First things first, I’m a zombie enthusiast. Don’t be mistaken though, I don’t love zombies, I just know how to deal with them and what my plan is going to be when the inevitable happens.
From watching Tom Savini’s remake of The Night of the Living Dead when I was 13, I’ve been almost obsessed by the genre in both movie and game form.
I know you’ve not opened this to read my life story though, and whilst I don’t want to come across as apologetic, it’s important because I’m giving World War Z high marks. You see, I’m speaking from experience.
Don’t get me wrong, it does have its problems. The thing with Max Brook’s literature is that it’s very real. He goes into minute detail for everything from Sociology to the military and weaponry. His books really are a brilliant read but translating a book like World War Z to the big screen was always going to be difficult.
Whilst the movie doesn’t take a whole lot from the literature, it still does it’s best to keep things as real as possible, especially with lead character, Gerry.
As a movie, it has a very Bourne feel to it. Gerry’s investigation is played out at breakneck speed and the action never really stops. The comparison doesn’t stop there though. Gerry also has the resourcefulness of Jason Bourne and it’s these elements that make things believable.
The two best examples of this come fairly early on when our family is holed up in an apartment room. The taping of a knife to a rifle and the strapping of thick magazines to Gerry’s arms are things that we wouldn’t have thought about before but when they happen, it’s the most obvious thing in the world.
While these points put Gerry’s skills and knowledge in the limelight, it’s also this area that provides the films weakest moments. For a man that can think on his feet and use his surroundings to defend himself, Gerry makes some rookie mistakes.
Firstly, when the family is making their escape to the roof, Gerry knocks a zombie to the floor. Instead of using the knife to finish him off though, he shoots him, alerting everyone and their Nan’s cat to their location.
Secondly, when they go to refill the plane in South Korea, we all get the picture that the guys need a bit of quiet to get it done. I mean, who needs to be fighting the undead when you’re refilling a fuel tank? Women always say men can’t multitask so let’s try to do things one at a time yea?
Oh, there’s Gerry’s phone, not set to silent, going off and getting half of his team mates killed. School boy error! But why his wife would risk calling him in the first place is a bit stupid. Did she constantly call him when he was on the ground in the Liberian Civil War? I doubt it.
Talking about Karin, where on earth did she get the flares? They only looted a supermarket and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a flare in the seasonal aisle in Tesco.
Mireille Enos isn’t done any favours in general though. She does her best with a character that doesn’t have any real point other than being Gerry’s wife. She puts up no fight when they’re being removed from the ship and has no sparkling dialogue to run with. Her relationship with Gerry has no chemistry either and if she’d got bitten and turned, it’d feel really out of place for Gerry to show any emotion. The relationship with his kids is mildly better but it’s lukewarm nonetheless.
Those things aside, World War Z is up there with my favourites in the genre. They got the zombies spot on and you feel genuine fear of them, something that’s started to lack in things like The Walking Dead.
You can also physically see Gerry analyse and you’re learning with him as the investigation unfolds. From counting how long it takes infected to turn to piecing together what he’s seen and what he’s been told, it just works really well.
The scene stealer is of course, Israel. It’s simply spectacular and it comes after a story in the book that’s set before the wall goes up. To see it finished and on screen is a real treat and the eventual collapse is breathtaking.
Finally, living in Cardiff, I’ve never been in a cinema where the whole crowd whooped and cheered but when the Belarusian pilot declared that they were going to Cardiff Airport, everyone lost their minds, and rightly so. Mind you, it’s probably the only flight that actually goes to Cardiff Airport these days.
When they do arrive at the World Health Organisation, the climax of Gerry’s investigation is tense and provides exactly the feelings you want in a zombie movie. The only issue I take with it is that it provides a bit too much closure.
With David Fincher in talks about directing a sequel, I struggle to see how Gerry and his family would fit into it. It’s the investigation that made Gerry such a compelling character and now that’s been completed, I think he needs to park himself up and Fincher needs to revert back to some of the characters in the source material.
Either way, I’m biased. I loved this movie, I’ll go see the sequel and I’ll love that too.
4* - Infected with little mistakes that stop WWZ from clawing top marks.