Movie Review: World War Z (2013) (2D)
I’m just going to come out and say it: World War Z is possibly the best zombie movie I’ve ever seen.
To be fair, I can’t recall many worthy zombie movies off the top of my head. I haven’t seen the George Romero’s 1978 Dawn of the Dead, widely regarded as the GOAT. 28 Days Later was very good. Shaun of the Dead is very funny. I Am Legend had its moments. Resident Evil is a guilty pleasure. REC is terrifying. But as of now, I’d still rank World War Z on top.
Why? Well for starters, while it is one of the most intense cinematic experiences I’ve had with a “zombie film”, World War Z doesn’t feel like your conventional zombie flick. Yes, there are loads of zombies, carnage and people fighting for survival, but the mood of it feels…different. Perhaps because it is less camp, the tone feels more like a plague film, say like Outbreak, the 1995 Dustin Hoffman movie, or the more recent Contagion, made in 2011. Throughout the 116-minute running time I never got the sense that I had “seen it all before” and never felt like I knew where the story was heading.
There are also heavier political elements in World War Z than typical zombie movies, though I don’t want to say much more than that because of potential spoilers.
The film centers on Brad Pitt, who plays Gerry Lane, a former United Nations employee, and his family (wife played by Mireille Enos, whom I am unfamiliar with), as the zombies start to take over the world. Using his connections, Lane is able to get to safety, but his skills are needed to help find out the cause of the outbreak so scientists can develop a cure or vaccine. Lane travels to several locations around the world in search of an answer, battling hoards of zombies and scraping through extremely close calls along the way. A few of the particularly pivotal scenes are still vividly floating around in my mind, a sign that director Marc Foster (Monster’s Ball, Quantum of Solace, The Kite Runner) really got them right. They were intense without overdoing the whole crazy-mutilated-zombies-jump-out-of-nowhere routine we’re so accustomed to seeing in these types of movies.
The second half of World War Z is not quite as good as the first half, and unfortunately the ending, after a stellar finale, was quite disappointing. The special effects were better than the trailer suggested (I initially thought they looked terrible) but some of the scenes with masses of zombies still looked a little too CGI. But these are my only complaints.
I would compare World War Z to my favourite film from a couple of years ago, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Sure, there are lots of flaws and holes, but it’s one of those rare films that kept me engrossed from start to finish, and at one stage during the movie made me want to say out loud — “this movie is freaking awesome!” It’s intense, exciting, entertaining and clever without trying to be too clever for what is, after all, still a zombie movie. I can’t wait for the planned sequel(s).
4.5 stars out of 5!
PS: I have not read the 2006 horror novel of the same name by Max Brooks upon which the film is based. Apparently it is completely different.