Dead. In film, though, they've been loved by a cute girl (Warm Bodies) and will soon have their own police force (RIPD). So for director Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace), World War Z represented an opportunity to make zombies scary again...and help people forget about Quantum of Solace.

Based on the novel by Max Brooks (Mel's son), World War Z follows the traditional zombification of earth via an unknown contagion. The rapidity of the contagion's spread is matched only by humanity's descent into anarchy, and both are disturbing in their separate ways. Caught in the middle is former UN investigator Gerry (Brad Pitt) and his family. After an initial and harrowing escape to an aircraft carrier, Gerry agrees to seek out the contagion's 'patient zero' in exchange for his family being kept safe. It's the perfect device for introducing the personal element into the story without having to lug the family around in every scene and slow things down. Touché, writers. Touché.

Early on in the piece, Gerry advises a terrified family that "movement is life", and it proves helpful advice both for the characters and the film. World War Z is a fast-paced, globetrotting adventure from start to finish; one in which even the zombies are fleet of foot. Only two countries - North Korea and Israel - seem to be managing the crisis (albeit by radically different methods), and the jet-setting between those and other locations allows for some spectacular set pieces.

Sitting on just an M-rating, World War Z does well to maintain the scare factor despite the lack of gore, and the 3D is cleverly (and sparingly) used to add greater dimension to the large-scale action sequences. Pitt's performance is largely understated and, if anything, could have used a touch more fear given the enormity and horror of the crisis around him. Still, he looks the part and brings some quality star power to this impressive genre-piece.


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