I have to admit that I am getting a little zombied out lately with so many releases featuring the undead in all sorts of variations and incarnations – not to mention the TV show that pretty much covers everything that seems possible in the genre. Therefore I was a bit reluctant to check out "World War Z" and it was only the fact that I had read and thoroughly enjoyed the novel that I decided to pick this one up.
While the book was a collection of anecdotes by survivors of the Zombie Apocalypse, where they discuss their experiences. It was sectioned into different parts, covering the initial outbreak, the war against the zombies and the aftermath in an almost documentary fashion. Hard to do that in a major Hollywood movie, and therefore the filmmakers made some dramatic changes. Instead of having unconnected anecdotes, the story revolves around UN investigator Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) who tries to find patient zero – the point where the virus originated. As a result he is forced to travel around the world, following leads, and over the course of his travels, he experiences the different facets of the Zombie Apocalypse – much in the same way as they were described in the book. Pretty smart approach, actually, if you ask me, and it paid off.
While not without its flaws and bogged down by the nauseating over-saturation of the zombie genre we have come to witness over the past 10 years, "World War Z" is nonetheless an incredibly intense film. The opening moments of the film when we witness the outbreak in Philadelphia are almost perversely powerful, as the viewer very quickly grasps the ferocity and the sheer scope of the problem, as it escalates right before your eyes in a matter of seconds. It is easy for anyone to make the connection, what kind of problems such a pandemic can cause on a global level after watching the first ten minutes of the film, and from there we're off to the races as one furious set piece chases another with barely time to catch a breath.
While the story is taking the backseat in many instances, the individual set pieces are marvelous and work well together, ranging from the streets of Philadelphia, the awe-inspiring walls of Jerusalem to crashing planes and high tech labs. This live wire feel of the movie, ultimately becomes its biggest flaw, perhaps, because it's almost impossible to create a climax that eclipses it all. The filmmakers opted for a more emotional approach, switching gears, but sadly, the effect is not nearly as strong as it needed to be to really wrap up the film, and as such, the film's ending is a most anti-climactic "That's it?" moment.
"World War Z" may not go down as one of the genre milestones it perhaps had hoped to become, but it is a solid zombie horror entry that gives you a thrilling and adrenaline-pumped viewing experience. It is hard to do do something fresh in a genre that has been covered and fielded from so many angles and fortunately, "World War Z" stands out valiantly for finding a way to still feels fresh on the surface, even if most of it is simply the result of its massive scope that has not been seen before in any zombie movie.
The Blu-Ray version contains the theatrical cut of the movie, as well as an unrated cut with 7 minutes of additional footage inserted into the film. The presentation is meticulously clean and clear without any defects or blemishes. An incredible high level of detail and solid black levels ensure that you get the most of this major production. Justmake sure you actually insert the Blu-Ray disc, because Paramount has this nasty habit of hiding the Blu-Ray disc under the inlay flyer on the inside of the cover flap, while putting the DVD front and center in their packaging. What kind of logic is behind that decision is really anyone's guess.
A number of featurettes are also included on the release, giving you a good look at the production. I found the segments covering the origins of the project the most interesting, as they discuss how the book was approached to make the movie. But a close look at the characters and the effects – and the zombies, naturally -are also well worth checking out.
I had fun with "World War Z." It's been some time since a zombie movie had me on the edge like this – and not with silly splatter and gore, but from the sheer terror and intensity of the events unfolding. If you're a horror fan or a zombie enthusiast, make sure to check it out. You'll definitely get your money's worth of entertainment here.