World War Z: Blu Ray Review
Released by Universal Home Entertainment
Once again, the apocalypse is upon us.
This time, it's potentially down to Brad Pitt to save the day after a viral outbreak turns the global populace into the chomping undead in an adaptation of Max Brooks' World War Z. Pitt is Gerry Lane, a UN inspector brought in despite having left the organisation when the world's overcome - and he alone can help identify Patient Zero and potentially source a cure to save the human race. So, forced to leave his family with the military, off he sets on a global trip which takes him from Newark to South Korea via Jerusalem before finally ending up in Wales. (Yes, I just said Wales). But as he tries to track down what caused it all, at every turn it appears that the virus could be about to beat him..
World War Z is a tense, thrilling, nerve-shredding ride in places - and curiously lacking in logic and sense in others.
It's also frenzied, frenetic and intense during its set pieces, which get underway very quickly after the non- too subtle ramming home of the fact that Gerry's now a family man (he makes pancakes for the family while watching details of the outbreak out of the corner of his eye on the TV). A cross town journey turns into something hellish within the first 10 minutes of screen time and then doesn't let up for a burst of edge-of-your-seat tension. As scene-setting stuff goes, it's right up there with some of the best as it instantly tells you everything you need to know about this post-apocalyptic world coming directly after such calm start. Foreboding is everywhere with a distorted voice on the radio intoning that "Containment is a fail" and hinting that the worst is yet to come.
And yet, once the story actually kicks in, it's actually a little lacking on the human side as Lane's globe trotting gets underway; he's torn asunder from his family that he's spent the first 20 minutes trying to protect and it robs the film of the emotional pull and personal danger that it needs. Although there are hints of tensions with the military, they're never fully explored or dramatically exploited, which is to the screenplay's detriment.
Pitt's perfectly suited to the role but it's a series of video game style moments which are sparingly sown together and narratively weak - flee the city, escape to the roof of the tower block, follow the troops on a raid through Z infected territory (Zombie Dark Thirty anyone?) and so on - which make it difficult to fully engage with. But that said, the short and often brutal bursts of intense suspense and knuckle gripping terror during the terrific set pieces work quite effectively though.Pulling in the visual style of Steven Soderbergh's Contagion (drenched in yellows) and using 3D wisely to bolster the backgrounds (rather than relying on a zombie jumping out of the screen - of which there is but one shot), World War Z overall, is a success. It blends thrills, spills and suspense to form something which leaves the heart and adrenaline pumping even if occasionally, the action and consequently story, slow to a crawl once the chillingly effective set pieces have ended.