Director: Marc Forster
Starring: Brad Pitt… Errr, I should probably name more people than that but let’s be honest, do I really need to?
Rating: 4 and a half out of 5 zombie-proof (heh heh) walls, the half a wall taken off the rating simply because the third act could either be taken as ending on a whimper or as an engaging, emotional wallop of suspense. Despite the production drama, what we have here is a zombie film in a league of its own.
Just to preface and warn you all: this review is super delayed. I saw World War Z a week and a half ago and never got around to writing a review of it. However, even after this long, I can still recall strongly all of my initial reactions, both the ones I experienced during the film (such as holding my breath at certain points) as well as directly after. So hopefully I can still articulate those opinions.
First of all, my expectations were heavily influenced by a number of sources. I wasn’t into the trailer at all. I thought the zombies were going to be overshadowed by the military (a la Battle Los Angeles’ ineffective aliens versus soldiers). I then read Owen Gleiberman’s review in Entertainment Weekly (link here: http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20687784,00.html )
and my mind changed… then changed back yet again after hearing my manager at Film Forum call some of the scenes abrupt as if the film was at first meant to be longer and then was cut down awkwardly. He also said the second half’s change in tone from epic to intimate seemed silly, with the movie ending on a whimper.
I state all of this first to launch into why I disagree, or rather that (in the same way as with Great Gatsby earlier this summer) any aspects that were seen as flaws I saw as strengths.
For example, I was wrong to be wary about the massive, long/aerial shot, global scale of the zombie takeover, which wasn’t nearly as militaristic as I feared anyway; I found the lack of gore, the lack of close up or intensely tight focus on specific zombies or their attacks for the first half of the film to make the zombies and the film overall all the more terrifying and chaotic as a result. The scene in which the chaos begins, when we are stuck with Brad Pitt’s character Gerry and his family, is relatably tense as we only see and know as much as they do: traffic and confusion, and then in no time at all, zombies (whose fast change time between death and undeath is truly chilling, and thats coming from a girl whose seen her fair share of zombie films)
The rest of the film plays out in the same formmat. Gerry moves from place to place trying to find the source or a cure, and we see some of the scariest zombies I can think of, especially because of their mass/hoard formation and their parasitic, inescapable nature. They’re fast, frenzied, and frenetic, and that being said, the film never does anything just for the sheer spectacle of it. It is suspenseful and paces itself and builds in a deliberate, meticulous way. That being said, I can see why my manager would find the second half silly. The intensity changes form as we go from Korea, to Israel, to one truly scary plane ride, only to scale down to a World Health Organization centered second half of the film that was reminiscent of the end of Walking Dead’s first season. But, this is where we are the most on the edge of our seats I’d argue, and where we come face to face with the zombies only to find that they’re just as creepy individually as they are in packs, and for a film that doesn’t use gore, I applauded the way they used makeup FX and choreographed these zombies. Also, the ending (no spoilers) was to me all the more intriguing because of the somewhat open ended nature of it, and unique in the approach it took to “solving” the zombie apocalypse.
So all in all, please see this movie if you want a zombie movie that is unlike any in the horror genre, but don’t expect that this won’t also have its own ways to scare you.