tue 30/05/2023

DVD: World War Z | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: World War Z

DVD: World War Z

How plausible is the latest dose of CGI armageddon?

Yet another undead sort jealous of Brad's hair

Within moments of World War Z beginning Piers Morgan is onscreen. Zombies, schmombies - this is surely the face of true horror. Where that smug mug blossoms, the apocalypse cannot be far behind. Morgan pops up among intercut US news-streams and media that open the film.

This collage hints at eco-disaster before we settle into the everyday Philadelphia home life of Gerry and Karin Lane (Brad Pitt and Mireille Enos, who was the lead in the US remake of The Killing) and their two daughters. Gerry is a house-husband but, as we slowly find out, he used to be a superhero UN investigator. Before too long Philadelphia succumbs to waves of twitchy, hyper-speed, post-28 Days Later zombies and Gerry is on an aircraft carrier in the Atlantic being blackmailed by the military into a mission to save the world.

Gerry must accompany Dr Fassbach (Elyes Gabel – Guppy from Casualty), a smug, irritating expert who’s possibly intended to be cheeky and likeable. Together their mission is to locate the source of the “rabies” outbreak in South Korea but, naturally, things don’t go according to plan and Gerry ends up on a globe-trotting adventure which comprises the heart of the film.

Adapted from Max Brooks’ oral history-style 2006 novel, it’s not a film that boasts a multiplicity of twists and turns but, especially in the first two-thirds, the pace and the continuous eye-popping catastrophe are enough to hold the attention. Director Marc Foster made his name with actorly Hollywood Oscar-bait such as Monsters' Ball and Finding Neverland, but more recently helmed so-so action flicks Machine Gun Preacher and the lesser Bond outing Quantum of Solace. He is capable at marshalling the mayhem here, mustering some spectacular escapes from tight corners, but he never pushes World War Z into the realms of the utterly gripping as Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead rejig did.

There are some smart touches – the initial traffic jam zombie explosion in Philadelphia; the sudden, unexpected fate of Dr Fassbach; the insectoid way the zombies mass and attack like a swarm; an enjoyably claustrophobic zombie attack in an aeroplane. And, while we never pause long enough to get to know anyone apart from hunky, shampoo ad Brad, the acting is decent and believable (including his, incidentally). It’s great to see Peter Capaldi pop up in a cameo and new face Daniella Kertesz as a severely wounded but plucky Israeli soldier is a notable find.

The concluding chunk of storyline lags. The solution to the zombie plague, while offering some originality, is not especially exciting or whizz-bang thrilling. The very end of the film tails off in a flurry of waffle but the final voice-over hints at a sequel. If there is one, the pieces are adequately in place, but the ante must be upped, not in terms of spectacle, but with regard to tightening the drama.

The DVD comes with a couple of mini-documentaries, one about how the film came together, the other about how the behaviour of the zombies was modelled on nature and science.

Overleaf: watch the trailer for World War Z


Especially in the first two-thirds, the pace and the continuous eye-popping catastrophe are enough to hold the attention


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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