World War Z [Blu-Ray]

Marc Forster

BY Kevin ScottPublished Oct 4, 2013

World War Z is the first zombie travelogue, attempting to show the full effects of what an undead plague would look like across the globe. It may work as sheer spectacle, but all of the globetrotting lacks narrative drive, making for a clumsy adaptation of the unique oral history angle of Max Brooks's novel. Gerry (Brad Pitt), a former UN investigator, and wife Karin (Mireille Enos) are stuck in Philadelphia traffic with their two daughters, just like any other morning, when pandemonium begins to reign in the streets. It's revealed as the usual sort of mysterious foreign virus that turns anyone bitten into the more modern brand of extremely fast-moving zombie. Calling in a favour, Gerry and his family are rescued via helicopter by old UN contact Thierry (Fana Mokoena). Leaving his wife and kids safely on an aircraft carrier in the Atlantic, Gerry begrudgingly agrees to help track down the origins of the virus, with stops along the way in South Korea and Jerusalem. At the former location, he finds a group of soldiers, who provide little information but point him in another direction and help battle zombies in a sequence so severely murky that it's difficult, at times, to tell what is even happening. Israel is something of a fortified haven, at least until some group singing attracts a giant swarm of zombies and they manage to crest the wall, clamouring overtop each other. Since this scene is the most discussed of the film, it's worth noting that a behind-the-scenes documentary reveals how one particular shot of the zombies' ascent took over a year to complete. It's interesting, then, how the film's final act inside a World Health Organization complex in Wales, where Gerry tests his potentially breakthrough theory about how the zombies operate, is a reminder that a simple, intimate approach can often be more effective in this genre. Hearing all the complicated logistical details that went into the production, including shutting down the center of Glasgow for more than two weeks to have it double as Philadelphia, it's hard not to admire the achievements in presenting a realistic response to a global disaster. The presence of an evolutionary biologist in the documentaries points to taking the undead a little too seriously though, with his constant insistence of how these zombies are based on actual biology suggesting that he either believes they actually exist or at least wants them to really badly.
(Paramount Pictures)

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