Not a Production Disaster
A Film Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS MAY OCCUR
Zombies are everywhere. It’s kind of annoying, actually, but they’re not smoldering hot vampires who somehow have the time to get the perfect body shape while they’re sucking blood. And they’re not all between the ages of 18 and 30, so there’s something. World War Z is based off of Max Brook’s novel of the same name, but that frankly doesn’t mean very much (at least this time around). They share the name, so yeah, that’s about it. There was quite some meat in the book with political commentary, but apparently it’s more fun to watch Brad Pitt run in the rain at a South Korean platform because his wife called him and the zombies heard him. That is supposed to be rectified in the sequel, but we’ll see. On the positive side of things, then. The film is quite thrilling and really, really intense. The sequence at Jerusalem as the zombies are climbing on top of each other to get over the wall is visceral and the sights of them pouring into Israeli streets is palpably terrifying. The film also uses the “in an airplane, claustrophobic space” cliche, but it does it well and in a plane belonging to Belarus, no less. There is something you definitely don’t see everyday. Normally it’s American Airlines or something. Everyone acts well, but the film never really seems to take a breather, so there is little precious time to reflect on how well Mireille Enos stares at her walkie talkie. Seriously, give her more screen time in the sequel, please. Stopping short of greatness, World War Z is a solid franchise starter and doesn’t do that annoying, “Look! A Sequel is Coming!” thing a lot of beginning films do.
The acting is as stated before, fine, but in all honesty there’s not much emphasis on it. Brad Pitt does good work here as the main character Gerry Lane, who used to be a former investigator for the United Nations. His standout moment easily is when he contacts a zombie and then stands at the edge of an apartment complex, waiting to see if he was going to turn into a zombie. Mireille Enos is really good considering the material she’s given, but you can sense the exasperation at not having more material. The supporting cast is fine but you won’t remember many outside of Daniella Kertesz’s Israeli soldier Segen.
The plot is also relatively straightforward, having eschewed most of the book’s complicated political machinery. This is really unfortunate because despite the film’s thrills that are well-done, there is an emptiness surrounding it as if one knows that the deeper themes were cut. Gerry is called back by the UN Deputy Secretary-General Thierry Umutoni to assist with their efforts to stem the epidemic. From there, the film jumps from location to location as Gerry pieces the clues together so he can find some way to That’s essentially the plot. The ways that North Korea and Israel effectively deal with the outbreak are neat twists but in the case of the former, it’s definitely something you want to see and not be told in two to three sentences. The thrills are better handled than the plot, and the Moscow attack scenes that were scrapped are unfortunate. I would have liked to see Vladimir Putin fight them one-on-one.
Technically the film for its budget of nearly $200 million is impressive, but nothing groundbreaking. The zombie hordes are very effectively done, however. Their replicated CGI bodies do not look nearly as fake as they could have, and the overhead shots of them swarming through the streets of Philadelphia are done remarkably well. The best direction by Marc Forster are by far the Jerusalem shots, the tension building palpably as the camera cuts constantly between the people in the square, the walls outside the capital and the narrow alleyways that are about to be swarmed by zombies. Great stuff there.
All in all, World War Z is an incredibly effective zombie thriller, at PG-13 at that. The PG-13 rating in so many ways has gotten incredibly irritating in many movies, like the first Hunger Games that should have been a rated R, but then the movie would not have made as much money, etc… But the team here doesn’t rely on blood to sell the terror. The direction is steady and occasionally riveting and the fantastic score by Marco Beltrami is utterly in sync with the scenes, selling the frames even if the plot doesn’t. A good start to what is claimed to be a trilogy, here’s to the sequel picking up on all of the meaty political bits left out here. I still want to see the North Korea stuff, say what you will about me.
Title: World War Z
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Marc Forster
Producers: Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Ian Bryce
Screenplay: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard, Damon Lindelof
Story: Matthew Michael Carnahan, J. Michael Straczynski
Based On: World War Z by Max Brooks
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, Matthew Fox
Music: Marco Beltrami
Cinematography: Ben Seresin
Editing: Roger Barton, Matt Chesse
Studios: Skydance Productions, Hemisphere Media Capital, GK Films, Plan B Entertainment
Distributers: Paramount Pictures
Running Time: 116 minutes
Release Date: June 21, 2013
Image Courtesy: Evidence Mag, Sci Fi Now UK, Digital Trends, Variety, Bloody-Disgusting