Film Review: World War Z


World War Z offers carnage on a large scale. While it certainly looks the part, unfortunately the narrative does not live up to the spectacle.

Former United Nations employee Gerry Lane lives with his young family in  the United States. When a global pandemic hits, the cause appears to be zombies. Gerry travels across the world to try and stop the destruction of the human race…

World War Z is a zombie film, but it is not really a horror film. It is more of a disaster movie, with the cause of the apocalypse (or near-apocalypse) being zombies. World War Z mirrors other disaster films with its large-scale catastrophes and reluctant hero.

The film eschews the collective style of its source material, Max Brooks’ novel of the same name, choosing instead to concentrate on a single protagonist. It is unclear what qualifies Gerry Lane to be the UN’s number one guy for a pandemic such as this, other than the fact that he used to work for the organisation. In drawing Gerry as a family man who takes on an enormous task to ultimately protect his loved ones, it is clear that the filmmakers are trying to paint the protagonist as a relatable hero. Unfortunately however, concentrating on this character reduces the story into a one-man-saving-the-world narrative rather than anything more interesting or complex than this.

The premise is an engaging one to begin with. Nevertheless, as the film progresses, the narrative fails to offer anything more than grand set pieces with little for audiences to get their teeth into in between. World War Z really stumbles in its final third. The ending is a nice tense scene, but really anticlimactic considering what has come before.

Brad Pitt offers a good performance as Gerry. Gore in the film, considering the antagonists are zombies, is restrained. Given the 12A rating, this is not wholly surprising. Special effects are decent though.

World War Z could have delved into the some of the themes of the novel, but chooses instead to concentrate on emulating an epic disaster blockbuster. It is a poorer film for this.