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article imageReview: 'World War Z' is light on the zombies Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jun 21, 2013 in Entertainment
‘World War Z’ is about the struggle of a United Nations employee to stop a global pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to decimate humanity.
The suggestion that the living dead may one day roam the Earth used to be no more than a joke or metaphor for more realistic societal issues (see George A. Romero's many interpretations). But as the genre becomes more prevalent, so too does the concept of preparedness – for anything. Even emergency responders are using the zombie outbreak in simulation exercises. So what happens to a world with such a dense populace when an aggressive infection takes root? World War Z.
Gerry (Brad Pitt) was an elite U.N. investigator who got off the fast track to spend more time with his wife (Mireille Enos) and daughters (Abigail Hargrove and Sterling Jerins). But when cities begin to devolve into lawless chaos and people everywhere are attacking each other without provocation, his expertise becomes a valuable asset that quickly takes his family out of harm's way. He, on the other hand, is asked to escort a scientist across the ocean to uncover the source of the epidemic. But every door reveals a brick wall and hope for mankind is quickly fading.
While World War Z is based on Max Brooks' novel of the same name, the film has little in common with his oral history. One of the main reasons can likely be attributed to Hollywood's inability to market such a bleak story to a mass audience. Therefore the movie borrows some key ideas from the book and in a sense re-imagines history to make the tale its own, jumping into an already out of control situation and moving the outbreak forward much faster in comparison. The key concept is that “mother nature is a serial killer,” but there’s always a weakness to capitalize on. The result is sanitized, but surprisingly entertaining; especially considering the widely publicized production issues that included weeks of complex reshoots and rewrites.
Untitled
Paramount Pictures
The zombies are fast and not terribly grotesque – or very hungry for that matter, since most of them appear to just bite and move on to the next victim. Still, there are some impressive CGI creations of hordes of the undead clamouring together to reach their prey. Meanwhile, the living characters spend much of their time hiding, running or aiming for the creatures' heads. Nonetheless, they manage to squeeze in a relatively comprehensive narrative that spans the globe and captures viewers' attention for the full two hours. Although it would have had an easier time doing so without the 3D, which adds nothing to the experience.
Pitt is comfortable in Gerry's skin. He never overreacts during stressful events, maintaining an understated intensity that implies he's always reading the situation and is ready with an alternative course of action should the need arise. Daniella Kertesz (Segen) is his equal on all levels, matching his performance on screen and instilling her character with thoughtful precision. Though his role is small, Pierfrancesco Favino (W.H.O. doctor) makes an impression as well.
As the conclusion demonstrates, this isn't a hard-core zombie picture. But it's passable by even those standards, using the ticking clock action to balance the lack of traditional gore. And there’s always hope for a more faithful adaptation in the future.
Director: Marc Forster
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos and Daniella Kertesz
Originally appeared on mrwillwong.com.
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