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World War Z (2013)
Ironically, Brooks is the son of comedic TV, film and stage impresario Mel Brooks. World War Z might be a lot of things, but it's not a knock-off of his father's hilariously oddball Young Frankenstein (1974). As for Marc Forster, he's probably best known for directing Oscar noms Monster's Ball (2001) and The Kite Runner (2007), as well as the James Bond actioner, Quantum of Solace (2008).
Hard core fans of zombie movies will likely notice a range of similarities in World War Z to the likes of George A. Romero's ground breaking cult classic Night of the Living Dead (1968), and of Danny Boyle's exceptional genre redefining 28 Days Later... (2002). You see the doomed, stripped down desperation of the former and, well, the lightning fast, infected undead from the latter. Fuelled by those strengths, World War Z is also the first horror flick I remember screening where an audience truly gets a sense this terror is affecting Earth's entire population. Awesome.
What's also awesome are the special effects that predominantly show the zombies as a horrifyingly unending swarm of bodies rabidly piling over each other towards their targeted prey. Check 'em out in the trailer. From a distance, they're like frenzied piranha with legs, cranked up on Red Bull. Running from them rivals what's seen annually in Pamplona.
Sadly, these zombies also bring a couple of problems for horror fans. First of all, they're not blood thirsty brain-eaters expected from this genre. These World War Z zombies merely serve to spread the zombie contagion, making it tough to actually consider this to be a zombie movie at all. In addition to that, up close, these zombies are unintentionally hilarious. In one slightly drawn out scene, a windowed door is all that stands between Pitt and a persistently bitey zombie. It's nearly impossible to avoid laughing out loud at this zombie, played by Michael Jenn, as it toothily gnashes and gnaws at Pitt through the glass. Hee hee, Mr. Bitey is so bitey.
Back on the plus side without lurching too much further into spoiler territory, Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard and Damon Lindelof's screenplay delivers a wonderfully subversive thread that underpins this feature throughout. Every sensible thing that's supposed to go right fails. You also see that subversive quality in how one country ingeniously responds to the threat of zombie bites spreading the virus. And, you see it later on, when the zombies' weakness is finally used against them in an unthinkably clever manner. That aspect of this story is astounding.
Top marks also go to Pitt for effortlessly personifying such an unassuming everyman anti-hero in this starring role. There were a couple of moments here where it actually seemed as though his Gerry Lane character wasn't going to survive, even though it's Hollywood golden boy Brad Pitt up there continually dodging that nasty horde of chomp-happy corpses on the big screen. Notable as well are the underplayed but compelling performances by the small supporting cast that includes Mireille Enos as Lane's wife Karin, Daniella Kertesz as tough Israeli soldier Segen, Fana Mokoena as Lane's stateside contact Thierry Umutoni, and David Morse as ex-CIA agent Burt Reynolds.
Along with the film's synopsis, cast and crew bios, and photo and video galleries, the official website also serves up soundtrack snippets and links to the mobile game for sale on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon US, and movie merchandise in stock at the Paramount Pictures online store. All in all, it's not a particularly impressive site for a nearly perfect $190 million horror film. As for the official posters from BLT Communications depicting Pitt on his knees surveying a razed city from either a rooftop or helicopter, there's not much there to get excited about. The much simpler, high contrast teaser showing zombies swarming a chopper in mid-air is a definite eye-catching fave.
More a plague picture than a faithful zombie gore fest, World War Z is still a great dramatic ride over-all that's rife with light horror thrills, a cleverly subversive slant and a few unintentional laughs well worth checking out for a fun fright night at the movies. Reviewed 06/13, © Stephen Bourne.
World War Z is rated 14A by the
Ontario Film Review Board, citing occasional gory/grotesque images,
use of expletives, occasional upsetting or disturbing scenes,
embracing and kissing, and violent acts shown in clear, unequivocal
and realistic detail with blood and tissue damage, and is rated
13+ by la Régie du Cinéma in Québec.
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