A mysterious virus like infection spreads rapidly throughout the world and a man in order to guarantee his family safety is tasked to locate the origin of the outbreak and assist in finding a cure.
Without drawing comparison to Max Brooks' novel, World War Z's impact has been slightly numbed but the influx and saturation of zombie/virus films churned out over recent years. Nevertheless, under Marc Forster's direction WWZ is epic in scale with its sweeping scope and impressive special effects. Forster wisely focuses on Brad Pitt who is superb as ex UN official and family man Gerry Lane. Although the film may have benefited from an unknown actor for impact to Pitts credit he adds gravitas to the role as he journeys from one continent to another encountering perils and avoiding hordes of the twitching contaminated.The supporting cast give a solid backbone although no one stands out as being particularly memorable.
The reanimated are wonderfully well done, menacing and for the most part scary - especially in numbers. The limited makeup design on show is excellently crafted, although there's explosions, fire fights the gore is limited and the film is not necessarily blatantly horrific as one would expect - this works both for and against depending on your expectations. That said, there's enough action and tension to keep the causal viewer happy. For the harden zombie fans there's atmosphere, finely executed visuals, memorably the immense birds eye views of the swarming population like ants and a calibre of realism not found in the majority of films this genre.
With a genuine on location feel and despite being reminiscent of 28 Days/Weeks later with fast infected Forster delivers a globe trotting disaster flick with less deliberate rough edges. The communication between the infected is interesting, including their dormant status.What also works at times is an old school horror approach, there's lots of moments where the sound design leaves it to the viewers imagination.Notably though the editing and screenplay does pander to the masses, offering paint by numbers solutions and outcomes. For example the Israel (filmed in Malta) segment takes a little too long for Gerry to hone in on the noise leaving the viewer too much time to digest and anticipate what's going to happen next which robs the scene of much of its intended impact and tension. Nevertheless, the Moscow heroic like ending was infamously re-shot for a more quieter, personal closing and Gerry wife's fidelity left intact, which in my mind works better, more true to his every man personality and the set up that came before.
All in all the apocalyptic vision is a solid, realistic and a heartfelt entry if somewhat too late to achieve greatness. Let's hope for a sequel that surpasses this with Pitt on board again.