New on DVD: World War Z (2013) Unrated Review

WWZ1

Unrated

123 minutes.

Written by: Matthew Michael Carnahan,Drew Goddard, Damon Lindelof

Directed by: Marc Forster

.

World War Z had several well-known problems during the Production that resulted in a bloated budget and a possible cinematic disaster.  Thankfully, despite the fact that it largely ignores Max Brooks novel that it is based after, this movie wasn’t a disaster and proved to be an entertaining popcorn film.  That isn’t to say that this movie is without it’s flaws but more on that later.  World War Z follows family man and former United Nations employee Gerry Lane, played by the one and only Brad Pitt, who has to protect his family amongst a mass zombie outbreak that threatens the human race.

After surviving the initial zombie attack Gerry Lane and his wife and kids are picked up by the United Nations and taken to the safety of a large navel ship.  The rest of the film follows Brad Pitt as he races around the globe searching for the initial contagion zone and a possible cure to the zombie plague, after making an agreement with the United Nations for the continued protection of his family.

Let the search commence!

.

Positives:

+ Great Lead – If you don’t like Brad Pitt you are un-American and apparently have never seen Seven or Fight Club.  He is instantly likable as the well-meaning and protective father Gerry Lane and that is very important because his performance is 95% of the film.  Even though it strays far from the source material, Brad Pitt’s performance keeps the movie grounded in reality.  Plus wrapping up a magazine and taping it to your arm is an ingenious way to avoid a zombie bite, take note Walking Dead.

+ Perfect Use Of Suspense And Tension – The main reason why World War Z was entertaining for me was the suspense that the film masterfully built.  Every time the zombie hoard exploded in mass carnage I was on the edge of my seat wondering how Brad Pitt was going to get out of this one.  This was especially true near the end of the film when Gerry and two other survivors  had to sneak into a science lab while trying to avoid confrontations with the infected.

+ Interesting Resolution – As opposed to the familiar zombie movie conclusion (survivors escape momentarily, but zombies still a threat) World War Z offers a solution to the zombie threat.  I won’t reveal it here but the solution is unique and original, yet makes a great deal of sense especially considering that the zombie outbreak is a virus.  It reminded me of The War of the Worlds… and no I’m not talking about the shitty Tom Cruise movie.

.

Negatives:

− Some Awful CGI – There were times when the zombies were downright terrifying, while other times they made me want to laugh because they looked like Resident Evil 2 PS2 models… well maybe thats a slight exaggeration.  There is never a time when the CGI looks as bad as say R.I.P.D. but occasionally it took me out of the film.  There is almost never a reason for CGI zombies, except for the scenes that involve thousands of zombies moving in hordes and climbing on top of each other which was fine.  But there is no reason for it in close-ups.  Also their movements at times was highly unrealistic especially when they lunged at people.

− A Sense Of Repetition – For a large chunk of the running time Brad Pitt’s character is traveling to different places around the globe and every place appears safe when he first arrives but is quickly over-run by zombies soon after.  This was fine the first couple of times that it happened but by the scene when Brad Pitt’s stuck on a plane filled with the undead and somehow survives a violent crash with little to no injury I have to call shenanigans.  The script needed more narrative structure, which is understandable given that it had been re-written several times.

− Lack Of Interesting Support Characters – Brad Pitt’s family barely has any scenes that focus on them after the first twenty minutes, except maybe one.  Much of the film follows Brad Pitt and random other soldiers and scientists he’s paired with, the only interesting being the female soldier he saves named Segen.  It’s just to bad she barely has any lines.   This movie could have been much better had it invested more time in other characters.  Even the great David Morse gets a bit part here that is wasted, his character isn’t even given a name in the credits.

− Very Little On-Screen Violence – Given that this version of World War Z was the Unrated cut I frankly expected more on-screen violence.  If this was the PG-13 cut that would be a different story.  We get blood after an arm de-limbing and some quick editing showcasing Brad Pitt bashing in a zombies skull.  There was a lack of impact during zombie attacks by not showing the carnage that they could inflict, and when an attack was shown it was in a series of quick edits.  Very lame.

.

When a movie is released on Blu-ray or DVD with an Unrated cut of the film audiences expect a certain amount of violence added to the theatrical cut, especially when it comes to horror movies.  So it pisses me off and screams marketing ploy to me when films such as World War Z advertise and rlease their movies as being Unrated when they could barely be considered even R.

Marc Forster’s World War Z when at it’s best was a suspenseful horror thriller that had the audience on the edges of their seats.  Unfortunately the lack of interesting and engaging side-characters and a sense of repetition ruined a lot of the previous proceedings.  The script needed more structure to the narrative and is proof that sometimes to many voices is a bad thing.  Brad Pitt, however, keeps this movie grounded in reality and because of him World War Z is kept from becoming a disaster.  Just prepare to be disappointed if your expecting a proper adaptation to Max Brooks novel.

World War Z is better than the Resident Evil films and there are like 6 or 7 of those.  That has to count for something… right?

6/10