WORLD WAR Z
Directed by Marc Forster
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, David Morse, Daniella Kertesz
Set to become Brad Pitt's biggest opening ever, World War Z is an intense and often delivering entry into the zombie genre. Based (barely) on Max Brooks' bestselling book of the same name, the film has plenty of jumps and new zombie tendencies to keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. Unfortunately, with a PG-13 rating, the film fails to completely compel with its lack of gore and brains.
The film opens with a familiar montage of news footage and announcements of the world's ailments. These are images and sounds we're so used to in the pre-apocalyptic society we live in. The set up is simple. Pitt plays a former U.N. employee Gerry Lane, who has since become a family man. His beautiful wife Karin (TV's The Killing's Mireille Enos) and his two daughters, Rachel and Constance (Abigail Hargrove and Sterling Jerins, respectively), make up the perfect family. Despite overhearing news reports of marshal law being enacted in different parts of the world, there's no reason for concern. The family heads to downtown Philadelphia and a seemingly joyous day is completely interrupted. You've seen the scene play out a hundred times in past zombie classics, but director Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace, Finding Neverland) gives us something we haven't quite seen before. While the zombies in 2004's remake of Dawn of the Dead can run and the rage-infected people in 28 Days Later have no qualms about chasing you, the undead in World War Z run fast, leap, and go to any length to get a human. I won't give away everything, but I found these zombies to be the most terrifying I've seen in a while. There's no doubt that this epidemic is traveling quicker than anyone can count.
Because of Lane's swell work in the past, the government tips him and risks a lot to get his family to safety aboard an aircraft carrier somewhere in the Atlantic. The deal is simple: Gerry helps the U.N., his family stays aboard. This enacts the final two chapters of mayhem that goes back and forth between quiet, unnerving moments and all out zombie feasts. Plane crashes. Teeth clenching moments. Gross looking zombies. It's all there. But, where's the blood?
Pitt produced the film and called it a "passion project" while it was in production. It's nothing new to point out the many problems the film had to cross before even making it in cinemas this weekend. The majority of the picture was shot back in 2011, but extensive rewrites, including an all new ending, meant reshoots weren't completed until the end of last year. Never a good sign for a film, especially one that's budget skyrocketed to almost $200 million after tax cuts. That's a lot of movie right there.
Many are citing the unnecessary amount of money as far as the film's effects go, but I beg to differ. One of the standard expectations of a zombie flick is the gory ways in which their heads are impaled or the horrific sights of humans becoming lunch and/or dinner. Possibly due to the fact that zombification may be possible, our interest in the monsters have propelled them to popularity that isn't going to go away any time soon. AMC's The Walking Dead is one of the most-watched television shows out right now. While that show's effect are often violent (in the best way possible) and disgusting, World War Z's effect take a different approach. There's plenty to be frightened of, but the sights of the attacks isn't important. What's more important is the thrill of the chase. When the zombies topple over each other to breach the wall around Jerusalem, my brain couldn't take it anymore (no pun intended), imagining what I'd do in that circumstance.
The movie wraps up pretty nicely. The studio did a great job of leaving as its own entity, but also making room for a possible sequel, depending on the numbers at the end of the weekend. Pitt and co. are great and plenty effective. Newcomer Daniella Kertesz is a standout as an Israeli soldier.
Overall, World War Z delivers on every aspect it promises. It works as a smart summer blockbuster, with plenty of twists and turns to keep you excited. It also doesn't feel cheap. My money was money well spent.
Runtime: 116 minutes