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World War Z Review

Brad Pitt’s horror-thriller misses epic potential

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Following what has been infamously documented as one of the most difficult and arduous film productions (including the seizure of an alleged “weapons cache” by the Hungarian government) since Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, one can’t be too hard on director Marc Forster’s (Quantum of Solace, The Kite Runner) newest film, World War Z.   While that statement doesn’t necessarily warrant a free pass, it’s safe to say that World War Z is an entertaining film despite the fact that the potential for a more memorable experience at the movies could have been had by audiences.  To wit, an R-rating really could have taken this film to a level beyond pandering to the teenage demographic. 

I don’t imagine audiences will get the full scope of the film because the sheer scale of violence brought on by the zombie apocalypse is never seen for more than two consecutive seconds due to the camera cutting away so as not to expose the crowd to an intimate knowledge of one-on-one zombie violence (the bloody, gritty R route).  Forster instead pans out to show large amounts of CGI zombies to convey that are seemingly insurmountable quantities of the undead.  In essence, he’s trying to terrify the audience that there are so many zombies that humanity can’t survive (the alluding, hinting PG-13 route).  I also didn’t bother to catch the 3D format of the film — I can’t believe that a post-conversion to an over-budgeted, past-scheduled, re-scripted film has any merit.  The 2D format is still entertaining if not for running too long due to unnecessary and predictable tension-heightening purposes.  Unfortunately, the film never reaches the boldness to explain the source/ reason for the zombie apocalypse save for a bland, blanket statement about Mother Nature.

Brad Pitt serves as star/ producer for the film.  I respect actors and actresses that have the confidence in their ability to invest in a film in which they plan to star.  His performance is real and grounded for a film about the zombie apocalypse.  He plays equal part devoted family man and zombie solution-finder well.  Pitt’s character, Gerry Lane, lives in Philadelphia with his wife and two girls.  When the zombie apocalypse breaks out, his old co-workers from the United Nations call him in to assist in finding a solution to the zombie outbreak.  James Badge Dale (Iron Man 3, Flight) shows up as a soldier stationed overseas and looks like a spitting image of Brad Pitt from fifteen years ago.

Forster’s directing performance proves that he was up to the job.  The pacing and plot-structure of World War Z is incredibly similar to Forster’s 2008 James Bond film, Quantum of Solace. QoS took 007 from Italy to England to the Caribbean to Austria to South America.  World War Z covers several cities on the Eastern Seaboard, South Korea, Jerusalem, Wales and Nova Scotia.  Pitt’s lane isn’t unlike 007 either: he’s confident, seasoned and knowledgeable of the world.  Unfortunately, the film drags on in the throes of the third act as the predictable ending comes to a head ever-so-slowly.

Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of WWZ is the score — performed by Brit rockers MUSE and written by MUSE front man Matt Bellamy.  Bellamy’s score is equal parts horror throwback (a rhythm similar to Lalo Schifrin’s The Amityville Horror score) and new-age horror (a beat influenced by John Murphy’s 28 Days Later score, more specifically “In the House…In a Heartbeat” track).

The obvious debate with this film is the complete separation from the source material, World War Z by Max Brooks (son of Hollywood comedy legend Mel Brooks and Academy Award winner Anne Bancroft).  Max Brooks’ book follows the traditional “rules” regarding zombie lore while the zombies in Forster’s film are reminiscent of those suffering from the “rage virus” in Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later.  A zombie purist may not enjoy WWZ, but a viewer willing to play should enjoy a film with a pace so quick that one hardly has any time to feel the “horror” aspect as thrills dominate the plot. 

Keywords: World War Z movie review, World War Z film review, Brad Pitt
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