Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Film Review: World War Z

After lengthy delays, re-writes and put-offs, Marc Forster's zombie/action epic World War Z finally hits cinema screens this week. With edge-of-your-seat tension and apocalyptic destruction, World War Z aims to satisfy the appetite of an audience who enjoyed 2012 and I am Legend. So, how does it stack up? 

Starring Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos and Peter Capaldi, this action-heavy apocalyptic blockbuster charts the initial outbreak and spread of a virus that converts swathes of the human race into mindless, mouth-frothing zombies. And not the walking, shuffling kind either. These dudes can sprint, climb and pile onto one another like ants.

I thought that the initial outbreak was written and shot well; it managed to capture that sense of panic well. The fear that spreads through the crowd of people on-screen is relayed to the audience through the way in which director Marc Forster only affords us brief glimpses of the undead through some flashy, shaky editing.

Whilst the technique is effective at first, I found that the use of shaky cam and rapid editing in all of the action sequences was overused and slightly nauseating. I know that it is meant to evoke a sense of panic and adrenalin (like in Bourne or Craig-Bond films), but here it just felt tiresome and really took me out of the action. It wasn't until the final third of the film that Forster let the camera linger on the characters a little more.

If your a fan of the zombie genre, you might be slightly disappointed to know that this rapid editing technique also means there is a complete lack of blood and gore. If you were hoping for a Hollywood-budget version of The Walking Dead, complete with spurting arteries and veins, you will be disappointed.

Forster ensures that the film quickly cuts away from any potential MA15+ style neck-biting. There are three or four jump scares that might send your popcorn cascading onto the floor, but other than that, the zombies in World War Z are positively family-friendly and contain zero squelching.

Throughout the film, Brad Pitt's character, Gerry Lane, zig-zags his way across the globe in search of a cure (from the USA to South Korea, Israel and Wales), and whilst this allows for the film to live up to its 'world war' moniker, it does mean that most of his characterisation is lost beneath swarming seas of the undead.

If he isn't being hunted by zombies in New York, he's being chased by zombies in Jerusalem or stalked by zombies in Cardiff. Once Pitt is made to leave his family behind on an aircraft carrier in the Atlantic Ocean, the attention is squarely on action and destruction. I found that the CGI was okay, but not great. The massive swarms of zombies aren't going to make your jaw hit the ground or anything like that.

The numerous re-writes and script revisions are evident in the final product; The films narrative is annoying episodic, veering from one place to another without time to settle down. I found that I preferred the film's stripped-back, creepier final 30 minutes to the rest of the film combined.

On the whole, I wasn't overly impressed by World War Z. Whilst I enjoyed the final half an hour and the genuine tension it generated, I found that insistence on huge CGI set-pieces diverted attention away from the simplistic plot and underdeveloped characters. It was also fairly tame for a zombie film, almost certainly in an attempt to draw a wider audience.

If your looking for a epic, action-orientated science-fiction blockbuster then World War Z is better than something similar After Earth, which is also in cinemas now. However, if you like your zombie films gooey, scary and gruesome, best leave this one be.

I give World War Z: 6/10

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