World War Z (2013) – review

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A zombie outbreak threatens to destroy the whole of humanity. Don’t worry though, the UN has decided to send in Brad Pitt to try and locate a possible cure.

Hailed as the first mega-budget zombie film, World War Z was predicted to be a huge flop by many. After all, what with The Walking Dead doing phenomenally well on the small screens, and video games such as Dead Rising and Dead Island selling by the bucket load; the undead sector is and was a little over saturated.  The film, which is based on the 2006 novel of the same name by Max Brooks, went on to prove predictors wrong though, making over $532 million worldwide.

Brad Pitt stars as Gerry Lane – a former UN inspector who left his job to enjoy the family life with his wife Karin (Mireille Enos from television’s The Killing) and his two daughters. One day, on the way to dropping the children at school, all hell breaks loose, leaving the Lane family to literally fight for survival. The beauty of this opening scene is that, due to the high paced editing, it is hard to place where the threat is coming from and what it actually is, as crowds of people are frantically running in all directions.

The difference between World War Z and other zombie-based movies is the sheer size of the set-pieces. Due to budget reasons, in the past we were forced to watch a handful of people deal with the monsters in small towns – sometimes the action had to resort to taking place in just one building. World War Z takes the audience to such countries as Korea, Israel, Wales and of course America, as Brad Pitt hunts for the origin of the breakout in order to hopefully find a cure. Also, in past efforts, zombies have mostly been slow and lumbering, whereas these move like Olympic athletes attempting to break world records, making them far more threatening.

The tension is heightened during most of the action scenes and some set-pieces are fantastic. Look out for the incident on the charter flight out of Israel, which will bring out phobias for flying, crashing, claustrophobia and the inability to escape a horrible situation simultaneously. Another highlight is one that was seen on the movie trailers leading up to the release; where the infected clamber up each other in order to scale the huge walls surrounding Jerusalem.

One obvious problem with the film is in the title. Whilst the outbreak is affecting every country on the planet, we don’t really see a world war, so much as one man’s war. The film can also be a little slow at times, but the action scenes soon make you forget about the lag.

Pitt and Enos are solid in their roles, as are the supporting cast. Shout outs also have to go to the make-up department and visual effects team.

Director Marc Foster (Monster’s Ball, Quantum of Solace) has put together a well-shot, big budget monster/action movie that deserves to be watched. Let’s hope they up the action and scares a little more in the inevitable sequel though.

3.5 / 5 stars     

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