World War Z (2013)
Hello you lovely people!
It’s been a long while since Jonny has let me loose on the review pages but since I got the opportunity to watch World War Z before he did I get to offer you my honest opinion of Hollywood’s take on the much loved and often maligned Zombie genre. Now I know that some horror fans have unfairly written off the film ahead of its release due to the fact that there are fast moving running zombies ala 28 days later, and I myself was even a little sceptical of its direct connections to main stream cinema, I mean come on Brad Pitt in a frickin zombie movie?! Fortunately I can confirm that World War Z really isn’t all that bad, in fact both the Missus and I quite enjoyed the almost sold out early Saturday morning matinee showing.
Right off the bat I had better address any connections to Max Brook’s novel of the same name. This film is very loosely based on Max’s work and takes place at the beginning of the virus outbreak. We still have lead character Gerry making his way around a devastated planet but just about everything else is adapted for the big screen. World war Z or ‘Z’ as I shall call it from now on starts with retired UN specialist Brad Pitt and family about to embark on a holiday. Whilst stuck in traffic the virus hits downtown Philadelphia and within a few moments hundreds and then thousands of zombies (yes we are using the Z word!) are attacking the city since the virus transforms its host into a flesh muncher within 12 seconds of incubation. Fortunately our hero is highly skilled at disaster aversion and quickly escapes with the wife and kids in tow. Finding temporary sanctuary in a block of flats Brad, I mean Gerry, gets a call from his old government buddies who insist on his help to fight the zombie plague in exchange for safe haven for his kin on a ship in the middle of the ocean. He must lead a scientist and small band of marines into South Korea to discover a cure for the virus. I’ll admit things sound a bit corny at this point but where the film might lack originality it more than makes up for it with impressive action sequences and awesome special effects thanks to its massive budget. I can honestly say that I have never seen so many zombies on screen at once. The invasion scenes set in Jerusalem are quite breath taking as millions of infected form waves of un-dead that literally flow over the walled city like a tide in the sea. A later scene set on an aircraft that gets overrun mid flight was equally exhilarating and it was almost easy to forgive the film of its short comings had it not spoiled things slightly by keeping all the dials set at 11. The pretty consistent pace means there is little time for any real story development so we see Gerry go from one action set piece to another, albeit on a different continent. It also overdoes the tension, particularly towards the finale which for me led to some quips of disbelief rather than nail biting. I’m not sure the film makers intentionally wanted me to laugh as hero Gerry stopped to neck an energy drink before making his escape through a lab full of ghouls but I couldn’t help myself. Also, it’s worth noting that should a zombie apocalypse happen for real it might be advisable to head for Cardiff as they are seemingly better prepared to handle things. Whilst the rest of the world is engulfed in waves of the un-dead the locals there need only worry about late milk deliveries!
‘Z’ is an enjoyable popcorn Zombie film for the main stream audience. Sure there are things that will no doubt offend horror purists and viewers who like a little more than special FX and noise thrown at them but it certainly entertained me. I urge anybody who has already written it off to give it a go. I also did quite like Brad Pitt in the lead role and I can’t think of many other ‘A’ list celebs that might have been be able to pull it off as well as he did. It won’t win any Oscars but it is nice to see the zombies getting some well earned respect from Hollywood.