WORLD WAR Z received all the wrong kind of hype when it was first unveiled. At the screening for the 2012 Super Bowl viewers saw a teaser for it. The problem? It was mysterious, and not the good kind. It didn't show us any real reason why someone would pay $12 to see it. It was one of the most poorly made teasers ever created. And the fact that it would be deviating from the novel it was based on didn't help matters. But then it came out, and lo and behold it actually garnered some good reviews. It ended up being one of the surprise hits of 2013. Zombies in Hollywood is nothing new, in fact many call it an ongoing fad, same with vampires. There has been good zombie/infected flicks such as Dawn of the Dead and Quarantine, and hundreds of low budget, plain awful films. World War Z rises above the latter and aligns itself with some of the zombie greats. Director Marc Forster delivers a near-perfect experience, easily one of the best action-horror films in awhile.
The plot follows Gerry who is the key player in finding a vaccine for the zombie plague. He'll have to travel far and wide to get there while trying to live another day to see his family. This film plays out much like THE LAST OF US. The intro starts out where we meet the main character and his family. There are hints to what's happening on the TV stations and overall ominous atmosphere. The opening act is easily one of, if not the best part of the film. The perspective is very realistic and frightening to think that this could actually happen. The CGI zombie took away from that realism a bit, but it quickly picked up afterward. It's a great beginning, it sets up the tone and panic. It's not something you haven't seen before, but regardless it's handled marvelously.
The film perfectly creates an atmosphere of tension and unease, much like THE LAST OF US. The second part of the beginning act where Gerry and his family were in the apartment is a callback to those dark levels for people that played the aforementioned game. Brad Pitt is one of the bigger name actors out there, so naturally he's pretty much on screen the entire time. He does a solid job as the protagonist, nothing to complain about. His wife (Mireille Enos) has a genuine feel to her dialogue, plus the chemistry between her and Pitt is good. The daughters are your stereotypical terrified kids you find in these movies. There are quite a few other characters that pop up throughout the two hours. One of the more interesting ones was the deranged ex-CIA-agent, who sadly after his appearance doesn't appear again or is even mentioned. But pretty much everyone fits their roles nicely. (It was also interesting to see Agents of S.H.I.E.LD. star Ruth Negga in this.)
One of the things setting this apart from other zombie films is the location, which changes throughout. We have New York, then Newark NJ, and even Jerusalem. So in-between all the mayhem we're treated to some nice scenery. I bet you would never expect a zombie invasion in Israel, we're so used to seeing these things in American cities or suburban towns. The actual zombies don't disappoint. Like in Dawn of the Dead, they run at incredible speeds. There's a lot of action within the two hours. It's definitely more of an action movie than horror, which isn't a bad thing. We've seen a lot of movies where the characters are defenseless, so it's nice to see them taking on a proactive role.
The film never fails to unnerve the viewer. The only scene I didn't particularly care for was in the climax. After Gerry finds out the cure he starts walking back to the others past the un-dead. It's a bit cheesy and kinda ruins the mood. Thankfully the final few minutes with the narration makes up for that. There are plenty of great scenes throughout. From the Jerusalem invasion, to the plane, to the the W.H.O. Building, there's a lot of great set pieces. The soundtrack is pretty typical, it matches the scenes nicely enough. There's no memorable themes, but then again in this type of movie great music isn't such a huge factor.
Overall, WORLD WAR Z was a big surprise. It succeeds in being an action-horror film, a lot of fun but with plenty of scares too. The zombies don't disappoint, plus I don't think we've ever seen a film where they use each other to get over great walls. It's two hours, but it goes by rather quickly since it's paced really well. I hope it goes down as a 'classic' zombie flick, because it deserves it. I eagerly await a sequel.