World War Z * * * *

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Director: Marc Forster.
Screenplay: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard, Damon Lindelof.
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale, Peter Capaldi, Matthew Fox, David Morse, Ludi Boeken, Fana Mokoena, Elyes Gabel, Pierfrancesco Favino, Ruth Negga, Moritz Bleibtreu, Abigail Hargrove, John Gordon Sinclair.

In making it to the screen, World War Z wasn’t without it’s problems; firstly, there were complaints of it’s very loose take on Max Brooks’ novel, then it’s violence was toned down to achieve a PG-13 certificate; a script rewrite happened half way through production; cinematographer Robert Richardson left to work on “Django Unchained” and the likes of Ed Harris and Bryan Cranston dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. As all these problems piled up, the expectation was that the film would be an absolute disaster. Well, quite simply, it’s not. Despite it’s problems, it’s actually quite a tense and impressively handled thriller.

Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is a former UN worker, happily spending some time at home with his family, until the sudden outbreak of a zombie plague takes over his home city. They are forced to flee and Gerry manages to get his family to safety but news breaks that the whole world is suffering the same outbreak, leaving Gerry to get back in the field and use his experience to search for a cure.

After a brief introduction to our protagonist, Forster doesn’t waste time in getting down to business. Within minutes we are thrust into an absolutely exhilarating opening sequence of the rampaging undead overtaking Philadelphia (actually shot in Glasgow, where I witnessed them filming) and it’s from here that you realise that there’s plenty of potential in this summer blockbuster. It doesn’t matter that there’s a lack of blood or gore because the suspense is handled so competently and effectively that you’re still on the edge of your seat. In fact, it’s the perfect example that less can be more sometimes. What’s most impressive, though, is the epic scale in which it’s delivered. There are several intense action set-pieces where hordes of zombies leap from rooftops, clamber over walls and rampage through an aircraft mid-flight. As an action movie, it certainly delivers the goods and also finds the time to incorporate geopolitics as the epidemic goes world wide. Anchoring all this mayhem is a solidly understated, central performance from Pitt. Having produced this movie – throughout it’s spiralling budget – his commitment to make it work comes across in his performance. He’s entirely believable and identifiable as a family man desperate to survive his chaotic surroundings. Nobody else really gets a look in, including a severely downsized role for Matthew Fox and a brief cameo from, the always reliable, David Morse. Ultimately, the film rests on Pitt’s shoulders, though, and he handles it with aplomb. So much so, that the lack of blood splattering and zombie flesh eating takes a back seat to the character driven drama.
Due to it’s production difficulties, plans for a sequel were shelved. However, having now become a box-office summer smash, the sequel has been given the go-ahead. I, for one, wholeheartedly welcome it.

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Against the odds, this manages to be a satisfyingly tense addition to the zombie sub-genre. It doesn’t go for the jugular in a gratuitous manner, instead it works on your nerves and focuses on telling a relatable story. Die hard horror fans may want more from it, but it delivered just the right amount of thrills for me.

Mark Walker

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47 Responses to “World War Z * * * *”

  1. I am so glad you liked this Mark! As of right now, it’s in the top 5 of the year for me. Of everyone, I was the most worried, since the book is one of my favorite of all time. While the film does nothing similar to the book, it’s incredibly tense (like you mention) and very effective. It’s a solid globe trotting zombie race and at times, very, very smart.

    My review- http://cinekatz.com/pick-six-2-the-pros-and-cons-of-world-war-z/

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    • Nice One, Nick. Yeah, from what I’ve seen it just might make my top five as well. In terms of entertainment, it’s absolutely superb. Yes, it did have flaws but it was an intelligent and well constructed thriller over all. I had a lot of fun with this one.

      I’ll swing by on your link. Cheers, man!

      Like

  2. I cannot wait to see this. Just need more damn time! Awesome review!

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  3. Nice review. I skipped this out in theaters because I thought it’d be a train wreck, but I think I’ll catch it on DVD now.

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  4. SO glad you enjoyed this flick. Man I have to say I loved it. Like mini I had grown concerned but it really excited me from start to finish. Great points about Pitts performance too. I saw it twice in the theater and can’t wait to see it again. What a surprise.

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    • Really enjoyed it, man. I did have concerns beforehand but within minutes of it starting, I knew I was going to like it. That opening sequence is actually my home town of Glasgow. They changed it all to look more American. It was bizarre walking around and seeing all the different signs and traffic lights and such.

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  5. So glad you liked this film mate! Great fun to watch while you think you’re going to be shafted by one of those larger-than-life zombies. Especially liked the zombie at the end with the hyper-active jaw!

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    • That’s just it, man. I thought it was going to be a mindless mess of a film but it was absolutely gripping. Brilliant to see George Square at the beginning, eh?

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      • Yeah man, it just was never going to be “Philadelphia” to a Glaswegian audience. The cinema erupted in laughter at that helicopter shot! But I completely agree with you with the anticipation for the sequel. The standard’s been set unexpectedly above average!

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      • Haha! That’s what I was like when I seen it. It’s funny how they can manage to pass things off in movies, but like you say, every Glaswegian knew fine well where they were at.

        Totally agree again, man. They have set the bar high and I look forward to it.

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  6. I gave it the same rating, Mark. I was surprised how much I enjoyed this.

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    • I was surprised too, Michael. I always liked the idea of it but due to it’s production problems, I lost faith. It still managed to hold it together, though. One of the most enjoyable films I’ve seen all year.

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  7. Great work Mark. There’s enough here to make we want to see a sequel made. It’s a shame though as it felt like a missed opportunity to produce the last word on the zombie genre.

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    • Thanks Mark. It certainly did have a few flaws but I was able to overcome them and just let the thing wash over me. I’ve seen better films this year but none as easily enjoyable.

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  8. I liked it, especially the beginning. The final act felt a little bit “small”, didn’t fit together with the theme imo. I’m greatful towards the movie because it was good enough to inspire me to read the book . And that was absolutely excellent. I’m just a litle baffled that they basically had nothing in common apart from the appearnce of zombies and the title.
    It will be interesting to see if they get to use something from the book in the sequel or if they’ll stick to this hero-saves-his-family stick that really wasn’t there at all.

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    • Glad to hear Jessica. I enjoyed the beginning very much. It also had a personal interest as I was also spotting parts of Glasgow. I didn’t mind the ending so much as I thought it was wise not to try and compete with some of the bigger scenes in the early half of the film. Overall I was quite impressed.
      I haven’t read the book but I do remember Max Brooks saying that the title was the only thing they had in common. Seems a bit insulting to the writer not use his material but, like you say, maybe we’ll get more of that in sequel.

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  9. Great review as always Mark. Though I’m not into the zombie genre nor Brad Pitt, I’m actually looking forward to seeing this. I quite like Forster’s previous film Machine Gun Preacher (as did you, right?) and this one sounds like it has something deeper than just blood and gore of the apocalypse. The fact that some of the filming took place in Glasgow is icing on the cake, too! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    • Thanks Ruth. Yeah, I think you might still take something from this. There’s more focus on the drama and suspense than anything else. What zombies scenes you do get have very little blood or gore and are thoroughly exciting action set-pieces.

      I did like Machine Gun Preacher and would say that this is even better than that. It does help that Glasgow makes an appearance as well ๐Ÿ˜‰ I went down to see them filming a couple of years ago and even consider applying to become a zombie extra. I just didn’t have the time that they wanted.

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      • Ooooh you could’ve been a zombie extra? Bummer you didn’t have the time, that would’ve been cool! That’s good that it’s better than MGP, though I wish that one was seen by more people as it’s got an inspiring message ๐Ÿ˜ฆ In any case, can’t wait to rent this!

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      • Yeah, they wanted a full 3 week commitment but I had to work as well. There’s no way I could have squeezed it in.

        I wish more would see MGP as well. I thought it was very underrated and marketed terribly. With that, and the productions problems of this film, it would seem that Forster doesn’t get much luck. This did make an absolute fortune, though.

        Hope you catch it soon. Would love to hear how went for you.

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  10. Nice review, Mark. I don’t think I liked it as much as you did, however, it wasn’t nearly the trainwreck that I was expecting it to be. Decent flick.

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    • Cheers Chris. It seems to have surprised a lot of people. I did definitely find flaws but it they didn’t ruin my overall enjoyment.

      Ps. Sorry for my lack of activity on your blog but my phone isn’t allowing me to operate outside of wordpress for the moment. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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  11. Good review Mark. It was a fun movie, however, it felt like a total missed-opportunity if you think about it in the long run. However, wasn’t as bad as I originally imagined it as being, which is good enough for me.

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  12. I was disappointed when I heard they were aiming for the pg-13 market, but read lots of positive things which boosts my excitement. I do love Brad Pitt, but no idea why he’d be wit the ginger woman from The Killing……

    Great write up as always #1 ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Thank you sir! I wasn’t keen on a pg-13 zombie flick either, but in all honesty, it still works. Pitt holds it all together and it becomes a great little action/thriller with plenty of suspense.

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  13. I never got around to seeing this at the cinema but I do still want to check it out. Some people have hated it but a 4 from your good self is enough to convince me to see it!

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    • Some people did hate it Chris but for me, there was no doubting the absolute nerve wracking fun I had with it. Yes, it has many flaws but it cranks up the suspense masterfully and that’s why I gave it such a strong rating.

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  14. […] World War Z was a very memorable film for me โ€“ and Mark (MARKED MOVIES) does it justice. Iโ€™m starting to feel really crappy now because everyoneโ€™s writing just as good and I simply […]

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  15. Ah, I’ll admit I didn’t think too much of this really. I’m afraid I found Brad Pitt’s character a bit dull. It was nice to see the global effect of a zombie outbreak, but to be honest, they’re more like the Rage infected humans from 28 Days Later, than more traditional zombies. I haven’t read the book, but I’ve read Brooks’ Zombie Survival Guide, which is based around slow moving, shambling undead. I guess the World War Z book is similar.

    So it’s shame that we got these fast moving ones. I guess it generates the spectacle that modern movie audiences crave, but for me, it didn’t really work.

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    • I actually totally identified with Pitts character, Monkey. He wasnt your average “hero” type and more of an ordinary guy. I found that more believable. I’m also a big of a fan of fast moving zombies too. It cranks up the excitement that bit more. I can see why some wouldn’t take to it but I totally let myself go with and had a great time.

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      • Yeah, I can see where you’re coming from with the “ordinary guy” bit, but then… he’s Brad Pitt. How ordinary can the guy be? I guess with a guy of his star power, I expect something a bit more interesting. I think I would’ve preferred a more down-to-earth character actor in the role.

        Funnily enough, the ending they actually shot, and then dropped, has Brad Pitt battling the hordes in Russia like a warrior, from what I’ve read.

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      • See? That’s exactly the type of ending that I think could have ruined the film for me. I liked how it didn’t try to overdo some of the excellent set-pieces that came before.
        I see what you mean with it being Pitt and all, but I still bought his character and thought he delivered quite a strong, subtle performance. Fighting hordes like a warrior would have went against everything that came before.

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      • I don’t disagree. I don’t think that ending would have worked (although I hope it ends up on a blu-ray at some point, will be interesting to see it). I don’t know what would make the film work better really. I guess I just like my apocalyptic movies to be a bit braver. The lower certificates definitely hurt these types of movie. They end up feeling anemic and watered down.

        You’re left with CGI zombie hordes jumping off buildings and pinging off car roofs, which is obviously meant to thrill, but it all becomes strangely unexciting after a while.

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      • Yeah, as much as I wouldn’t have liked that ending, I would still like to see it. As for the certificate, I actually think it worked quite well. I too, like my apocalyptic movies a little braver but the lack of gore or blood actually forced Forster to work on the suspense more and attempt to jangle a few nerves without resorting to gratuitous violence or flesh eating. Don’t get wrong, this is something about zombie flicks that I normally find essential but Forster done well under the studio constraints. I didn’t really get bored, to be honest. I was thoroughly engrossed.

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  16. While I was bummed by the lack of zombie gore I ended up enjoying this film in spite of itself. A pretty good thriller but pretty low on my must watch Zombie film list.

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    • I thought the lack of gore would have been an issue for me but I found that the film still cranked up the tension without it. Beforehand, I thought it would have been impossible to do a zombie flick without a little gore and blood here and there but I have to say that Forster done a fine job under the constraints to meet that PG-13 certificate.

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  17. Surprisingly not crap ๐Ÿ˜€

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  18. This movie took a lot of heat for being a PG-13 Zombie movie, but I think that added a lot to its credibility to be appealing to a wide range of people. I failed to see why people thought it was a bad thing that audiences that usually wouldn’t watch a Zombie movie due to gore and graphic violence, could be exposed to the genre.

    Here’s my Review when it was released:
    http://www.blankpagebeatdown.com/movie-review-world-war-z-2013/

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    • I couldn’t agree more here, Shah. It was accessible to wider audience without compromising the overall impact. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

      I’ll take a look at your review when time permits. Cheers, man.

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  19. Also really liked this one and I’m not a fan of zombies ๐Ÿ™‚

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