Review: World War Zed, or is it Zee?

world war z

Brad’s 2013 world tour gets bumpy, but it  isn’t the Pitts…

You know how most doomsday films build and build to their apocalyptic end? Well, World War Z kind of doesn’t.

After a brief morning family start up, we’re quickly stuck in the traffic of downtown Philadelphia when it all starts going badly wrong. It’s a frantic opening after a hinting title sequence that works remarkably well against the normal progressive introduction. The beginning of the end arrives quickly and so begins one of many scintillating global great escapes.

We witness the end through the eyes of Brad Pitt’s former UN man in the field, Gerry Lane, now spending more time with his family after having some thinly implied anxiety issues. What that end is slowly becomes apparent but the Zed, Zee or whatever in the title is a pretty big clue.


So, another (Z)ombie apocalypse? Well…yes, but a welcome one that holds close to its global intention with some originality rather than the usual insularly set and out looking America versus/saves the world.  Here ‘The West’ seems as powerless as the rest as Lane scrambles to find a source for the all the mayhem and hopefully a cure to cancel the apocalypse.

An amount of realism and grounding is achieved by setting most of the action in some of the lesser seen movie nations of the world predominantly from Lane’s eye view, bringing some superb moments that make brilliant use of historic landmarks, Jerusalem’s walled city gives rise to the best ‘Zombie ladder’ you are ever likely to see.

While achieving a relative sense of realism with gritty direction and settings, the use of “the undead” and “zombies” to describe the developing plague spreaders seems clunky when thrown in to an otherwise believable premise which while predictable, portrays an end that is set within the plausible realm of natural order and mother nature’s wrath. Elyes Gabel’s pathologist’s “serial killing Mother Nature” statement though seems a ridiculous analogy while conveniently giving Lane his first later clue.

While Pitt’s world tour continues scaling out director Marc Forster’s wider world vision we continue to get to see some of the best Zombie action to date aided by much better realised CG masses, far removed from the comparably terrible crowd scenes of I am Legend. Massive Zombie packs flow like locusts over walls and overturned buses.

Scale and speed is Forster’s niche as his headache inducing action edits in Quantum of Solace attest. Appearing to only have one cut speed though – ludicrous speed, serves WWZ’s frantic spectacle well; aerial shots give a great sense of city wide devastation as citizens flee from the spritely footed walking dead; It’s a spectacular means to an action end, and The End but loyalists to the slower, blood hungry type biters may question the physical capabilities of Forster’s sprinting and jumping varieties.

Some implausibility sets in and the early intimacy wains aside Brad’s globetrotting, but it’s no busman’s holiday. Leaving the family behind in the resolute hands of wife Mirielle Enos, the significance of the early effective family bond and genuine care surrenders to a glut of Zombie fodder action.

More stoic than heroic, Pitt’s central unchallenging performance lacks any great emotion, Lane’s skills and damaged psyche remain largely unrevealed and it’s hard to gauge what his actual role is other than the eyes on, and megastar within the chaos; he leads an implausibly charmed existence too, narrowly and frequently avoiding capitulation, seemingly imperishable to anything the Zombie horde can dish out. After several escapes it’s obvious the star is going to stick around a while, in turn taking away a sense of genuine danger, especially when close encounters lack a bloody punch; Gore, what gore? Pitt does well enough though in what is a largely un-testing one man show in a cast of thousands.

Within that cast is the blink and you will miss it appearance of Matthew Fox, the once would be next big thing seems to have Lost his way or fallen foul of numerous edits and rewrites, if much of Jack’s input still sits on the cutting room floor along with other surplus clippings then WWZ still manages to conquer many of its well documented troubles and revisits; an isolated finale may well be a product of revisions (I dunno?) when feeling dissimilar to proceedings but it certainly injects (literally) a welcome slower pace and some much needed up close tension.

But WWZ still excels best in its chaotic Zombie action and as a feast for the apocalyptic viewing eye it’s a satisfying spectacle.

new 3 star

48 responses to “Review: World War Zed, or is it Zee?

  1. This was not as nearly as terrible as I thought it was going to be. I don’t think I could give this film more than a pretty good and worth checking out. However, forcing this film to adhere to a PG-13 rating was a mistake IMO.

    • I agree, it would have got to 4 stars with a bit of blood IMO too, would have felt scarier even though I’m not the biggest fan of gore, but here it was needed, I agree. I too thought it was going to be terrible when I heard all the issues but it turned out okay. Thanks Jedi.

  2. Great review Kev. Really want to see this. Am currently listening to the audio book to + from work each day. It’s brilliant (written by Mel brooks’s son) but I hear the film is nothing like it

    • Hey Ged, nice to have you on board! I was going to buy the book too, film is good but I heard too that it isn’t anything like the book so I will likely read it to find out.

  3. Good review. A lot better than I expected, in terms of setting and atmosphere, but the characters and humanity could have been a hell of a lot better.

    • I agree and who would have thought we would be saying it was better than we hoped. It started off well in terms of humanity but it focused on the Zombie eye candy when at times it needed to build something else. enjoyable none the less. Thanks man!

    • do so, I have only taken one view of it so far but I have a feeling it will be regarded as a good Zombie entry. Turned out to be much better than expected given its worrying pre release hiccups. Thanks CK!

  4. “implausibility sets in and the early intimacy wains” You can say that again. LOL. 🙄 It wasn’t as terrible as I feared it might be, but it certainly wasn’t great, either. “Pitt’s central unchallenging performance lacks any great emotion,” is totally true, too. 😦

    • Very true my friend, it was in real danger of being awful prior to release but I liked it too when I feared for it. It just didn’t seem totally sure what to do at times. Pitts character was neither one thing or the other I only connected with the star rather than the character cos I like Pitt so much. Thanks fogs.

    • My expectations were go in see some zombies look awesome and make crazy zombie wall ladders but I got more than that hooray! Much better than I thought it would be. So yeah go in there with little expectation and you will enjoy it! Thanks man!

  5. I actually really enjoyed this. I judge most films on the basis of did I get bored or not and I definitely didn’t. My husband, who is a massive fan of the book, hated every second of it.

    • Yeah I am hearing a lot about that a friend of mine is reading it now and he said the same been meaning to read it myself. A good yard stick that, bored or not simple but very effective!

      • I have read the book and I an agree that it is vastly different. The film is really more vaguely inspired by the book than based on. It’s my husband’s favourite book though and he’s read it about 20 times. I think he expected a proper interpretation.

      • I feel his pain, we invest so much more in a book, its takes time and imagination. nothing worse when a movie ruins it. as a movie the chosen story is good enough, but it’s real tough on your hubby if it is nothing like the book.

  6. I give WWZ major props for adhering to a PG-13 rating and still being kickass. Young teens love zombies, but they don’t get to see zombie movies in theaters. Now they can! Plus, it was able to freak the hell out of me without cheating and showing me the blood and guts. That’s the easy way out. And I felt the same way about the anti-climactic ending, but this is rumored to be just the first of a WWZ trilogy, which would explain the soft ending. I’m excited, needless to say. Nice review!

    • yeh good point but it took some terror away for an adult audience but you got to reach all demographics. I normally never promote gore for the same reasons as you my friend, gore is often like cheating. I liked the ended but it did feel alien to the rest of the movie. A second movie has been given the go ahead i understand so it’s Zombie game on! yessssss!!! Thanks Logan!

    • yeh, The Walking Dead it is not. entertaining nonetheless. Thanks Tyson. Just for your info too whenever your posts go on twitter I cant seem to link to them from my kindle. I wonder if it does the same for others too which maybe losing you some viewers on android; I dunno but it’s worth you knowing?

      • Weird. You mean it just wont load the link up? Does my site still load on there? And do your links load on your kindle? Just weird why my link wouldnt, all hosted by the same people in theory. Thanks for the heads up buddy.

      • the link doesn’t load. all my other links work on my kindle, yours is the only one I encounter any issue with. Just thought you might want to know, it could just be me but I can’t see why it would be unique. I dont think it would cost you many views, but every little helps.

      • Hmmmm…….not sure what I can do about it. My brother in law couldnt load it on his Kindle Fire. I asked the mods and they loaded it up perfectly. They say I have no issues so I’m stuck really. Thanks again though mate, I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled on this one.

  7. As far as “running zombie” movies go, I’m gonna have to stick with ’28 Days Later,’ as its script and direction had a harrowing sense of sheer terror and emotion that WWZ seemed to lack. My biggest problem with this one is that Pitt’s character seemed mostly bland and uninteresting, and the story’s set-pieces seemed largely disjointed without building to any sort of climax.

    With that said, I agree with you on the impressive cinematography in the hoard set-pieces, particularly in the Israel scene. I just wish they had stuck just a liiiiittle bit more blood ‘n guts (I can’t believe I’m saying that) to add to the level of realism. A lot of the violence seemed distractingly tame, as it was clear the film-makers were trying to stick to a PG13 rating.

    • running zombies – sounds crazy doesn’t it ha! WWZ lacked emotion overall and sheer terror I agree but it was decent and enjoyable. totally agree on the gore things, made it feel sterile. I am not a gore fan really but I think this needed it. It’s clear its aiming for all demographics and by doing the 15 rating (UK) it will create a new audience generation. much better than I expected so for that I am grateful because it was starting to smell undead before it even got released. Thanks Predator!

  8. I fancy this one man. I’ve been wanting to see it after watching them film some scenes in Glasgow just over a year ago. Nice review as always, sir!

  9. Nice one Mark I liked it, Glasgow seems to be the world filming capital at the mo, need to get up there, Edinburgh seems cool too. Done some of the Hebrides but none of the cities.

    • i thought that way too, really had a feeling it was going to be terrible but zombies always draw me in, so i took a punt on it and was rewarded. cool zombie ladder!

  10. I missed the screening of this last month but all the positive reviews makes me wish I hadn’t. Ah well, I’ll be renting it when it comes out though.

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