Film Review: World War Z

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Director: Marc Forster
Writers: Matthew Michael Carnahan (screenplay & screen story), Drew Goddard (screenplay), Damon Lindelof (screenplay), J. Michael Straczynski (screen story), Max Brooks (novel)
Cast: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale, Fana Mokoena, David Morse, Matthew Fox, David Andrews.

A United Nations employee races across the globe to find the source of a global pandemic that is ravaging humanity and threatens extinction. 

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World War Z has been a film that gained some notoriety during its pre-production. The film went through numerous script re-writes, extensive and massive re-shoots on top of being pushed for a summer 2013 release from its original December 2012 release. All that said, the film came out to early positive reviews a few weeks ago and mixed reactions from the numerous trailers released for it. I myself didn’t think too highly of World War Z and also went into it without having read the original Max Brooks novel, leaving me going into it with low expectations.

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Low expectations probably helped me enjoy this film more than I thought it would. First of all, I’m not a big fan of zombie films. I primarily I find it hard to differentiate and stand out among all films in that sub-genre with all zombie flicks generally following the same formula. In World War Z we start off following former U.N. investigator Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his family as the world is caught up in the beginning of the pandemic. Chaos ensues and Gerry finds himself enlisted by the U.N. to help track down the source of the pandemic.

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The structure of how World War Z is laid out feels like a culmination of all zombie flicks. The first third follows the story of a family caught in the pandemic at its outbreak in the city to mixed results. There are great moments in this part of the film, but overall it feels rushed. While filled with a ton of great scares and moments of great tension, the film doesn’t allow enough time to show Gerry’s relationship with his family. The lack of development left me not feeling any investment into his sacrifice of leaving his family to search for the source of the pandemic.

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Following the outbreak we get to see the type of zombie flick where humanity has withdrawn itself into walls. It’s this second part of the film where things really picked up for me as Pitt travels to South Korea and Israel, where this film’s trailers primarily advertised scenes from. Here we get to see a completely different zombie film from the first half in the way some nations had prepared for the oncoming pandemic. This portion of the film really distinguishes World War Z from most other zombie flicks and contains some really great action sequences that I wouldn’t expect from director Marc Forster.

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The third act of the film is where the film’s pacing halts to a grinding stop as things slow down incredibly. This portion of the film deals with the search for a cure to the pandemic. While the solution they come up with in this film to the zombie problem is quite interesting, it also made the film feel like it built up all this tension to a rather anti-climactic and rushed conclusion. There’s a great story to be told here and Brad Pitt is great in the role of Gerry Lane, but there just wasn’t enough in this film to humanize him as a character worth rooting for.

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The pacing of the film overall is what holds World War Z from being a truly great film. While this is the first zombie flick to truly show the global reach of such a pandemic, the movie ironically takes the humanity out of such story due to the time constraints of a feature film. It leaves the ending with a hollow feeling of hope and no sense of accomplishment for Gerry returning home to his family. World War Z is flawed in that sense, but is still a worthwhile, tense and exciting film to check out.

GO Rating: 3/5

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[Images via Box Office Mojo]

Paolo Maquiraya

Paolo Maquiraya

Senior Film Manager, Author of Weekend Box Office Estimates (joined 10-2010)

A film lover since the age of four, Paolo brings a younger perspective to his film reviews to both contrast and compliment fellow critic Steven. While a big fan of science fiction and fantasy films Paolo is open to any type of movie as long as it tells a story worth telling.

Favourite movies include the original Star Wars trilogy, anything directed by Hayao Miyazaki and David Fincher (minus Alien 3) and Oldboy.

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