Friday, July 05, 2013

Film Review: World War Z

World War Z has obvious similarities to zombie flicks such as Zombieland and George Romero’s …Of the Dead series but has mainly been marketed as a disaster film in the vein of The Day After Tomorrow and 2012. World War Z actually falls somewhere in between. It is most similar to other undead/infected thrillers such as I Am Legend and 28 Days Later. While the zombie’s are fierce and terrifying, and there are some truly scary moments, World War Z is too heavy on high pace action and international intrigue to be called a horror movie.

World War Z actually benefits from its identity crisis. The mix of genre elements composes a unique movie going experience that should appeal to a wider audience than just the horror crowd. World War Z is more of a popcorn and soda summer blockbuster than one might expect from the zombie premise.

World War Zis at times legitimately scary and the first third of the film seems to set up what could have been one of the most frightening horror experiences this year. However once the film hits stride, a little over a half-hour in, it suddenly course corrects into a political thriller. Much of the film is comparable to a classic international action film, with continent hopping adventure and memorable, iconic locales from around the globe.

In the film an unknown pathogen has infected large segments of the population and transformed them into mindless, hostile cannibals. The origin of the virus is unknown and the disease has spread all across the world. As societies crumble from China to America, civilization itself is on the verge of collapse. Enter our hero Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), a retired military intelligence officer, who is tasked with travelling the globe in order to discover the origin of the outbreak.

How much you enjoy World War Z will largely depend on how much you like Brad Pitt. This is one of those films in which the lead star is so prevalent, and so singular in focus and effort, that the weight of the entire movie rests almost exclusively on his shoulders. In this case Brad Pitt is up to the challenge and his performance, while only ordinary by his standards, holds the film together while engaging him in a dynamic (action star) that we don’t often see him in.

Through the first two acts World War Z works wonderfully, balancing and transitioning fluidly between its diverse elements. Unfortunately the film loses its legs in the third act and limps across the finish line with clichés and an ending boarding on melodrama. There was some highly publicized production trouble and the effect is evident: after a solid hour and a half, the last thirty minutes feel rushed and slapped together.

In a year crammed with big budget action spectacle, and not short on horror, that World War Z is able to find a niche is an impressive feat. World War Z is at the least a unique and daring creative effort. It would have been easy for the filmmakers to cash in on a more traditional action horror experience utilizing the license and seizing on the current craze for zombies. While it doesn’t always work, and there is some definite potential squandered, World War Z strives for and offers something different.

Grade: C+

Posted By: Terry Pierson, Library Clerk/Page