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Friday, June 21, 2013


Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

2013, 115 minutes
Rated PG-13 for intense frightening zombie sequences, violence and disturbing images

Review by Joshua Handler

With all of the production problems on this film, World War Z should not be anywhere near as good as it is.  Directed by Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball, Stranger Than Fiction), this is a unique thrill ride that certainly has its problems, but keeps its momentum going for so long that it is hard to not marvel.  The film follows Gerry Lane, a former UN detective, who has to travel around the world to try and find a cure for whatever is causing people to turn into zombies.

The action scenes of the first two-thirds of the film are magnificent and visceral.  The visual effects are stunning and never look anything less than 100% real.  The action is filmed with a relatively steady camera and is edited for maximum impact.  Each sequence is brutally violent, yet never gory, and many scenes are completely terrifying. 

The last third of the film becomes more contained and loses much of the smarts (there are some really stupid moments), power, and terror that the first two-thirds had.  While not bad, it is certainly not good and leads the movie to a lackluster conclusion.  That being said, though, the first two-thirds are so exciting that their effect is not ruined by the last third.

Brad Pitt’s performance is stellar.  He is one of the few actors working today who manages to be a great action hero as well as a great actor.  This role is reminiscent of his role in Moneyball, as both characters are loving fathers trying to keep their lives together against big odds.  Pitt’s performances are always heartfelt and in World War Z, he adds a human touch to a character that could very well have ended up as another generic action hero.  I cared for him the whole way through the film.

Overall, World War Z is a really interesting film, as the rewrites and reshoots did not seem to help the film in the least.  While I do not know what would have replaced the more contained final part of the film, I can say that what was reshot was generic and too tonally different to make World War Z fantastic.  Had the film continued into the last third with the momentum that the first two-thirds had, it would easily have gone down as one of the greatest zombie movies ever made.  But alas, it didn’t.  In its current state, World War Z is merely a good film, nothing more nothing less, with enough good to make it worth seeing.  The globetrotting adventures with zombie action during the first two-thirds are enough to justify buying a ticket for this movie.


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