Director: Marc Forster
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz
Synopsis: United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to destroy humanity itself.
“Most people don’t believe something can happen until it already has. That’s not stupidity or weakness, that’s just human nature.”
OK, so World War Z the film is pretty dissimilar to World War Z the book, and many people had already written the film off after seeing the first few trailers, condemning it for not portraying the book properly. I’ve read the book (yes I do read!) and now I’ve also seen the film, and while it is nowhere near as good as its source material, it is still a highly enjoyable film featuring some clever ideas, genuine tension and a few scares along the way.
Director Marc Forster wastes no time at all in getting the ball rolling here. No sooner have we been introduced to the Lane family, led by Brad Pitt’s Gerry (a former UN worker) and we are suddenly seeing an entire city overrun by a horde of zombies. The infection takes seconds to spread and the outbreak takes only minutes more. The story moves incredibly quickly, moving the Lane family from the city, to the safety of a naval ship, to then suddenly Gerry finding himself back in the field attempting to find a cure to this world-wide pandemic that has taken roughly 20 minutes to take hold. The pace of the movie rarely lets up, Gerry visits more locations than James Bond, trying to piece together what has happened and how to stop it. It’s only in the, re-written, final third of the movie where things begin to slow down.
Brad Pitt, I’ve always thought, is a wonderful actor and he fully embodies the role of Gerry Lane, bringing empathy and a resilience to a role he is clearly passionate about. The supporting cast of character actors all do their jobs well, some do better than others but no one, to me, came across as poor in this film. David Morse, as an ex-CIA agent locked up in a military base was excellent as always, it’s a shame he wasn’t in the film more. James Badge Dale also stuck in my mind as Captain Speke, who was in charge of the same base that David Morse’s character is housed in. Matthew Fox also makes a brief appearance in the film as one of the troops who helps rescue the Lane family at the start of the film. His role was much bigger originally, and he was to be set up as a villain for any potential sequel, his role was cut down significantly during production though.
From a technical viewpoint, World War Z is pretty high-class. The special effects are mostly well done, making the zombie horde look imposing, which creates a feel of tension, because once one zombie has seen you then there will quickly be ten more coming after you. The editing is slightly blurry, at times adding to the sense of panic but at other times taking away from key action scenes. Visually the film is very well shot, with a high budget and a good lens, man how far things have come since Night Of The Living Dead.
With the pacing of the film being so quick, some of the plot points may fall apart under closer scrutiny and perhaps a second viewing would help to reveal some of those. The only part of the movie I felt let down by was the ending, as I felt it lacked tension and was too predictable. I do however, understand the idea to re-shoot it as the original ending seemed too gung-ho, and would have perhaps been seen as another America saves the day again type of ending. The new ending also leaves the door open for sequels, which can hopefully expand the story and deliver some more of the really blockbuster scenes from the book.
In summary: An enjoyable summer action/horror blockbuster featuring real tension and dread, but lacks gore and any real kick to persuade hardcore horror fans and the die-hard fans of the book. Better than expected, but not the masterpiece it could have been.