Sunday, 6 October 2013

No.208 : World War Z

World War Z at the IMDb
Zombie films are just like the walking corpses they portray - no matter how many you put down plenty more spring up to mine the last few morsels of original concept from the genre.

‘World War Z’ isn’t anything original apart from it having Brad Pitt in the lead and a budget greater than all the Romeros put together.

Brad plays a family man who has retired from his covert military job. He’s on holiday in Glasgow, sorry Philadelphia, when all sorts of trouble kicks off. It’s not immediately apparent what’s happening and I quite liked the confusing reveal of events as that’s how it’d play if you were in that situation. Anyway Brad and family steal an RV and head away from the troubles only to find that the unrest is nationwide.

He gets called up by his former bosses to lead a taskforce to identify and cure the virus that has caused large sections of the population to turn into fast moving and homicidal zombies. He gets a young scientist to help as well as a team of gun totting marines. Alas it goes tits up early on when his genius falls at the first hurdle and none of the answers are found in the chaos that is now Korea.

Not to be disheartened Brad follows some thin leads to Israel where advance warning of the plague allowed them to build a big wall to keep the zombies out - that’ll work. With destruction in his wake Brad heads to Wales where he’s unlikely to cause any noticeable damage. Once there he and Malcolm Tucker try to find a cure that will save humanity.

I thought this was going to be a total turkey and only watched to see what the set dressed Glasgow would look like but it turned out to be half decent. Glasgow only figures in the first five minutes and it was a bit jarring to see George Square next to establishing shots of the Philadelphia skyline - I guess the audiences in Arkansas wouldn't be similarly disturbed though! The action was pretty good with the carnage in George Square only marginally worse than that on a regular Saturday night.

Brad’s family, who figure significantly in the first half hour, are quickly sidelined and that has to be a positive given he has a plain wife and two stage school kids. Once Brad starts trotting the globe the action hots up with the scenes in Jerusalem particularly impressive with the CGI zombies a million times better than those in ‘I am Legend’. It is quite lucky that Brad manages to survive several moments where all around him were killed, including a decent jumbo jet crash - still if I was paying him $20 million I’d look after him too!

The last scenes in the lab are somewhat drawn out and the solution seems a bit pat and ridiculous at the same time. Is the curse worse than the disease - very probably!

Over all the film did feel a bit padded and somewhat disjointed - the three acts were almost like snippets from separate films and although I know the source book was in a diary style it was somewhat uneven. Brad does his usual solid job but got little support from the rest of the cast who were relative unknowns. The zombies were good in the long shots but up close they didn’t seem to do a lot of damage - maybe the blood was toned down for a more favourable certificate? It’s certainly a film you won’t hate but it won’t be toppling the ‘28’ films from the top of the pile either - no matter how many zombies swarm over it.

Best Bit - Gonna Need a Bigger Wall   16/23