Release Date: July 21st, 2013
Director: Marc Forster
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Film Pulse Score: 6.5/10
Despite being plagued with production problems, script issues, and shooting delays, the world was finally able to witness Marc Forster’s World War Z this weekend. While this film had seemingly everything going against it, the end result was a surprisingly entertaining ride, though there were certainly some bumps along the way.
Based on the novel by Max Brooks, though it bares little resemblance, the film stars Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane, a former UN operative who is tasked with finding the cause, and hopefully stopping, the zombie apocalypse.
The film starts strong with Gerry and his family witnessing first-hand the initial spread of the virus in Philadelphia. After a few short moments of character introductions, the film immediately begins firing on all cylinders, and gives us very little reprieve till the third act.
As most have seen in the ridiculous amount of marketing done for this movie, the zombies are the fast variety, flowing like a river through cities, devouring nearly everything in their path. This concept didn’t really work in the trailers, however it proved to be quite effective in the film itself. The action was relentless, as was the suspense. These zombies feel like the ones from 28 Days Later on cocaine. This creates an additional layer of horror to the film, which, in turn, ramps up the tension even more.
The relationship between Pitt’s character and his wife, played by Mireille Enos, and children, felt natural and real. If this familial element was haphazardly thrown in, or didn’t feel believable, the film would probably implode into itself. Enos, who is familiar with playing strong roles like her character in The Killing, does a great job at conveying the concerned, but supportive wife and mother. She’s smart and she doesn’t cave under pressure.
The main plotline of World War Z does have an uneven feel to it though. Considering much of the latter portion of the film was rescripted, reshot, and recut, this is understandable and it doesn’t entirely pull one out of the movie, but it still feels a bit off. While two thirds of the film goes full throttle, the final act slows it down significantly, almost to the point of feeling like a different movie. This shift in tone and pace does feel jarring, however it actually works for the most part.
There are certain plot threads that feel unanswered and are kind of left dangling, and there is some noticeable ADR work to retool some of the locations. These feel like minor quibbles though, and don’t detract from the film too much.
Even with the market being entirely too saturated with apocalypse and zombie movies, World War Z proves that there’s always still room for one more, as long as it’s entertaining and at least tries to bring something new to the table. While the story has it’s flaws, this is still worth checking out and should sit proudly aside some of the bigger summer blockbusters this year.
I forgot to mention the fact that the PG-13 rating seemed forced in this as well. The lack of blood and overuse of off-frame violence seemed like it was slightly wearing the rating on its sleeve. I don’t necessarily think this was anything more than a nit pick, but I think it would have been more effective if the horrors of the zombie apocalypse were shown in frame.