World War Z (3D)
Paramount // PG-13 // June 21, 2013
Review by Jeff Nelson | posted June 20, 2013
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If one was to analyze the evolution of zombie flicks, the results would be quite interesting. The undead used to be portrayed as slow-moving obstacles that could be killed rather easily, as long as you aren't being attacked by too many at once. Over time, zombies have been conveyed in various fashions. Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later delivered tension and intensity with its "running zombies," which made them much more aggressive. While this would cause quite a bit of debate within the horror community, a lot of mainstream audiences claimed them to be much scarier. Any assailant is more frightening when they're running at you rather than stumbling at you. Based off of Max Brooks' 2006 apocalyptic horror novel, World War Z is being brought to the big screen with Marc Forster behind the camera. Some are excited for this summer blockbuster, while other audiences are irritated with the feature's PG-13 rating.

United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) has quit his job in order to spend more time with his wife and daughters. One horrifying morning, a zombie pandemic begins to occur. After experiencing life during the apocalypse, Gerry Lane has no choice but to assume his position once again and uncover a solution to the problem. This leads him on a global journey in order to find answers to the questions that can possibly save the world, but it's a race against the clock. However, these super-zombies are toppling armies and governments in the mission to destroy humanity itself.

While I enjoyed the film more than I thought, writers Drew Goddard, Matthew Michael Carnahan, and Damon Lindelof have produced a mixed screenplay. The film most certainly has its moments in which it can be intense and thrilling, but it also becomes quite tacky and lackluster through other portions. Even though most audiences won't be seeing this for the characters, they're still worth discussing. All of the roles are quite generic, including our protagonist. I never felt connected with any of the characters throughout, which harmed some of the feature's more emotional scenes. There are several segments of the picture that attempt to create an emotional impact, but it fails to make these scenes convincing. In fact, it can sometimes receive unintentional laughs from the crowd. You'll wonder if it's possible to fast forward through all of the drama in order to get to the exciting action sequences.

Since World War Z is a summer blockbuster, it aims to entertain. This is where the motion picture primarily succeeds. Despite the fact that the film is around two hours long, the running time flies by. The dramatic scenes put a slight damper on the overall pacing, but there's plenty to enjoy through the remainder of the movie's duration. However, the film also appears to be trying to display how a zombie apocalypse would occur in the real world. While the narrative follows Gerry Lane, World War Z has a fair amount of social commentary. Fortunately, this is one of the most subtle aspects of the motion picture. This movie would have instantly been torn apart if it became too heavy-handed with its commentary on our current society. There are some decent concepts to be found throughout the running time, and most of them are executed as they should be.

Unfortunately, World War Z's weakest portion is found within its finale. After the movie has been taking place on a large scale, Lindelof decided to pull us back into a claustrophobic environment for the climax within his rewrite. Not only is this a weak ending that contains an extremely small amount of intensity compared to the rest of the running time, but it becomes incredibly ridiculous. The writers clearly didn't know how to end this story. This led them to writing a tacky ending that will leave viewers with a bad taste that is difficult to remove. The finale makes all of the emotional scenes look like Oscar-winning material. Cheers to Lindelof ruining yet another screenplay.

The casting itself is decent, but the screenplay certainly hinders each performance. Brad Pitt plays Gerry Lane. Since he was also a producer, he has a clear dedication to the project. This comes out through his performance, since he's the most believable actor on screen. While the supporting cast looks the part, they aren't always able to deliver worthwhile delivery. Fortunately, Pitt is the unwavering center of attention. The narrative never ventures away from this character, as he travels from location to location in the attempt to discover more information about the aggressive zombies.

With the large set-pieces, this film surely feels a lot more like an action flick than it does a horror combination. While the zombies have been pulled from the genre, no other tactics are utilized here. There are some lame jump-scares that will surely please teen crowds. Director Marc Forster presents some dizzying camerawork as it becomes difficult to see what's going on through some of the sequences. However, the cinematography and the sound design are both exceptional. They truly make this plot feel like the apocalypse is taking place. Unfortunately, the film doesn't have any gore to be found. Since it has a PG-13 rating, this has clearly been made for younger audiences. Those who are interested in the 3D format will be disappointed to hear that World War Z looks quite flat. See it in 2D and appreciate the picture's strong cinematography and sound design.

It's always interesting when a big celebrity takes a chance to work on something a bit risky. World War Z is an odd project for Brad Pitt, but he fits as both an actor and as the producer. He aided in making this motion picture as intense and thrilling as it currently is. However, Damon Lindelof created an extremely lazy and unfortunate ending that shouldn't have been tacked on in the final product. The film is successful as a summer blockbuster through its action sequences, but it fails to create an emotional connection with the viewers. Coming from somebody who hasn't read Brooks' novel, I found this film to be better than I thought it would be. The lack of blood and carnage is disappointing, but it doesn't stop this motion picture from being entertaining. World War Z might not be very creative, but that isn't the end of the world. Enjoy it as a summer blockbuster and you'll have a good time. Recommended.



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