I ran with a zombie: World War Z (2013).

29 Jul

World War Z posterMuch like its subject matter, World War Z was presumed dead before its release due to a tirade of production problems and technical issues, yet has managed to revive itself and shuffle into movie theatres around the globe. Brought to us by director Marc Forster, this is yet another movie about the seemingly inevitable zombie apocalypse. Question: how does it fare against the likes of Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later?

Answer: not very well. As zombie films go, World War Z is without doubt the tamest, least threatening and certainly one of the most ineffective tales of the world’s end I’ve ever seen. Brad Pitt plays Gerry Lane, a former United Nations ‘investigator’ whose past job is never fully explained. Once the outbreak hits Philadelphia he must fly around the world, from Korea to Wales via Jerusalem among others. Can he (virtually) single-handedly ‘investigate’ and ultimately save civilisation from its impending demise?

These are definitely among the smartest zombies I’ve seen committed to film.  Piling on top of one another to overcome obstacles the same way ants do and patiently staking out walled citadels, at several points they even appear to hold doors for one another. Sprinting like the modern ‘infected’ incarnation of zombies, rather than stumbling about like George Romero’s creations, they bite and move on; they don’t waste time actually eating people, and thus behave like some sort of microbe rather than anything supernatural.

Gerry isn't characterised at all. He loves his family, and that's it.

Gerry isn’t characterised at all. He loves his family, and that’s it.

This brings us on to the subject of gore, or the lack thereof. World War Z features little to no blood and/or guts – people will swing an axe, and a chopping sound will be heard but not seen. Zombies chomp people, they fall over. This is a problem: I’m no gore junkie, but if you’re going to make a film about zombies taking over the world, then minimising the violence not only fails to generate any sort of catharsis whatsoever but also removes a layer of realism. Immersion is the intention, yet is rendered impossible by this obligatory suspension of reality. Not once did I forget that I was sitting in a cinema watching a movie.

Although the film is named after and supposedly based on the Max Brooks (son of Mel) book of the same name, the two mediums really only share the title. A more faithful filmic rendition of the novel would have been far more akin to 2011’s masterful Contagion, except with more zombies and less coughing. Had Forster gone in that direction, we not only would have gotten a more accurate depiction of the book, but also, strangely enough, a potentially more original film.

As it is, World War Z is a by-the-numbers zombie apocalypse movie that makes even less sense than its generic bedfellows usually do. Family-friendly, pat and in absolutely no way challenging or edgy, I was bored out of my tree the entire time. Don’t bother.

Simon says: More like World War Zzzzz…..

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