World War Z has a troubled history, with a reshot ending and rumours of a budget ranging from $200m to $400m. Advance word was not good, though on a lighter note, filming in Lulworth Cove did lead to Brad Pitt making a fair sized donation to the Neonatal Unit charitable fund at the hospital at which I work. Which is nice.
Anyway, with advance word that World War Z could be this year’s John Carter [no longer Of Mars], the question is, does it live down to the… err… what’s the opposite of hype? We’ll get to that…
Brad Pitt is Gerry Lane, a former UN… err… person. When there’s a worldwide outbreak of zombie-ism, Pitt first uses his contacts to get his family safe, but then those contacts want to use him to help understand what’s happening. From a base on an aircraft carrier (which can seemingly launch much larger planes than I thought was possible), Pitt is despatched first to South Korea, then to Israel on the trail of the outbreak.
Side note: these aren’t zombie-zombies – they aren’t the dead risen from the ground, it’s some kind of viral infection, and they run at a pace. And for that matter they can turn people at a pace – 12 seconds, in fact.
The film takes the same kind of format as Contagion, following the tracing of a virus, but is much simpler. This is a big budget action movie, after all. In fact, the plot is incredibly simplistic, based around five sequences which are designed to parcel out small chunks of exposition amidst some thrills and action. Those bits of exposition can be summed up as 1) what’s the problem; 2) how does our lead get involved?; 3) what exactly are they dealing with?; 4) inspiration for solution; & 5) resolution.
If there wasn’t enough variation and novelty in the action sequences, the limited plotting would be an issue, but what’s on show in WWZ differs enough from the rest of the mainstream fare to keep things interesting, as well as offering some decent tonal shifts as the film goes on. The big set piece, glimpsed in trailers, of zombies piling on top of one another to scale walls outside of Jerusalem is like nothing you’ll see anywhere else.
All of that is not to say the film is without its issues. There are some leaps in logic and some convenient twists and turns, and as I mentioned, the plot is lightweight. The film is not a masterpiece, but it is an enjoyable ride and well worth a watch.
Length: 1hr 56mins – Feels like 1hr 45mins