Movie Review: World War Z (2013)

World War Z (dir. Marc Foster, 2013) – United Nations employee Gerry Lane races against time to find the cure to the zombie plague.


Loved World War Z by Max Brooks? Leave your expectations at the door and walk in with a small appetite for cheap thrills.


World War Z bases its title off the Max Brooks novel. That is about as far as the similarities go. While the book reinvented the Z-genre with gripping accounts and clever political commentary, its movie adaptation is having none of that. Instead, we get a straightforward hero narrative – and with it, a disappointed frown.

But the die has been cast. We can only hope for an unrelated spin-off to leap into mockumentary territory in the near future. Or better yet, a proper telly series. Meanwhile, we shall make do with the derivative plot that wastes no time and bolts straight into havoc. Grand set pieces guaranteed.

Caught in the mayhem is UN investigator Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), tasked to ferret out the cure to the zombie plague. His family left forgotten in sanctuary, he sets out to hunt down Patient Zero. The focus on Brad Pitt’s stock character wastes a hugely talented cast, including Moritz Bleibtreu and James Badge Dale. The bulk of Matthew Fox’s role seems lost (sorry, I couldn’t resist) on the cutting room floor withal.

Perhaps much of the footage was let go in favour of a fast pace. There is a clear favour of mass appeal over characterisation. Slick blockbuster action comes relentless as a series of unfortunate events persists. Everything that can go wrong, does. Well-timed suspense constantly places witnesses on pins and needles.

World War Z
Photo: Plan B Entertainment / Jaap Buitendijk

Sharp objects in this film however barely prick. Not one soul gets red on them. Bodies contort as they reanimate, but unlike the typical Dead fare, they snarl more than they bite. The brain-thirsty swarm does an unusually clean job, where not one drop of blood is seen despite the growing hordes of the undead. As a result, the stakes feel exceptionally low.

An adapted title without an adapted story, a war without bloodshed. Lacking in every department, World War Z is a generic affair bound for burial in the already-teeming zombie genre. What does sound fascinating is the alternate ending thrown in the drawer. Here’s to hoping that would make it on the DVD.

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