Review: World War Z!

21st June 2013

I should start by saying I do not like fast zombies, I think they miss the point of zombies that they are just a mirror for our own mortality, they are a metaphor for the inevitability of our own demise and as such death doesn’t need to run shrieking down the street after you, it shambles after you patient and implacable. Making them speed freaks is like removing the savagery from a werewolf or making vampires fawning, lovesick, sparkling teenagers… Okay, bad example, but still.

World War Z is based upon the Max Brooks novel of the same name, I have been a long-time fan of Max Brooks’ writing and I would recommend anyone to pick up a copy. Now while I knew that they had changed quite a few elements of the book, but apparently stayed loyal to its spirit and I was actually quite hopeful to see this movie.

Once I got past my seething hatred of fast zombies I actually quite enjoyed this movie as this is possibly the first zombie movie that has had scope and grandeur. This is not a movie showing the burnt out, abandoned remnants of civilization being picked over by a plucky band of survivors.

In World War Z we see the fall: there is a certain terror in watching New York tearing itself to pieces we can feel the terror of a city in its death throes. Of course this fast paced, carnage filled action is something you come to expect from director Marc Forster who gave us the darker, grittier James Bond movie Quantum of Solace.

After this initial burst of adrenaline the pace is slowed down slightly and unfortunately in this period, that should have been reserved for character development, there is a big pit of nothing. This is one of the movies major weaknesses, that none of the characters are truly memorable individuals. Even Brad Pitts’ character (whose name, IMDB reliably informs me, is Gerry Lane as I could not remember it at all) whose sole character trait appears to be a desire not to leave his family and to be extraordinarily bad at his job.

But even this is a minor problem as we whip from a comparatively quiet moment to what is arguably the movies best moments (which to avoid spoilers I will call ‘Gerry Lane’s Fun Time Trip to Israel’). And it is here we see the rampaging horde at its finest, not as a crowd of shambling individuals but as a wave of death threatening to engulf us all and sweeping everything before it.

After this point the movie never quite gets up to speed again, the movie tries to jarringly shift from all out action to tense, psychological horror but this technique only works with characters we care about not the cardboard cut-out standees we get who exist solely to be zombie bait.

In summary this is a highly enjoyable if flawed film, the plot is full of holes and it will never be considered a genre classic and some of the action scenes relied too heavily on CGI which takes you out of the action. But for all of these faults it is still a fine piece of action movie, summer blockbuster fluff.

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