There has never been a zombie film like this. Despite the masses of zombie films that plague the screens, like Shaun of the Dead and 28 Days Later, World War Z manages to stand out as one of the most chilling zombie films around, and all without the buckets of blood and hours spent applying zombie make-up. No, this film will silence those who watch it through its nail-biting tension, the epic scale of its setting, and by the fact that, should a zombie-apocalypse ever occur for real, this is probably exactly how it would all go down.
Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), a retired United Nations employee, is sitting in traffic with his family, listening to a report on a ‘rabies’ pandemic. The next thing he knows, a truck crashes through the road, and hoards of people start screaming and running for their life, being pursued by zombies. Gerry and his family get to safety, and Gerry is called in by his old colleague, Thierry (Fana Mokoena), who sends a helicopter to extract them. Upon arriving on the U.S. Navy ship where Thierry is, Gerry is sent out to find the source of the zombie disease, so that a cure can be developed. In return, Thierry will keep his family safe. And so begins an epic journey for Gerry, as he travels to South Korea and Jerusalem, all the while worrying about his family.
The action of this film is phenomenal. The sheer number of zombies is enough to make anyone gape, and then watching Brad Pitt trying to survive attack after attack, while around him cities fall and people die and missiles explode, is both overwhelming and tense. However, the awesomeness of all of this is diluted enormously by the sickeningly perfect family-life which Gerry has. At the start of the film, every other scene involves some way of showing how much they all love each other, and all Gerry’s wife, Karin (Mireille Enos), seems to do is smother her children and slow the plot down. Gerry and Karin must be the biggest mollycoddlers I have ever seen on the big screen. Director, Marc Forster, probably intended all of this to be wonderful so that Gerry going off to danger will seem more tragic, but really it only comes across as annoying.
Thankfully, not all the women in this film are sulky and motherly. Daniella Kertesz, who plays an Israeli soldier, assists Gerry when he arrives in Jerusalem, and is an active part in the film’s best scenes. She cries less when her hand is cut off than Karin does when Gerry hangs up on her. James Badge Dale also portrays an instantly likable character, whose lines provide the only amusement in the film. Of course, Brad Pitt is the real star of the film. As he dominates most of the screen-time, this seems inevitable, really. He plays his character well, making him someone that the audience wants to see survive. In the climax of the film, he will make you want to rise out of your seat and cheer for him.
Another positive thing about this film are the zombies themselves. They start out as cloudy-eyed angry-looking people, but then progress to the zombies we are used to seeing, with greying skin and unnerving gazes. The fact that the zombie virus is unstoppable is portrayed originally, with scenes such as the zombies pouring down streets like water and forming twitching ladder piles to scale a wall, creating a new, terrifying edge to how we are used to perceiving the undead.
So if you like zombie films, go and see World War Z. If you like seeing things blow up, go and see it. If you like Brad Pitt, definitely go and see it. And even if you don’t like zombie films, then still go and see it. As a film which contains the key elements of zombies, but none of the gore which people associate with them, it will be enjoyed by all. I dare you to see it without jumping at least once, though.
World War Z (2013), directed by Marc Forster, is released in the UK by Paramount Pictures, certificate 15. Watch the trailer below.