Review: World War Z (2013)


Director: Marc Forster | 116 minutes | action, drama, horror, science fiction, thriller | Actors: Brad Pitt, James Badge Dale, Eric West, Mireille Enos, Matthew Fox, David Morse, Elyes Gabel, Michiel Huisman, Julian Seager, David Andrews, Basher Savage, Daniel Newman, Sterling Jerins, Julia Levy Books, Trevor White, Nikola Djuricko, Lee Nicholas Harris, Sarah Sharman, Mustafa Harris, Iván Kamarás, Josh Wingate, Abigail Hargrove, Féodor Atkine

When a puzzling pandemic breaks out in major cities in the United States, the country is in turmoil. So is the Lane family. Father Gerry (Brad Pitt) is a former researcher for the United Nations. His wife Karin (Mireille Enos) is a devoted mother to their two children. When the UN enlists Gerry’s help, the quartet looks for a safe haven from which Gerry can help his country and they end up in one of the few places where the virus has no reach: in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on an aircraft carrier. When ultimately not only the US is affected but the entire Earth is infected, Gerry is sent into the world on a quest to find the origin of the virus and eventually develop a cure. What emerges is a race against time that sends him past South Korea, Israel and Wales. Slowly, there are increasing signs that the virus that has gripped mankind could well be the zombie virus.

The mystery surrounding the zombies is quite ridiculous. The undead move like zombies, they look like zombies and they have exactly that bloodlust that characterizes zombies, yet it turns out to be difficult to call the creature by its name. For example, there are more curious elements to “World War Z”. Gerry’s quest is prompted by the increasing number of puzzle pieces he receives for his information provision. The strange thing is that this information should normally be known to a world power like the US and an institution like the UN anyway. For example, Israel has taken measures against the zombies based on a message sent by India. But why only Israel received that is not clear. The South Korean branch of the United Nations has heard that Israel has started defending its major cities, but the other branches have been kept in the dark. Apparently there are no more transparent international alliances in the World War Z game world. It is mainly a cumbersome way to show Gerry a bit of the world.

“World War Z” was shot in 3D, but the question is what the added value is. There are shots in which deep-focus is used in an appealing way, creating multiple “planes” that tell a story or have meaning for the film. In the opening sequence, for example, there is a shot in which the introduction of the Lane family is positioned in the front of the screen, while in the background a television can be seen introducing the zombie epimedy. The great thing about 3D is that it can be done in a subtle way, without changes in focus and sharpness. Unfortunately, these types of shots are an exception and often only one ‘plane’ is centralized, so that the foreground or background regularly turns into a blurry and flawless mash. In addition, “World War Z” relies a lot on predictable fright effects. Ultimately, the movie and the accompanying action is at its best when it doesn’t get too believable (hand grenades in an airplane!). Because then the brakes can be released and that provides entertaining passages that fit a zombie movie. Unfortunately, scenes like this are rare and the film relies too much on false sentiment and blasé action. “World War Z” mainly remains in line: children do not become zombies, just like the needy of this world. In addition, humanity must not forget to keep an eye on Mother Nature.

Because almost all side characters succumb to the virus, “World War Z” has mainly become the great Brad Pitt and United Nation show. In addition, the film follows just too many common conventions to actually keep it exciting and attractive for a long time and adopts such a moralistic tone that the sparsely successful scenes are far in the shadow of the rest. A missed opportunity.

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