World War Z


by Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

It feels like, over the last decade, zombies have become the “go to” horror bad guy, with vampires a distant second (and yes, that means the sparkly vampires also). With the huge success that is The Walking Dead, and films like 28 Days Later, Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead, and the Resident Evil saga, it’s a no brainer that producers will keep going back to the zombie well until it is dried up. The latest entrance into the zombie genre is Marc Forster’s World War Z. Based on a book by Max Brook, the zombies are not the slow walkers found elsewhere, which adds to the terror and suspense as we view from the safety of the theater.

The film begins in Philadelphia with retired military investigator, Gerry (Brad Pitt) having a morning with his wife and two daughters. On a morning drive into town is when the zombie invasion hits Philadelphia and Gerry must do what is necessary to get his family to safety. Calling a longtime friend, Gerry is able to get his family out safely but at a price: he’s now obligated to help the military determine how to fight this invasion. The plan: go with an epidemiologist and SEAL team to the reported location of the “first” incident, or, in other words, patient zero. So it’s a race against time for Gerry and the team to find patient zero, and possibly a cure, before there isn’t any civilization left.

The first problem with World War Z came in 2012 prior to the film’s initial release. After advanced screenings found audiences utterly disliking the third act of the film, the producers decided to rewrite and reshoot the entire third act, which pushed the film’s release to summer of 2013. Now the ending, purportedly, is much better but still leaves something to be desired. The next problem with the film is the PG-13 rating. With this rating, they opened it up to a wider, immediate, target audience, but at what price? Well much of the gore is all off-screen, or is cut away before the audience witnesses anything. They also use much shakier, hand-held shots and odd camera angles to make viewing what is happening that much harder. In the end, it takes some of what a horror, suspenseful, zombie film should be.

At its best, World War Z ratchets up the intensity and suspense, creating seat-gripping moments where we are brought to the forefront with our characters in life and death situations. Two particular scenes come to mind, one at an airport and one within a medical facility, but I won’t give anything away. In terms of the acting, the action primarily follows Brad Pitt, and he plays the role of an everyday hero well enough. You are not getting Rambo or Jason Bourne here. He’s able to use a gun but he’s not going to shoot the wings off of a fly or save the world with his fighting prowess. Pitt is also not asked to stretch his acting talents in this role, but it is a zombie film and, let’s be honest… you don’t necessarily go to a film of this type hoping to see Daniel Day Lewis-quality acting.

World War Z, for being a big summer film, still left me longing to find that one great blockbuster of the season. While it provides great action sequences and great suspense, the flaws keep it from being up there with summer greats. And while Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness and Man of Steel have all been fun, none of them have hit it out of the park. But there are still plenty of summer films to come, and hopefully, we’ll have something truly fantastic. But until then, World War Z is a nice diversion for a hot summer day, albeit not the best.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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