Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Review: World War Z

Release Date:  June 21, 2013
Running Time: 116 minutes
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz
Who to see it with: Someone who wishes zombie stories featured less gore and more action


If you've seen the World War Z trailer, you are probably not expecting much from the movie. The trailer looks like a typical summer action movie with an over the top (and not very well done) special effects budget. Well, thankfully the movie is a LOT better than the disappointing trailer. World War Z tells the story of the zombie apocalypse where the zombies are fast, ruthless, and can turn people in a matter of seconds. It spreads so quickly that most of the world is overrun in a matter of weeks. Gerry Lane (Pitt) is sent to go figure out where the disease originated from in the hopes of finding some answers and a cure. This adventure takes him all over the world, which at times feels forced. It feels like the filmmakers wanted Gerry to span the globe at the expense of inserting many story holes. But, those holes aside, it allows the film to have some interesting variety in their locales. 

I started off talking about the effects of the film and I'm happy to report that most of the movie's effects don't look as terrible as the trailer makes it appear. There is plenty of CG usage but thankfully the amount of scenes where hordes of zombies are on screen is fairly minimal. Most of the scenes involve a smaller amount of zombies using actors and make up, which contributes to a more believable movie. One thing I didn't expect is the amount of tension in the movie. From the initial attacks to Gerry going through tense, zombie infested areas, there are many suspenseful sequences. Many of the scenes are actually pretty imaginative and leave the viewer on edge wondering where the zombies will come from next. Unfortunately, these scenes can't overcome some pretty fantastical situations and the few scenes where the special effects really pull you out of the movie.  

Rent it.

WWZ feels less like a cohesive story and more like an assortment of zombie apocalypse set pieces linked by a very resilient, globe-trotting protagonist. This allowed the makers to easily use multiple post-apocalyptic settings and horror scenarios, but makes everything feel a bit disconnected. The book it's based on also jumps between locations and perspectives, but its postwar, documentary-like approach better connected its various situations and themes. Not much time is spent with any character other than Brad Pitt's, but their personalities are established fairly well considering their brief times on screen. 

Action was probably not the best choice of genre for an adaptation, but WWZ does action much better than you'd expect following the terrible trailer. The trailer also doesn't hint at the film's more effective, suspenseful moments. I liked how the pacing goes from 0 to 60 within the first five minutes, though I wonder if the film is too short. It ends appropriately but abruptly, probably because the film's structure resembles several short stories stitched together rather than being built around a standard climax. World War Z offers a fair amount of tension and a creative depiction of a zombie apocalypse, but not much of a story.

Rent it.

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