World War Z

world war zReleased: 2013
Director: Marc Foster
Starring: Brad Pitt,
Mireille Enos

A great Saturday night popcorn flick


I’ve been telling everyone I can that key scenes in World War Z were filmed in my home city of Glasgow and that one of the buildings that features prominently (Glasgow City Chambers) is my dad’s office. I even shared some photos from the set. I had taken World War Z on as my own personal film of the summer. Of course, my own little fantasies about finding Brad Pitt in my dad’s filing cabinet doesn’t actually make the film any good. To discover if it’s worth all my boasting about my dad’s office I actually had to go and watch the film.

Brad Pitt plays Gerry Lane, a former United Nations investigator who has given up his harrowing job to stay at home with his wife (Mireille Enos) and two daughters. His peaceful life is torn apart when a global plague causes an outbreak of zombieism (it’s a word, I made it a word). Billions of people are dying – or not actually dying – and more than ¾ of the world’s population are infected. In order to secure his family’s safety Gerry agrees to join a small team investigating the source of the outbreak. The hunt for the truth takes Gerry to Korea, Israel and – implausibly enough – Wales.

I’ve seen some mixed reviews of World War Z (pronounced Zed naturally) but I actually really enjoyed it. I’ve not read Max Brooks’ source novel and that may have helped with my enjoyment. I had no prior knowledge of the story and no preconceptions about what should happen. I understand that fans of the book are disappointed but I really can’t make any judgements other than based on the film as a stand-alone piece of entertainment. And based on that then World War Z works really well.

There are problems, this isn’t a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination. Despite the importance in the storyline of Lane’s wife and children I felt absolutely no connection with them and didn’t care if they lived or died. When they were threatened with removal from their place of safety I didn’t care. There is no emotional core to the film. Only once did I feel any emotional connection to the story and that was when Gerry stood on the edge of a building, scared he may have been infected by zombie blood.

Despite though there being no emotional centre that doesn’t stop World War Z from being a thoroughly satisfying popcorn movie. Brad Pitt makes an excellent hero and I liked Daniella Kertesz as the young Israeli soldier. She had the vulnerability and fierceness that are recognisable from the teenage soldiers that you meet every day in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

The action was also very good, particularly the pyramid of zombies scaling a wall in Jerusalem. The zombies are pretty scary, even for someone like me who isn’t a massive zombie fan. Fast zombies that run everywhere just should not be allowed. They do make for some heart-stopping moments. Tension is kept high for most parts of the film – but particularly in the final sequence set in Cardiff. The slow exploration of a WHO facility while avoiding geeky scientist zombies is nail-biting. I particularly liked one zombie’s chomping action – best scary eating noise since Hannibal Lecter had some fava beans.

Some reviewers have had a lot to say about how the film has catastrophically deviated from the novel and how this has left us with a film that isn’t as intelligent as it should be. This could be true, but what we do have is a great popcorn flick which is well worth a Saturday night viewing. And probably a couple of repeated viewings too.

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