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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
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POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Brad Pitt
Mireille Enos
James Badge Dale
Daniella Kertesz
Matthew Fox
David Morse.
Directors
Marc Forster.
Screenwriters
Running Time
110 minutes

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World War Z
The sprinting dead


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Plot
A sudden outbreak of a zombie plague leaves the globe in tatters. Former UN worker Gerry Lane (Pitt) and his family seek refuge, before Gerry heads off to Asia in search of a cure...


Review
World War Z

When the zombie movie as we know it first twitched into life, it was a niche concern, with budgets to match. An invasion of a farmhouse was fine, a city block just about doable, but anything bigger had to be relayed via a flickering TV or solemn radio transmission. Flash forward several decades and you have World War Z: a huge-budget summer release, starring one of Hollywood's biggest and handsomest names, that sets out to actually show a worldwide assault by the undead. The result is slick, tense and hangs together fine, far from the disaster many predicted during its tortured birthing. But it's also just a little bit bland and generic. In particular, horror fans jonesing for grand-scale carnage are unlikely to come away entirely satisfied.

The bleak book from which it takes its name and loose outline, by Max ‘son of Mel’ Brooks, zips all over the globe, looking at the horror from a range of perspectives. It has smart things to say about geo-politics. It also has some astounding images, like a submarine being overwhelmed by zombies on an ocean floor, or the US army’s Alamo-like stand against millions of the ghouls. Almost none of this has made it into the film. Instead, we travel around with Gerry (Brad Pitt), a family man who once ran UN operations into countries where normal mortals wouldn't survive a night. With military infrastructures in shambles and entire nations gone radio-silent, he alone must trace the source of the outbreak. That’s right — the fate of humanity lies in the hands of a man called Gerry.

World War Z’s opening salvo is terrific. Apocalyptic blockbusters usually take a while to crank up and tease what's coming, but this launches right into it without a single winking R.E.M. song. By the time you’re munching your first fistful of popcorn, an entire city (Philadelphia) is being overrun. Director Marc Forster plays the sequence beautifully, keeping the monsters virtually unseen and making the chaos unnerving in itself. It’s strong stuff. But it also sets the tone for what to expect in terms of gore, or lack of it. This is a movie in which millions of people die, but barely a drop of blood is seen. As for guts, forget it: these zombies — and the word is used regularly — don’t seem to have an appetite.

They're still scary, though, particularly when they’re swarming across the screen like pissed-off army ants. Simon Pegg and other zombie purists are likely to tut up a storm: these reanimated corpses don’t just run, but leap, clamber and power-slide about with inhuman gusto. It’s undeniably effective to see thousands of them descend upon their prey, all the while screeching like velociraptors and chomping their teeth. (The effects are handled well, though the editing is sometimes over-frenetic.) The shame is that, whether for budgetary reasons or to try to keep things more character-based, this type of vast-scale action is limited to a single set-piece, during the film’s mid-point Israel segment. Considering the movie’s title, it would have been nice to see a lot more war.

Instead, the majority of the run-time sees Pitt and an assortment of sidekicks facing down “Zeke” in a familiar array of bunkers, apartment blocks and labs. While it’s all handled with skill and the actors sell the fear, it feels like a slight gyp, especially when the climax of the movie — which was reshot at great expense — is on a smaller scale than the third act of Shaun Of The Dead. There is also more than one slap-your-forehead moment, like the bit where Gerry, a highly trained covert operative, forgets to put his phone on silent while traversing an infected zone. Silly Gerry.

The whole thing feels like a studio dipping its toe in the water: the wrapping-up line, “This isn’t the end... not even close,” makes it clear that there are plans ahoy for further instalments, should there be public appetite. In the meantime, this just about succeeds on its own merits. Few of the characters are memorable (Mireille Enos has the snooziest part as Mrs. Lane, and Matthew Fox barely registers as a paratrooper), but there’s imagery here that’s genuinely horrifying — not least a plane-set sequence which proves that people who fly economy really do suffer the most.
 


Extras

World War Z World War Z
Released: 21 October 2013
Aside from a BD-only eight-minute-longer ‘Unrated’ cut (unavailable to review), it’s a typically slick Laurent Bouzereau-style production, diced into six easy-to-digest, seven-to-ten-minute ‘making of’ chunks
(or only two, if you’re a Blu-ray have-not), throughout which the film’s star and producer, Brad Pitt, is glaringly conspicuous by his absence. As is any recognition of the film’s production trouble. It’s an irksome missed opportunity; there is a great story to be told about turning a seeming disaster into a major success. Instead we get studio-approved gabbing heads conveying plot details we already know and marvelling at how “generous” Brad is as an actor. Nothing, really, to get one’s teeth into.


Verdict
This nightmarish travelogue is coy about gore, but it’s still an effective thrill-ride. If the sequel happens, let’s hope it delivers some actual combat.


Reviewed by Nick de Semlyen

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for World War Z
Empire Star Rating

Erm...

What's with zombies these days? Aren't zombies supposed to be brain dead? If so how come they now run and, perhaps the worst part of the entire film, they have the ability to climb walls. Certainly no match for Romero's class, but then I don't think this was supposed to be taken that seriously anyway...was it? All started pretty darn quickly, a little too quickly, for my liking. And what's with the indestructible Brad Pitt? The only thing that actually saved this for me was the surprising appear... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BennyBoo81 at 11:42, 29 March 2014 | Report This Post


Franchise tendency = Predictable plot points

If Brad Pitt wasn't in this it wouldn't have done so well because for every original moment there are two or three that have been done before. Not to say that this movie doesn't do some of them better, it does in places, but It's like a greatest hits of Zombie movies at times. However, when WWZ is original it's really effective and will knot you up in tension the way you hoped it would. The low-key to high-concept opening is spectacular, the plane sequence is fist-chewingly tense, the Jerusalem ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Nicky C at 14:33, 31 January 2014 | Report This Post


ENJOYABLE.....

This thing isn’t bad. In fact as a piece of bloodless B movie entertainment, it’s rather good. Some nice visual flourishes with hordes of zombies ravaging the streets of Jerusalem - and that zombie attack on the airplane was a master-class of tension and excitement – ( they’re taking over the plane at a thousand feet – how on earth would you escape?). Brad Pitt seemed to be phoning his performance in during some scenes, but handles the action man stuff with aplomb &... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ROTGUT at 17:42, 01 August 2013 | Report This Post


RE: surprisingly decent

I liked the bit where the zombies reenacted Starship Troopers in Valletta, sorry Jerusalem. ... More

Posted by Deviation at 10:13, 12 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: surprisingly decent

All in all, a great time that should be watched in a theater with loud speakers. It's not a revolutionary movie, but it'll get your head turning. 7.8/10 Will Frey ... More

Posted by Will Frey at 18:14, 10 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: World War Z

Was I the only person that was slightly confused as to what happened when Dr "Only-Hope-For-Mankind's" gun went off? Did he slip and accidentally pull the trigger or did he do it deliberately? Either way, me and a bloke at the back of the cinema let out a hearty chuckle when he was pronounced dead. ... More

Posted by V.E.N.O.M at 10:17, 10 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: World War Z

Decent enough and watchable, it's also different to other zombie films. Nothing special but a 3 star film. The family were a bit annoying though... ... More

Posted by galvatron at 16:47, 09 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: World War Z

Demon cleaner nailed it for me. It is a disaster film, it even has about half a dozen 'get this plane off the ground now or we'll all die... Oh no my shoes are stuck in the door!!' moments like in 2012. I did enjoy it though, the cgi zombies where okay and they showed how hard it would be to stop a wave of rushing humans that would filing themselves at anything. As with all zombie (and disaster) films the characters collective stupidity does grate from time to time, like why send two of your be... More

Posted by BigKovacs at 19:24, 08 July 2013 | Report This Post


World War Z

I thought it was pretty great, and I talk a little about the difference between the book and the film, and how they filmed some scenes in my home city (Glasgow), as well as actually reviewing the film. I think you'll like it! Thanks in advance if you do watch! All the best :) ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Lee McMonagle at 15:52, 05 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Solid 3 star movie.

I caught it the other night and though it was okay, certainly not amazing but on the other hand not a total disaster. It's a shame they had such a big budget, cos as already mentioned having a harder edge and being a bit more explicit with the gore might have helped things along. As it was, it was okay though. Would be very interested to see the stuff they cut and the whole Russia Zombie War finale, as that sounds pretty cool. Saving it for the sequel though? ... More

Posted by porntrooper at 14:19, 05 July 2013 | Report This Post


Solid 3 star movie.

Saw this yesterday. I actually really quite enjoyed it - a solid 3 star movie. The production problems did manifest themselves in the way that film was put together somewhat, but they didn't produce a train wreck of a movie. *Highlight for spoiler* = = > ed well in advance that Brad Pitt would have to inject himself with a disease in order to get back to the rest of the group at the W.H.O facilitytherwise the film kept me pretty entertained and engaged throughout the running time. It's... More

Posted by Filmfan 2 at 12:32, 05 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Oh dear.

L: Boyden Pleasantly surprised, thought it was good fun, loved the swarming effect. When I saw Peter Capaldi's silhouette I shouted out TUCKER!!! Just wish he'd gone into one of his The Thick of It swearing rants at Brad. es I thought it was good fun also. Random Fact: Peter Capaldi has won an Oscar don't you know! ... More

Posted by Private Hudson at 01:38, 01 July 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Oh dear.

Pleasantly surprised, thought it was good fun, loved the swarming effect. When I saw Peter Capaldi's silhouette I shouted out TUCKER!!! Just wish he'd gone into one of his The Thick of It swearing rants at Brad. ... More

Posted by Boyden at 14:32, 27 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Oh dear.

Another pretty lousy effort. It only felt like a proper i.e.professionally shot, film in the final third,the fucking camera stopped shaking about and decided to stay still for onceughly amateurish and eye-hurting, for the most part. You could tell where reshoots had happened, though the whole thing seemed thoroughly dumbed down to remove anything interesting or even scary for the PG-13 crowd. And where the hell was the war? Talk about misleading title! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 18:47, 26 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Oh dear.

L: jonson L: Ghidorah I would also like to ask how a Zombie manage to get onto the plane when many if not practically all illegel immigrants either frooze or crushed to death by the wheel. The only other alternative is someone decide to put a zombie into a suitcase and it manage to escape.ote] one was taken up when the wheels were lifted.e for a nice shock moment though as I assumed the person who turned into a zombie (having seen the plane sequence in a trailer) woul... More

Posted by Ghidorah at 15:28, 26 June 2013 | Report This Post


Not bad at all

Given the problems the production had, I was not expecting much. But I was surprised - although a tad too long, it was fast moving and very tense at times with some great images. Some "huh" moments (in the labs they could have used the phones to draw the zombies away) and apparently you can have you wrist sliced off without bood spraying everywhere - but I quite enjoyed this. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bretty at 08:48, 26 June 2013 | Report This Post


Not bad at all

Given the problems the production had, I was not expecting much. But I was surprised - although a tad too long, it was fast moving and very tense at times with some great images. Some "huh" moments (in the labs they could have used the phones to draw the zombies away) and apparently you can have you wrist sliced off without bood spraying everywhere - but I quite enjoyed this. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bretty at 08:48, 26 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Oh dear.

L: Ghidorah I would also like to ask how a Zombie manage to get onto the plane when many if not practically all illegel immigrants either frooze or crushed to death by the wheel. The only other alternative is someone decide to put a zombie into a suitcase and it manage to escape.ote] I think one was taken up when the wheels were lifted. It made for a nice shock moment though as I assumed the person who turned into a zombie (having seen the plane sequence in a trailer) would be ... More

Posted by jonson at 07:51, 26 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Oh dear.

L: Private Hudson harsh crowd on here tonight.like the old days at the Glasgow Empire! I thought it was good. Enjoyable, and so what if there wasn't a lot of gore. Gore doesn't make a good film. Hopefully the sequel will tell us more about how it all came to be. hen I saw WWZ, a random girl sat next to me and spent a lot of time looking at me. I could see her in the corner of my eye turning her head and looking at me. She didn't look at her boyfriend and this pretty much sum up ... More

Posted by Ghidorah at 18:53, 25 June 2013 | Report This Post


DECENT Zombie film!!!

A thrilling epic zombie adaptation!!! The movie starts off normal enough, family man and UN Worker Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is on day out with the kids and wife Karen (Enos) and then abruptly and suddenly in Philadelphia all zombie hell breaks loose,...the opening build up is suberbly crafted. Firstly we the panic ridden new's reports, then flash new bulletins and huge scale panic on the streets. Director Mark Foster put's you right into the centre of it expertly,..as Pitt and Family bare... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ramone87 at 18:41, 25 June 2013 | Report This Post


Studio film making of the very worst kind

Lets take a popular novel with a big following and ditch everything that made that book so interesting, add some big star appeal (Brad Pitt sleepwalks through this), take out any gore, blood, frightening moments, so we can get as many popcorn munchers on seats as possible, put together a string of generic action sequences and voila. My hatred for this holds no bounds. It's not a zombie movie, it's not a horror movie....... It's a piece of putrid dumb action filth that Hollywood shat into th... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blindlemonpie at 03:11, 25 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Oh dear.

Pretty harsh crowd on here tonight. A bit like the old days at the Glasgow Empire! I thought it was good. Enjoyable, and so what if there wasn't a lot of gore. Gore doesn't make a good film. Hopefully the sequel will tell us more about how it all came to be. ... More

Posted by Private Hudson at 22:27, 24 June 2013 | Report This Post


Oh dear.

For an action film, it's not too bad; but for a zombie film it's pretty damned poor. And since it's not called 'World War "A"', but 'World War "Z"'? Well… ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheMightyBlackout at 19:55, 24 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Part 3 of bleedingcritic's review:

Is World War Z the first major blockbuster to take the Zombie genre into a realistic tone? It pretend to but sadly this is more farfetch than Versus. The film is about Americans unaware there is a Zombie virus spreading through Asia in the past ten days. Somehow the Zombies managed to reached all corners of America and started spreading like crazy. The problem is this Zombie virus is nothing like we seen before. The zombie bites the victim once and move onto the next target. The victim has... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ghidorah at 18:32, 24 June 2013 | Report This Post


Part 3 of bleedingcritic's review:

...But that's the only positive thing about this film. Brad Pitt is perfect financial bait to get a project like this off the ground and he's also one of its producers. I so wanted this to work and even Brad Pitt fans are going to be disappointed. Some of you may remember a sketch many years ago where an impersonation was made of the actor Charles Bronson, the impression demonstrated Charles being angry, sad and in love...and the funniest thing was that the impersonators face never chang... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bleedingcritic at 16:25, 24 June 2013 | Report This Post


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