Written by: Tom Baio
This past 1st day of summer 2013, zombie fever reached an appropriate high with the release of World War Z. Loosely based on the 2006 novel of the same name by Max Brooks (son of infamous director Mel Brooks), the story follows a former United Nations investigator as he tries to find the cause & cure to a zombie epidemic sweeping the globe.
Played with a calm intensity by Brad Pitt as the investigator, the audience is taken along with the character on an international thrill ride where outnumbered invasions, narrow escapes, foot & vehicle chases & gun battles follow his every step. Pitt’s greatest achievement here is convincingly bringing to life a character who, despite his ability to bring hope to everyone he encounters, is really just an everyday family man. The movie thankfully does not follow the usual clichés of making him an ex-military, former special Ops or prisoner, etc. who can dive into the fight with no qualms. Pitt’s character relies on his observation skills rather than his brawn to fight the odds. Although Pitt is MVP here, the supporting cast is outstanding as well; utilizing the significantly shorter screen time they were given (arguably, the stand-out of the supporters being actress Daniella Kertesz, who plays an Israeli soldier who stays by Pitt’s side until the finish). Strong all-round performances, eye catching locations, first rate special effects & well staged action combine to produce the literal first blockbuster of summer 2013.
Well before its release, the film was getting a strong buzz…….the type film makers don’t want. The film suffered re-casting, going over budget & worst of all, numerous re-writes. However, audiences will not be able to tell this from the final result. The screenwriters chosen to bring this story to life include Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard & Damon Lindelof, who are responsible for scripting: Cabin in the Woods, the latest Star Trek movies, The Kingdom, Cloverfield & Cowboys & Aliens (among other titles). These writers served as surgeons to not only put WWZ together, but to also patch up any of its loose stitches.
Director Marc Forster deserves special mention here as well. A director of predominantly drama movies (Monster’s Ball & Finding Neverland), with WWZ he has solidified himself as a strong craftsman of large scale action sequences. The proof for this during the movie is as follows: a Jerusalem invasion (the movie’s highlight), a standoff on board an airplane in flight, & the finale within the labyrinthine halls of a medical research facility. Tension, suspense & thrills are well sustained throughout the film’s running time under Forster’s eye. Even more remarkable, is the risky move of toning down the blood & gore usually associated with movies concerning zombies (despite the high body count & continuous violence, the film is mostly bloodless). Bodies are riddled with bullets, limbs are severed, zombies bite their victims & both humans and undead are set on fire. However, none of these aspects are graphically shown; they are only implied. Amazingly, the overall intended impact remains intact. Forster has proven that graphic displays of zombie carnage are not necessary to tell this kind of story. Although there is no rush to have Forster abandon his drama movie forte, there is a desire (at least in the opinion of this review) to see him dabble some more in the action & horror genres.
And there you have it. World War Z is summer blockbuster magic. We hope you enjoy the viewing of this film as much as we did. Thank you for reading this to completion.