World War Z (2013) – Film Review
by Dan Berlinka
Advance reports of escalating budgets, rewrites and re-shoots never fill you with much confidence, but the first half of the movie nonetheless contains some gripping (if not unfamiliar) sequences of mayhem and destruction.
But even though the scale of the zombie attacks is probably bigger than in its predecessors, the actual story they hang off is pretty lifeless – a linear progression between set pieces of varying effectiveness. The mid-point scenes of zombies swarming together to become vast towers of undead provide the film’s most striking images; the actual finale is curiously anti-climactic.
And even though the pace rarely flags (until the end), this is a curiously bloodless affair. Firstly, there’s no gore. Which, incidentally, makes the 15 rating utterly baffling). Secondly, for all the high stakes involved in saving mankind, the narrative is bland and uninvolving. It lacks subtext or variation of tone.
“Calmer moments are stylish”
Brad Pitt’s charisma goes a long way, but still can’t disguise how essentially thin his lead character is – and the same pretty much goes for the fine supporting cast too. Director Forster (Quantum of Solace) generally favours quick cutting and a buffeted camera for the action sequences, and this deliberate disorientation can be frustrating. Particularly as the calmer moments are stylish, yet unfussy in their composition.
I wonder if there’s a better version lying on an edit room floor, or in an earlier draft of the script. As it is, it’s plenty watchable, but for genre savvy fans it can’t help but feel like a missed opportunity.