Movie Review: World War Z

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A viral outbreak causes the major cities of the world to become overrun by fast zombies, and Brad Pitt is the only man in the world who can stop them.

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Marc Foster, 2014

After the zombie apocalypse hits his home city of Philadelphia and threatens his family, United Nations worker Gerry Lane is enlisted to help find the source of the virus. With the assurance that the UN will provide safety for his wife and daughter on an aircraft carrier, Gerry agrees to escort awesomely-named scientist Andrew Fassbach (Elyes Gabrel) across the globe to find Patient Zero. The search for a cure takes him all over the world, as he survives any number of seemingly inescapable zombie-filled scenarios, including a zombie-filled plane crash, two city invasions, and a pretty neat scene in an abandoned, zombie-infested lab.

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This movie starts with a bang and barely stops to take a break. After a brief introduction to the life of Gerry Lane and his family, we are immediately introduced to a very fast-acting pandemic that takes out the whole city in about a day. It’s all done very efficiently. The rules of the universe are introduced in the first action scene (the zombies are fast, uncaring about their own survival, and destructive; a bitten person turns in twelve seconds), which is tense and exciting; we get our next break when Gerry and his family are rescued, a brief respite before he heads out into the madness once more. There is a somewhat episodic feel to the action as Gerry moves from location to location, being the magical white male survivor he is, but the action scenes are tight and the threat from the zombie hoard is genuinely scary. Marco Beltrami’s score is effective at keeping the movie rolling along, setting a suspenseful and bombastic mood.

There are some good supporting turns from Ruth Negga and Peter Capaldi as nerve-wrecked scientists and Daniella Kertesz as an Israeli soldier. Brad Pitt is fine in action hero mode, but better in action dad mode, which we sadly get to see very little of. After a few good moments (and a few damsel moments) in the beginning, Mireille Enos is put in worried wife mode and is given little else to do for the rest of the film. The tone of the film is uneven, veering between scifi cure quest and gritty survivor story, and the action sequences far outweigh the dodgy science exposition. There are a few unexpected twists, and the movie is fast-paced and moody. The relentless pace can get draining, and there are some dubious plot points that could have easily been improved upon (how Gerry is the guy figuring things out when he’s surrounded by sharper minds can be frustrating), but at least it never gets boring.

World War Z on IMDb

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