wogma rating: The keen should rent; else TV/online (?) - The really keen could try it on big screen.
Marc Forster's zombiepocalypse World War Z can be fun, if you can overlook the consistent issues in the writing. The film stays watchable because of a continuous stream of scenes that will startle or thrill you, because of Brad Pitt's angsty (if weary) leading man, and because of some decent technical execution.Read more
Director Marc Forster has steadily built up a solid little CV that has a number of watchable, if not really interesting, films. Though not quite in the league of some of his better work -Finding Neverland and Monster's Ball, for example - his latest film, the long-in-production zombie-actioner World War Z, surprisingly doesn't exactly do his filmography much harm either.
World War Z is what you get when Steven Sodherberg's Contagion mates with Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn, with an added dose of serious crack for good measure. An unknown, fast-acting pathogen that affects humans has spawned a deadly horde of zombies that is quickly turning entire cities into vast fields of the undead. Gerry Lane, a retired United Nations field investigator is reluctantly pulled out of a quiet retirement to identify the source of the virus.
Despite the clear attempt to lend an air of credibilty to the zombie genre, which has thus far either been made strictly for fans of the genre or coupled with a comic element, World War Z can crumble under serious examination. It abandons coherence in space and time, takes umpteen liberties with its screenplay and has a singularly unmemorable cast, save for Brad Pitt, who himself looks a little haggard and battle-weary, and not strictly because he single-handedly takes on zombie armies either. Also, and there is no denying this, World War Z is the kind of predictable, done-to-death film that Hollywood is no stranger to.
Still, if World War Z ends up being watchable enough, it is because of a few genuine thrills that the film manages to pack into its runtime, Ben Seresin's breakneck cinematography that manages to create a perceptible sense of atmosphere despite showing evident disdain towards lucidity in close-combat action scenes, and some superbly-executed VFX. Also, even a tired-looking, underwhelming Brad Pitt has goods enough to pack a wallop with his effortless screen presence.
Also, though this could possibly just be the softie in me, for the first time a zombie film had my heart reach out a little bit for the zombies themselves. In fact, considering how seriously the film takes itself, I personally felt it squandered an opportunity to show how zombie-like our own existences have become. After all, a purpose-less, materialistic life is hardly better than the un-life of a zombie; at least zombies have a purpose - infecting humans.
Expectedly, the resolution of the film is as far-fetched as can be. And this is perhaps where Brad Pitt's persona helps the most; you need that kind of presence to overlook how truly incredulous the goings-on actually are. Apart from the last 20 minutes of the film, I really missed the kind of urgency he brought to his character in Babel or the sheer confident cockiness he displayed in Moneyball.
The film is out in 2D as well as 3D, and again, the film would be far better experienced in 2D. The 3D darkens an already dark film, and doesn't really add much in terms of the 'third dimension' anyway. World War Z is really just a film for fans of rugged action and saving-the-world films, the kind of film that the audience should not take too seriously, even if the filmmakers themselves have done so.
This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.
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