Reel Review | World War Z

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Let’s get this out of the way…”World War Z,” the film, bears little resemblance to the book by Max Brooks. And to be honest, that isn’t a bad thing. Being a fan of the book, I never thought it was a true candidate for a big screen adaptation. It simply was constructed in a way that wouldn’t lend itself to film. What we do get with the big screen version is a big budget horror movie that is tense, exciting and a pretty damn good thrill ride. At the screening I saw, the audience literally gasped for breath after a few set pieces! The film plays out like a mystery as United Nations’ employee Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) seeks to find the cause for a zombie pandemic that is crippling the world. It literally hits the ground running  and hardly lets up through its two hour running time. There is a little side story about Gerry and his family, which supplies a human touch to the devastation, but this is truly about the downfall of society. One thing that I enjoyed about the film was that it started in an epic manner showing cities being overrun by the infected, and then, as the film progressed it scaled down to a much smaller level. It was refreshing to watch a film that didn’t feel the need to end on the biggest bang.  Apart from the lack of gore, there truly is something for everyone when it comes to the intensity of the storyline. Also, the film is an intelligent thriller and didn’t feel the need to dumb itself down for summer movie audiences. There really isn’t much that can be said for the acting except that it is up to par. Pitt’s charm shines through on screen, but the part doesn’t have a lot of depth because he is essentially on the go, seeking out the cause of the outbreak or running for his life from the massive swarm of the infected. Rating: 21 / 25

When it comes to the visuals, I’m a little torn. As he showed with “Quantum of Solace,” director Marc Forster isn’t the greatest when it comes to shooting the close-up action scenes. His frame can be rather confusing; the edits and camera movements are so quick your brain has barely enough time to register them. That being said, the chaotic nature of these scenes work because it shows not only the aggressive nature of the infected, but also highlights the turmoil the human survivors must endure just to remain alive.  The viewer may not be able to visually understand every shot, but the plight of the characters is definitely understandable. Forster does a much better job when he pulls the camera out to show the larger scale of the pandemic. Some of these scenes leave a lasting impression: one in particular shows the infected climbing one another to get over a massive wall. It’s such a cool yet disturbing image. The CG nature of the swarm of undead isn’t as bad as you might think. I’m sure if you paused the film to analyze it you would notice how non-realistic they are, but with the action moving so fast it really doesn’t matter. The 3D was a mixed bag as well. There are definitely shots where Forster had the bump up to 3D in mind as he would place objects in the foreground to create the extra sense of depth or when he allowed the film to slow down just a tad, but with all the fast action happening in the movie the 3D almost comes across as superfluous. Rating: 20 / 25

As a big fan of composer Marco Beltrami‘s work I may be a bit biased, but I really enjoyed what he did with the film’s score. It has a epic feel to it and at the same time also comes across as moody and atmospheric. When used, the rhythmic and percussive nature of the score really ratcheted up the tension of several set pieces. On top of that, he was able to create a haunting yet memorable theme which puts dramatic touch to all endless tension that the film delivers.  The sound is hit or miss though. It works well when film slows down and Forster intensifies the suspense by accentuating the noises the infected make, but it seems to be at odds with the music when it comes to the bigger set pieces. Rating: 20 / 25

Usually when you hear that a film has the production problems that “World War Z” experienced — ranging from re-shoots to a completely rewritten ending — you come to expect the end results to be rubbish. World War Z breaks that trend and kept me riveted to the screen the entire time. Don’t get me wrong, there really isn’t much when it comes to character development and the finer nuances that make for a great story are missing, but for a big budget horror film showing the end of civilization the film truly delivers. Rating: 21 / 25

Overall Rating: 82 / 100


(If you’ve seen the film, what are your thoughts and ratings?)

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Dave Ziemer has been reviewing movies for over ten years. He is the founder and was the Program Director of SiriusXM Radio's Cinemagic channel.

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