World War Z

World War Z is based on the novel of the same name by Max Brooks, a sequel to his satirical Zombie Survival Manual. It follows Brad Pitt a former UN investigator who is tasked with finding a way to stop a zombie pandemic. Plagued by filming problems, World War Z was met with mixed, but favourable reviews and the sequel in back in progress (after being cancelled once already). World War Z looks at a zombie outbreak on a global scale, and explores many different scenarios, walled cities, zombies on planes, zombies within the army, etc. Personally I loved it, but in a break from my usual biasedness, I can see why some people didn’t like it.

Firstly, the film is very quick and frantic. It jumps literally from America to South Korea to Israel to Wales. In 2 hours. I’m pretty certain that World War Z could have been comfortably longer. It almost has a computer game feel to it because of the jumping, almost like each sequence is a level within a video game. And because of this frantic nature, it seems that wherever Gerry (Brad Pitt) goes, everything goes very wrong very quickly. Which actually gives the impression of him being a bit of a nuisance. There are also so many characters with so much potential, such as his wife, who by the second half of the film is confined to off-screen presence only appearing to make inappropriately timed calls. And because of this, many of the characters seem to make very stupid decisions, for the sake of moving the film along quickly. Gun fire is used all too commonly, conveniently creating scenes of running away from zombies. Now, I think it’s fairly established, that you don’t make noise with zombies. It’s like rule number 1. So the plotline is fuelled by moments of incredible stupidity.

Ever wondered what would happen if Zombies got on a plane?!

Ever wondered what would happen if Zombies got on a plane?!

The visuals in World War Z are exceptional. And this is where the overall pace of the film works very well. Particularly the scene in Israel where the zombies get over the protective wall. It’s completely terrifying how quickly it all happens, and actually from breakout to the end of the film, it’s probably about a week in real-time, which is shockingly frightening considering most of the world is infected. Upon looking back at World War Z, it’s not really a horror film, and the violence isn’t even on the same level as say The Walking Dead, it’s more of an action film, with a few intense moments, which I think works in its favour. It’s too clean-cut to be a horror film. And the moments of terror come from the impressive visuals. Seeing a town which was totally safe not 10 minutes ago literally full to the brim with fast, blood thirsty zombies is pretty impressive.

One of the most impressive and scary pieces of cinema in recent years...

One of the most impressive and scary pieces of cinema in recent years…

Having said all this, Brad Pitt’s character, Gerry, gives me a bit of a headache. On the one hand he’s very intelligent, intuitive and protective. He’s a decent, likeable character, but on the other hand, he’s actually totally irrelevant. Pretty much everything until the last sequence at WHO headquarters, is either caused by him, or doesn’t matter either way if he’s there or not. His character is very bland, and a bit samey. He doesn’t have a real purpose, and rarely contributes anything of any real substance to the story (like I said, with the exception of the end sequence). Which is a shame really, because Brad Pitt is probably one of my favourite actors, started out his film career as a bit of onscreen fluff to get female audiences interested (Thelma and Louise?) and has grown up, and matured into one of the best actors in modern cinema. He’s definitely a lot more capable than Gerry and I feel that he’s been done a bit of injustice having to portray such a weak character.

Gerry finally comes into his own at WHO headquarters

Gerry finally comes into his own at WHO headquarters

Nevertheless, I really enjoyed World War Z. I thought it was the right amount of action and horror, not too gory and violent, but not filled with random inexplicable action sequences. Despite the pace being a little confusing, it actually works quite well in the overall tone of the film. And despite its obvious flaws, I can’t wait for the sequel.

12 thoughts on “World War Z

  1. Pingback: » Top 10 Ridley Scott Films Fernby Films

  2. You’re right about Gerry being very inconsequential to the story. He really wasn’t very proactive, was he, more like somebody who things happened too, rather than because-of. Nice review!!

    • That was my biggest bug bear about the film! I’m not saying he should have been a regular-Joe-turned-action-hero, but given he was fairly high up within a powerful government organisation, you’d think he’d have a bit of ‘oomph’. Which is a shame really, this is probably the worst role I’ve seen Brad Pitt in, and considering I’ve read that he invested quite a lot of his own financial backing to the film and ironically, has taken over Troy (!) as his top-grossing film! But I could probably name at least 10 BP films in which he is far superior to the ‘Gerry’ role!
      Thanks for reading! I’m interested to hear what others think, because it’s divided so many critics and audiences. 🙂

    • I’m definitely in agreement with you there! It doesn’t deserve the criticism it got. I think one of the problems was it was made to be ‘an audience pleaser’. So I think it was a bit too zombie-heavy for non-zombie fans, and a bit light on gruesome horror sequences for zombie-lovers! Maybe in the sequel they’ll tighten the plotline to appeal to those who liked it, who I suspect are established-zombie-genre-fans. 🙂

      • That would be grand! It was a lot more solid than expected, but I understand your criticisms about a lot of the things. I suppose that we will wait and see now!

    • It’s an odd film which has torn me. I’m such a huge fan of the zombie genre, (games, films, tv shows alike!) and I can see why it got all the stick it did, but on the other hand, I really liked it! I was expecting it to be rubbish based on what I had read about it, but I ended up really enjoying it. I hope they fill out Gerry’s character in the sequel, for me his character was the biggest let down in it. But I’m biased because I think Brad Pitt is great!

        • Well I’ve read that they’ve replaced the director for the sequel, instead of Marc Forster it’s now Juan Antonio Bayona (Impossible dir. the tsunami film), but most involved are remaining quite tight lipped about the sequel plot! The end was left kind of unresolved/resolved, they found a way to make themselves ‘invisible’, not necessarily kill off the zombies, so maybe there might be room for a zombie/infection mutation story line? But then I suppose that’s much of the same from the first film. I’m intrigued as to what they’ll do, I hope it isn’t just an excuse for lame gigantic budget action sequences and Michael Bay style nonsense, all in the name of making a quick profit! They definitely need to exploit the small fan-base they’ve got, because I think most people didn’t rate the film, so why appeal to a mass audience when you know that there are some die-hard genre fans who will appreciate something a little off-the-wall? 🙂 Just my thoughts…

          • They used speakers to attract them, then bombed them. I thought that was how they win in the end of the film. I dont know what they will do, hope they try something more towards the book but the first made money so they may follow the same style. We’ll just have to find out 😀

            • Ahh yes of course! My mistake! I think that says a lot about the ending if I can’t remember that bit! Still, I give it credit, and like you said, definitely intrigued to see how the sequel is handled!

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