There is a lot of controversy and speculation about the decision to turn World War Z, the popular book by Max Brooks, into a film. The book, which features a number of short stories, does not necessarily seem to lend itself to be the base of a feature film. I myself had some large reservations walking into the theater, most of which stemmed from the CGI zombies featured in many of the trailers. When the credits rolled at the end of a very well shot and well acted film, every one of my reservations had been resolved.
World War Z gives the audience a terrifying inside look at the start and progression of a zombie apocalypse. Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), his wife Karin Lane (Mireille Enos), and his two kids played by Sterling Jerins and Abigail Hargrove start the film like any other day, with pancakes. The apocalypse hits swiftly, catching the Lane’s by surprise in the center of downtown Philadelphia. While trapped in a traffic jam, the zombies take over the city like a storm, forcing Gerry and his family through a number of terrifying chase scenes. Gerry gets in contact with the people he used to work for, the United Nations, giving his family a safe place to take refuge if Gerry agrees to help try and solve the zombie outbreak. Reluctant to agree but eventually realizing he has to for his family’s safety, Gerry travels around the world in search of answers on how to stop the zombie outbreak, seeing the devastation of the apocalypse and doing anything and everything to survive.
Another point of discussion about this film surfaced around its PG-13 rating as opposed to an R rating that most zombie films would have gotten due to extreme grit and gore. This film was certainly violent but it did not have the overdrawn scenes of zombies ripping people apart or chowing down on intestines and human flesh. While this film seems to be missing some of the key elements that make a zombie film scary, I found it to be one of the most terrifying films I have seen in a while. Not only were the zombies fairly terrifying but the film takes you further into the apocalypse than is comforting. The audience is given an almost first person view of the apocalypse, starting by becoming a member of the Lane family as they desperately try to escape the brutally fast zombies and find a safe place to hide. After that the audience travels with Gerry across the world, seeing the devastation and havoc the zombies have caused worldwide.
Brad Pitt did a great job in this film, as did the rest of his family but one of the best aspects of this film was the quality of the side characters. The only real, main character in the film was Gerry Lane. As he travels around the world he encounters a number of different people that help him and each one is a well written, well crafted and well acted side character. There are a number of great side characters throughout the film but one of the best ones is a young soldier Segen (Daniella Kertesz). Gerry meets Segen in Jerusalem and the two manage to keep each other alive and stick together for the rest of the film.
This was a very well done, well put together film. Director Marc Forster showed the skill that he has with a camera, easily cultivating suspense and washing wave after wave of anxiety over the audience. With the sounds of Muse permeating each new location, this film was extremely well done. While I do understand that some people are apprehensive to see the film for a number of reasons, I would recommend this film and give it a B rating. If you think you can handle it, jump into the center of a zombie apocalypse with World War Z.