Wednesday, 19 June 2013


Paramount Pictures

Now Showing

The 'Z', of course, stands for zombie even if the marketing behind World War Z, adapted from Max Brooks' graphic novel of the same name, seems to have gone out of its way to avoid mentioning the word. Perhaps because, for a film about a global zombie pandemic, there's very little of your typical zombie action -- that is, the feasting on human flesh, and blood, lots of blood -- to sink your teeth into.

What director Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace) has produced, along with leading man and producer, Brad Pitt, is a thriller which sees Pitt's former U.N. investigator, Gerry Lane, recalled by the powers-that-be to assist them in tracking down the source, and possibly a cure, for the blood-borne virus which has spread like wildfire across the globe; turning (and very quickly at that) mild mannered citizens into bloodthirsty members of the living dead.

Leaving his wife, Karin (Mireille Enos), and two young daughters aboard an at-sea naval ship (along with a young boy they've collected in their escape from the mainland), Gerry embarks on his globe-trotting mission; hopscotching from South Korea, to Israel and then Wales for a series of tension-filled set pieces which may quicken your pulse and set your heart racing but won't require you to duck for cover when the zombies strike (Note to filmmakers: if a wuss like me isn't scared, your film isn't scary).

Television series, The Walking Dead, has made zombies both popular and scary as fuck. They may be your old school, slow-moving walkers (though they don't chant hungrily for brains) but they manage to strike fear in your heart whenever they appear on screen. (And a zombie stampede at the end of Season 2 was the stuff of my nightmares.)

The zombies in World War Z don't achieve that level of fear. While they're certainly more convincing than the CGI walkers in I Am Legend (2007), their rapid-fire movements make them less convincing (and thus less scary) than an actor in deathly make-up and covered in blood-red corn syrup, however slowly they shuffle.

It's only when Gerry and his Israeli soldier companion, Segen (Daniella Kertesz), arrive at a W.H.O facility in Wales (having survived two close call attacks, on the ground in Tel Aviv and en route mid-air) and must contend with an entire research wing of scientists-turned-walkers that you are truly repulsed; the gnashing of their no-longer pearly whites is quite unsettling.

Pitt has said in interviews for the film that he wanted to make a movie for his sons. Given that they're not yet teenagers, presumably Pitt also wanted to keep them nightmare free; and as a producer, he no doubt had an eye on the box office: an MA15+ rating would seriously eat into the core teen boy audience. Hence, no gore and very little blood. (And I'd wager, very little interest and much disappointment from said demographic.)

Still, as a pre-apocalyptic thriller for adults, World War Z isn't completely anaemic. Brad Pitt convinces as our everyman hero, more brains than brawn, and his waiting family provides an emotional investment (sadly, no other characters are fleshed out). Horror and zombie fans may have to look elsewhere to sate their blood lust but for those who like to grip their armrest whilst telling themselves it's all going to be okay, World War Z should provide the necessary adrenaline to ward off the zzz's.

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