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World War Z

2013 | 116 min | PG-13 | 2.39:1

World War Z


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3 user reviews

Movie appeal




Theatrical release date

 21 June, 2013
 21 June, 2013

Country of origin

 United States

Technical aspects

3D (converted)

Box office




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Screenshots from World War Z Blu-ray

World War Z Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, June 20, 2013

Because we all love a good disaster story, much has been made recently about the production challenges that temporarily paralyzed the shooting of “World War Z.” It ran overbudget, suffered through numerous rewrites, and found its third act completely rethought by a second creative team when the original work failed to land the proper punch. The trouble with such compulsive rubbernecking is that “World War Z,” despite some major malfunctions, is no train wreck. In fact, it’s a rather energized horror picture, skillfully using the fantasy concept of a furious zombie outbreak to construct a representation of global pandemic hysteria, with star Brad Pitt wisely tucking in his cape to play a human being facing doomsday, refusing the superhero path.

Without warning or explanation, a zombie outbreak has swallowed major cities around the globe, turning innocents into the undead within seconds. Former U.N. investigator Gerry (Brad Pitt) faces the wrath of the ghouls in Philadelphia, where he’s traveling with wife Karen (Mireille Enos, doing something with very little) and their two young daughters. Surviving the initial wave, Gerry is called into duty, ordered to shadow medical and military personnel as the hunt for patient zero and a possible cure commences. Traveling to South Korea, Israel, and Wales, Gerry is repeatedly overwhelmed by the zombie horde, fighting to save his life while witnessing civilians and soldiers fall in record numbers. With Karen and the kids his focal point, Gerry uses the horrors he’s witnessed to concoct a plan of protection, though with every step he takes toward a victory against the monsters, he faces potential catastrophe.

Loosely adapted from the 2006 novel by Max Brooks, “World War Z” is a film of immense scale. It’s what we expect from our summer event movies, but few features actually manage to achieve it. Following Gerry into a world gone mad, director Marc Forster captures the swell of shocking activity surrounding the zombie attacks, watching them flood into city streets, sprinting into action and munching on victims. In Israel, the undead swarm upward like an ant colony, pushing themselves over the walls of a fortified Jerusalem. Drawn to sound and aggression, the zombie menace is treated with enormity, allowing the material to reach its potential as an apocalyptic vision of panic, with survivors scattering into the wild and onto the sea to regroup. Forster deserves a raspberry for his incessant use of shaky-cam to boost the jolt of surprise, but his ability to step back and observe the nightmare is laudable, gifting “World War Z” curvature other big-budgeted entertainment often fails to deliver.

At the heart of the chaos is a story of Gerry and his efforts to provide parental protection from afar. Pitt underplays the central role, committed to making the observer a human (and one with immaculate Kurt Cobain hair) before a hero, refusing to inject Gerry with cartoon brawn. It’s internalized work, nicely reactive to the snappy zombie blur, with the man credibly crushed by shock over what’s transpiring, yet trained and experienced enough to assist the fight when necessary. “World War Z” benefits from Pitt’s cautious mannerisms and heart-twisting intensity around Gerry’s family, creating a hackneyed but effective emotional through line that keeps the picture from simply showboating with colossal survival sequences, impressing with artifice.

The showdown scenes certainly do impress, watching Gerry navigate pandemonium in Jerusalem and Philadelphia using his wits, while a bravura airplane attack sequence is exceptional, capturing the indefatigable nature of the antagonists and the suffocating panic they trigger once the biting begins. Of course, the violence has been trimmed and somewhat stripped of color to preserve a PG-13 rating (thus retaining mass appeal), and I’m personally of the mindset that zombie cinema should remain R-rated to explore the true price of self-preservation. Intensity remains intact, but the gruesome details are missing, a few stingers rather haphazardly lopped off to appease the MPAA. In the win column, the zombie stars display appealing make-up work and CGI design elements, making them a formidable foe with curious attack instincts that keep the main characters on their toes.

The famously reworked third act (by Damon Lindelof and Drew Goddard, who also tinkered with the rest of the movie) is noticeable, if only because the shaky-cam is shut off like a leaky faucet, permitting the audience a chance to study the frame instead of being assaulted by it. “World War Z” downsizes from globally aware to a single government lab location for the grand finale, though the transition is seamless -- the newfound stillness and concentration on hallway gamesmanship between Gerry and the zombies is actually quite refreshing, delivering a conclusion that’s fulfilling without overheating the picture.

Disappointment arrives with the set-up for another chapter in the battle to save humanity, which seems like a long shot at this point, leaving the open ending lofty instead of encouraging. It would be swell to see “World War Z” carry on in future sequels, especially when its atmosphere of global collapse (a ‘roided up “Contagion”) is now set-up for business, ready to be exhaustively explored, hopefully by a filmmaker who doesn’t equate suspense with eye-quaking disorientation.

Starring: Brad Pitt, Matthew Fox, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, David Morse, David Andrews
Director: Marc Forster

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World War Z, Forum Discussions

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World War Z 844 Sep 02, 2013
World War Z Sequel 27 Dec 11, 2013

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