MRR's First Glimpse: "World War Z" Review

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A post-apocalyptic horror thriller directed by Marc Forster and based on Max Brooks's novel "World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War". As a zombie pandemic traverses the globe, United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) travels the world trying to find a way to stop the pandemic that is defeating armies and collapsing governments as they try to prevent social collapse.
3.5

MRR's First Glimpse: "World War Z" Review

-- Rating: PG-13 (intense and frightening scenes, violence)
Length: 116 minutes
Release Date: June 21, 2013
Directed by: Marc Forster
Genre: Horror/Action/Drama

It's the end of the world as three billion people morph into rage-filled, fast-paced zombies intent on shredding all living flesh into a smorgasbord of bite-sized snack food. Thirty years ago, this type of plotline would come with an action hero with bulging muscles and a heavy accent-or, more likely, to cult-horror star Bruce Campbell-but 2013's "Word War Z" features Brad Pitt in the role of warrior-savior. Although the movie hit a few potholes during filmmaking, most critics agreed that Pitt fits in the role nicely.

"World War Z," which was slated to hit theaters in December 2012, was rescheduled for a June 2013 release after Paramount decided the film could benefit from a do-over. Treating the film like the victim of one of its own zombies, the studio ripped off the ending, rewrote part of the script, and reshot a good part of the climactic ending. Movie critics received the news of the "World War Z" surgery with the same enthusiasm with which villagers received Frankenstein's monster. Luckily, director Marc Forster and his team did a better stitch job on "World War Z" than Victor did with his creation, and pre-release reviews are piping good vibes into the entertainment industry.

"Word War Z" is based on a book by Max Brooks and features global themes commonly associated with apocalypse movies-especially those with the shuffling beat of zombie feet. The movie distinguishes itself from cult classic zombie fare and popular zombie television shows by delivering a different sort of monster. The hordes pictured in "World War Z" are like undead human locusts. They swarm up and over buildings, cities, and people in an onslaught akin to moving water. The result of this change in zombie-related viewer expectations is both breathtaking and nightmare inducing. One of the strengths of "World War Z" is in the scenes of terror and devastation, and the filmmakers spare no expense in this area. Viewers see action in New York, Korea, Jerusalem, and more.

In an attempt to highlight a human element amid the global destruction, "World War Z" concentrates on Gerry Lane (Pitt), an employee of the United Nations. Lane and his family struggle with the events of the zombie apocalypse. They find themselves safe aboard a ship in short order, but Gerry's work isn't done. He is sent on a mission to find the first person infected with the zombie virus. Lane travels across the world to investigate the outbreak. When Lane encounters other humans, viewers get an even grimmer picture of death and destruction. Human companionship in the universe of "World War Z" is often short-lived and violently ended.

The last third of the movie is the result of Paramount's decision to take the film through a chop shop, and discerning viewers may be able to tell where the first try stops and the second attempt picks up. There's a different pace, a different viewpoint on the zombies, and a different feel to the last part of the film. Gerry, who has managed to draw together a small band of survivors, infiltrates a World Health Organization lab in an attempt to discover what started the zombie plague. It's in these scenes that viewers first get up close and personal with a few zombies. Despite the impressive hordes in the first two thirds of the film, the zombies turn out to be brainless and clumsy entities after all.

"World War Z" includes a competent cast, although no individual stands out with quite so much star power as Pitt. Other actors in the film include Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale, Ludi Boeken, and Matthew Fox. Overall, the film is fast paced and presents the type of underdog-against-all-odds storyline summer audiences favor. When the camera moves away from the terror of the zombie plague and attempts to shine the light on human elements, the story does get a little clunky, but that's almost a trademark of zombie films, and it doesn't detract too much from the film overall.

Other than the impressive scope of rapid zombie hordes, "World War Z" doesn't bring anything extremely unique to the zombie-apocalypse genre. Even so, the extra work and production delays were probably worth Paramount's time and money. The result is a movie that stands above average and provides a few hours of adventure for summer audiences.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5