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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

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.
 


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

Part 2 of bleedingcritic's review:

...Brad Pitt has his on screen family complete with whimpering wife and very irritating children, yes all of them. Lesson one. Ditch the family, it's too predictable, or if you insist - have them all killed within the first 20 minutes. This would have given this experience a sense of the serious. Whenever a Hollywood star is cast in a story like this, the starring actor always has their family that they are trying to save, or trying to find. For example it was done before by Tom Cruise in War o... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bleedingcritic at 16:23, 24 June 2013 | Report This Post


Brad Pitt acts like he's just on a bad vacation.

When I saw the trailer for this film I was excited, it went straight to the top of my radar of must see films. All the marketing hit the right tone, as expected the Trailer gave too much away and that's unfortunately the norm these days. You can watch me talk about Trailers on my you tube channel. I watched the 3D version just now, and to be honest 3D can make some of the action scenes blurry, I noticed the same when I watched another 3D film just 6 days ago. The film 3D prints seems slightly da... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bleedingcritic at 16:21, 24 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: surprisingly decent

Quite an epic moment in the Jonson household as my entire family had our first zombie film cinema visit. A proud moment for me indeed, I can't wait to make them trawl through all the Romero films now ctually I was expecting an absolute stinker but was relatively surprised. I love the book, adore it in fact, but had happily accepted it would play no part in the film at all. Some great action, despite the fact I've seen the trailer 30 times, the initial outbreak with Pitt and family trying to esc... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jonson at 07:37, 24 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: surprisingly decent

I actually quite enjoyed it. Even better as one of the crowd who went tonight was actually IN the movie (an extra in Philadelphia!). I read that alternative ending and thought that would be rubbish. I think it worked fine. I thought it was going to be pants due to the massive budget and Marc Foster being in charge (QoS is surely the worst Bond movie ever) but it was exciting and interesting. Okay so we never got to find out more about how it really started, but perhaps there will be m... More

Posted by Private Hudson at 01:18, 24 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: surprisingly decent

It's a bit far-fetched isn't it. I mean the undead I can totally believe in, but the US Israel heeding the UN? That's snickersome. (Just a wee bit of Sunday night satire for you there). Seriously though I think Empire's 3 stars is accurate. Good set-pieces but it doesn't aim for a tone or a distinct atmosphere that I think is so important in yer normal zombie apocalypse film. I understand it's not a horror but I think the material provides oodles of license to be a bit more lurid in ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by demoncleaner at 23:54, 23 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: surprisingly decent

I kind of enjoyed it in spite of itself. As an adaptation of the book it's lousy, and I'm really not a fan of the super-fast, CGI zombie, but I can't deny it's quite entertaining. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Whistler at 23:53, 23 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: surprisingly decent

This seems to explain the Matthew Foxx business (apologies if you guys have already read this). http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/notyetamovie/new s/?a=82090 ... More

Posted by Hood_Man at 23:25, 23 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: surprisingly decent

I just saw this now, I enjoyed it. My favourite moment by far was when Malcolm Tucker was watching the zombie horde sprinting toward Brad Pitt on the CCTV, and yelled down the intercom "You startled the witch!" ... More

Posted by Hood_Man at 20:59, 23 June 2013 | Report This Post


surprisingly decent

After the best press this movie was getting about a month ago, my expectations had dipped massively. But this was solid. In fact, better than Man of Steel - which after two screenings, really shows its flaws. I would say that MoS is more accurately a 3-star film, this, 4 ish. The final act is absolutely fine. It's small-scaleness works well. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 19:55, 23 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: An enjoyable cgi night out

Morse was a terrible part. I hate saying it, because I admire him so much as an actor, but there was nothing he could do with that ridiculously lousy exposition (the worst part of the film, almost) and that silly attempt to do some kind of Silence of the Lambs set-up talking to him. Ludicrous. ... More

Posted by elab49 at 12:25, 23 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: An enjoyable cgi night out

L: elab49 L: Qwerty Norris L: elab49 Ah good. John Gordon Sinclair was a Seal too? Where?! e was the dude that went outside the plane to fix the fuel pipe when they were in Korea...and obviously never came back. hank you! Did not recognise him at all ote] Not quite the same for me. The moment I saw him I almost yelled out y!" L: elab49 L: sjmlondon And finally what was Malcolm Tucker doing in a welsh path lab? orchwood. ote] ... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 12:22, 23 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: World War Z

L: paulyboy L: elab49 Also Warm Bodies - I didn't watch that, but perhaps you might have a better idea how the zombie scenes were shot? If so, did they keep everything 'zomebie' offscreen?arm Bodies actually had quite a bit more gore, certainly more show onscreen than WWZ, but the overall tone was far more playful, so I guess it allows them to be a little more slack with the reigns. h - I'd not considered tone. I'd a vague impression from a trailer but nothing more. And BBFC... More

Posted by elab49 at 10:53, 23 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: World War Z

L: elab49 The reading on US PG-13 is about the same as a 15 here though - they jump straight to 17 then 18 at that, with no intermediate. Our rating seems to be based on the sustained threat level but their system is fairly baffling - what they OK for 13yos in the cinema compared to thinks like their drinking age limits seems a bit out of whack in terms of how they view maturity. A major thing with the US is, oddly, language and I think you can see where that's been unrealistically ton... More

Posted by paulyboy at 10:43, 23 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: World War Z

L: paulyboy L: elab49 It's a 15. And even at a 15 they could have had a bit more blood than they included I think. /quote] I know it's a 15 here and could get away with a whole heap more violence, but it's a PG-13 stateside and designed to be as such, the certificate it gets here is largely irrelevant, it's still the same film. he reading on US PG-13 is about the same as a 15 here though - they jump straight to 17 then 18 at that, with no intermediate. Our rating seems ... More

Posted by elab49 at 09:57, 23 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: World War Z

L: elab49 It's a 15. And even at a 15 they could have had a bit more blood than they included I think. /quote] I know it's a 15 here and could get away with a whole heap more violence, but it's a PG-13 stateside and designed to be as such, the certificate it gets here is largely irrelevant, it's still the same film. ... More

Posted by paulyboy at 00:53, 23 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: World War ZZZ

L: sjmlondon And finally what was Malcolm Tucker doing in a welsh path lab? orchwood. ... More

Posted by elab49 at 00:31, 23 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: World War Z

L: paulyboy Pleasant surprise overall, the odd character does a stupid thing here and there (zombie films are always prone to this!) and the CGI is a tad dodgy occasionally, but beyond that I really enjoyed it. It's edited to within an inch of it's like to secure therbut that leads to some surprisingly effective moments at times, particularly during the opening outbreak in Philadelphia, where the brief flashes of carnage hint at something more sinister. So yeah, colour me sur... More

Posted by elab49 at 00:30, 23 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: An enjoyable cgi night out

L: Qwerty Norris L: elab49 Ah good. John Gordon Sinclair was a Seal too? Where?! e was the dude that went outside the plane to fix the fuel pipe when they were in Korea...and obviously never came back. hank you! Did not recognise him at all ... More

Posted by elab49 at 00:28, 23 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: World War Z

Pleasant surprise overall, the odd character does a stupid thing here and there (zombie films are always prone to this!) and the CGI is a tad dodgy occasionally, but beyond that I really enjoyed it. It's edited to within an inch of it's like to secure the PG-13 rating, but that leads to some surprisingly effective moments at times, particularly during the opening outbreak in Philadelphia, where the brief flashes of carnage hint at something more sinister. So yeah, colour me surprised,... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by paulyboy at 00:16, 23 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: An enjoyable cgi night out

L: elab49 Ah good. John Gordon Sinclair was a Seal too? Where?! e was the dude that went outside the plane to fix the fuel pipe when they were in Korea...and obviously never came back. ... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 23:47, 22 June 2013 | Report This Post


world war zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

its ok but so is a good nights sleep. ok to watch if your after a drug free sedative.... enjoy....... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by HERMES_67 at 22:02, 22 June 2013 | Report This Post


OK...But with reservations.

I went to see this yesterday, and overall I enjoyed it - It certainly isnt a bad film. However, I did feel after coming out that there was a far better film trying to get out somewhere, and it wasnt as good as it could have been. Some of the editing was shocking to be honest - The amount of cuts and edits at times was ridiculous - At one point I registered that not a single shot lasted longer than a second, and it wasnt even an action sequence! I almost clapped when we got a shot that lasted ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by axeman at 21:50, 22 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: World War ZZZ

I tend to have a problem with Marc Forster as he ruined a film that I was so looking forward to(quantum of solace)with his editing and from previous posts it looks like the same might have happened here,I will watch World War Z tomorrow,but with a touch of trepidation,you don't have to bombard people with multiple camera angles in a very short period of time. In Forsters defence he did also direct one of my favourite films in Stranger Than Fiction ... More

Posted by edwar233 at 21:36, 22 June 2013 | Report This Post


World War ZZZ

FYI . It was rated 15 at cinema yesterday. It's alright, some of the action scenes are quite thrilling, but you feel some of it was reshot on a much lower budget ie the final third, or on different equipment giving the film a different look in place. I do wonder where some of the 200 million was spent and how much extra footage is just sitting there on the cutting room floor as it went through various edits. And finally what was Malcolm Tucker doing in a welsh path lab? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by sjmlondon at 14:26, 22 June 2013 | Report This Post


RE: An enjoyable cgi night out

Ah good. I not only had no idea Matthew Fox was in it (thereby ratcheting down the talent pool several notches) but apparently John Gordon Sinclair was a Seal too? Where?! Although unrecognisability was the order of the day (James Badge Dale lost the hairdo - pity Pitt didn't). One of the things I'd probably disagree with is more to do with comments on the book - Brooks seemed a little naive about some of his geopolitics tbh but I applauded the attempt to make it international. I di... More

Posted by elab49 at 11:14, 22 June 2013 | Report This Post


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