Like everyone else this year, I’ve been waiting anxiously to see World War Z, the mega-expensive zombie apocalypse film that changes the genre from horror to a horror/thriller with attitude. And attitude that felt like it was going to come screeching off the screen and chew on you until you caught the desease.
I will hold my hand up and plead guilty as charged if you ask if I like zombie films. George A. Romero never envisioned zombies like these and as much as I love his films, George’s zombie shuffle doesn’t hold a patch to the high-octane adrenalised munching machines of WWZ.
I have not read the novels by Max Brooks so I went into the film with no pre-set expectations and I think that helped me to stay impartial about the events that were taking place to the characters on-screen. I did not have the problem of comparing the literary version of the story versus the film version.
Brad Pitt as the “retired” United Nations trouble shooter rocks his part off the screen and he didn’t need the 3D film medium to make that happen. Pitt has made a career out of challenging himself and the fact that he had the balls to do a $250 million zombie apocalypse movie shows just how far he is prepared to go.
The cinematography in the film was rich and the textures so deep it felt like a cinematic version of plush carpet. The film’s CG was spotless and considering how much of the zombies and the setting were computer generated, it was also damned impressive.
With the films opening credits showing images of ants swarming over areas of food and killing larger prey, its clear that the film makers fashioned their “undead” creatures on ants. The swarming zombies were effectively scary and I spent the entire film so tense that I got a “charlie-horse” in my right leg.
The attitude of all the main characters in World War Z was one of grim haste. The people who filled this apocalyptic world were desperate to find out what was causing the world threatening “pandemic” and all the “good guys” found it hard to stay ahead of the lightening fast zombies.
The story moved at an almost breakneck speed and the tension never let up. There were no “lagging” bits or slow moments to break up the relentless action and the overall impending feeling of threat that pervaded every frame.
The film didn’t have any predictable moments either. In one scene, I had pretty much second guessed what was going to happen only to be very surprised by the scene’s outcome.
But don’t go to the film expecting “realism.” If you can’t suspend your disbelief for the length of the film, don’t bother. But if you like zombie apocalypses and love sitting on the edge of your seat for an entire movie, this film is for you.
While the film’s producer and star was the only ‘A’ lister in World War Z, Pitt made sure that he surrounded himself with actors who could damn well act and the film felt as smooth as silk in the character interactions. There is realism, just not in the overall plot or story.
All the characters you are introduced to feel real and the little scenes between Pitt and his screen family work brilliantly. The children who play his kids are great little actors; Sterling Jerins and Abigail Hargrove effortless portray children who “act like children” and not some Hollywood ideal of how kids react or behave.
Hargrove is in her first feature film and Jerins is an old pro who has been working professionally since 2011. Mireille Enos as Pitt’s wife in the film is another of those actors who has a long pedigree and seems to live her parts.
It was quite nice to see David Morse in a small cameo role as the CIA man in Korea. While Morse isn’t an ‘A’ lister, he is one of the best character actors in the world. I would have loved to have seen a bit more of him in the film.
Overall, this is a real five star film that packs a hard and toothy bite. This is definitely a film to see in the cinema with 3D glasses nervously placed on your nose. World War Z is a zombie apocalypse with attitude. The kind that will chase you down and bite you before you can even think of running. Don’t miss it.
By Michael Smith