WRITTEN BY: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard, Damon Lindelof
DIRECTED BY: Marc Forster
STARRING: Brad Pitt, Daniella Kertesz, Mireille Enos
RATING: 3.5 stars
It is quite rare for a film with so many plot holes to be so enjoyable. But that was my reaction to World War Z. The reasons are that the special effects are fantastic, the zombies are terrifying and the hero never resorts to one-liners or ridiculous gimmicks. You will be on the edge of your seat during the whole film. In fact, the suspense, at times, is almost unbearable, and that makes it a lot of fun. Another great aspect of the film is that there is no gore, as generally found in zombie films, so it is appropriate for young teenagers, as long as they can handle the suspense. While hard core fans of zombie films may be a little more sceptical of this film, mainstream action fans and filmgoers will enjoy the ride.
World War Z is based on a 2006 novel by Max Brooks, but does not follow the book very closely at all. When zombies attack the world, former United Nations investigator Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) becomes the last hope of stopping the zombies from spreading their virus. He agrees to help, despite having recently left the UN, because it is the only way to ensure his family is protected from the zombies. Along his quest, Gerry travels the world to learn how other countries are coping, such as North Korea where they have resorted to pulling out people's teeth and Israel where they have built a giant wall to keep zombies out. The climax comes in Wales in a drawn-out, suspenseful scene.
Much has been said about the dramas on set and budget problems for World War Z, and that seems to have lowered many people's expectations. But clearly, everyone should have had more faith in Pitt as a producer in his first blockbuster film, having previously developed smaller films like The Tree of Life and Killing Them Softly, and director Marc Forster who gave us Monster's Ball, Finding Neverland, The Kite Runner and Quantum of Solace. With such good records, we should have known it would all work out for World War Z.
Speaking of Pitt, he is absolutely fantastic in this film. While his character meets a lot of people along the way, no one sticks around for very long because they are either turned into zombies or left behind as he moves on and makes his way around the world looking for a cure. So really, Pitt carries the entire film by himself. It explains why the film needed an A-lister in the lead. Despite his good looks, Pitt is also believable as a regular, smart guy who can kick arse. The supporting cast includes a strong performance from Daniella Kertesz as a young Israeli soldier, as well as an emotive performance from Mireille Enos who plays Gerry's wife.
What makes World War Z so engaging for non-zombie fans is that it actually uses the idea of zombies to tell an underlying, much deeper story. Like Contagion or 28 Days Later, the film explores how people react in the pressurised situation of a deadly epidemic. This is especially depicted in one of the earlier scenes when Gerry and his family are on the run from the zombies taking over their city. The camera jolts and spins around that you don't quite know what is happening some of the time, but it gives that sense of chaos and panic. The scene on a plane - yes, we get zombies on a plane - is also well filmed.
Maybe it is because I had such low expectations, but I was fully immersed in World War Z. I am hoping for a sequel.