Movie Review of World War Z (2013)

by JoHarrington

This British-American apocalyptic thriller sets Brad Pitt up against a global infestation of zombies. The graphics are simply amazing.

While under development, 'World War Z' became more famous for its seemingly endless troubles, rather than the movie that would ultimately be made.

Gossip columns ran with plenty of fodder about in-fighting and script rewrites, leading some to hypothesize that the movie had completely lost its way and would therefore flop in the box office.

It did not. The final cut was a breath-taking voyage of relentless action across the world. This is certainly not a story confined to a single US shopping mall. 'World War Z' imagines a zombie epidemic on a global scale, and shows it too.

Brad Pitt Takes on the Zombie Apocalypse

Other zombie movies tell us that the epidemic is world-wide. 'World War Z' takes us there to show us first-hand what's happening on a global scale.

Image: World War Z Brad Pitt plays Gerry Lane, a retired front-line investigator for the United Nations.

He used to be one of the top operatives to be dropped into war-torn areas, in order to rescue people or discover the truth about what's happening there. Now he's more at home - literally - cooking breakfast for his young daughters.

Then a fast moving contagion takes over the world. Anyone infected dies horrifically within seconds, then is swiftly transformed into a mindless, violent zombie intent only upon infecting all around them. Only Gerry's hard-learned skills will extract his family from immediate danger; only his connections at the highest level will see them air-lifted to safety.

But resources are limited. Gerry's left with a stark choice - resume his dangerous role as an investigator or take his family to a refugee camp. The latter is publicly deemed a safe haven, but Gerry knows that it can't ever be fully protected. It's only a matter of time before the zombies find and over-run it.

Thus Gerry is thrust on a global quest for answers, as to the source of the undead infestation and ultimately its solution.

Trailer for World War Z (2013)

Graphics in World War Z

Where World War Z stands head and shoulders (and brainssss) above other zombie movies is in the graphics.

A budget of $190 million went into the making of this film, a huge portion of which must have gone on creating zombie invasions on an epic scale.

It's one thing to understand the zombie standard of mindless striving towards feasting upon humans, it's quite another to see that genre trope taken to its logical conclusion.

These aren't gnashing faced hordes crowding at a locked door. These are masses large enough and mindless enough to crash through that door, due to sheer weight of pressure.

Moreover they can trample on those below to create vast pyramids to circumvent any wall, create writhing towers to reach helicopters and swarm over most boundaries. Why not? They have no sense of personal danger, and an overwhelming drive to get to their prey.

World War Z on Amazon Instant Video

World War Z: Jerusalem Wall

This scene provides a perfect - and jaw-dropping - example of the graphics in World War Z. Don't watch it if you want to see this classic moment in context.
World War Z on DVD

A former UN investigator is thrust into the middle of trying to stop what could be the end of the world. Worldwide destruction sends him around the globe seeking clues...

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World War Z (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)

A former UN investigator is thrust into the middle of trying to stop what could be the end of the world. Worldwide destruction sends him around the globe seeking clues about wha...

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World War Z is Truly a World Zombie Movie

In each country, native actors took on the roles too. No dodgy accents or people trying to pretend they are another nationality here!

Image: World War Z Brad Pitt with ZombieThe thing that really took me by surprise about World War Z was its global scope. I'm used to zombie movies taking place in a single city, or - at best - a solitary country.

We hear that the infestation is world-wide solely because television clips tell us so. And the footage is generally swamped in international landmarks to highlight the global nature.

But not with World War Z. Gerry spends a great deal of the movie boarding planes to travel to another country. We see what's going on there, and it isn't always in the capital cities. There was something utterly thrilling about this, particularly because you didn't know where he would end up next.

It's all well and good zombie infestations occurring miles away, in another country or the capital of your own nation. But when there's a strong possibility that Gerry could land in your back-yard, the perceived safety of distance has gone. You could be next.  The zombies could be here!

By all accounts, the international reach of World War Z could have been even greater. Scenes were shot depicting Russia, but cut after unfavorable feedback from test audiences. A plot-line involving China was changed, when Chinese censors indicated that it would cause the movie to not be shown in their country.

I just loved how, through sheer location alone, I couldn't predict exactly what was going to happen next. The broader story maybe, but not the next scene. It's rare that a zombie movie - so entrenched in its own norms - can do that.  This one certainly took me by surprise to the point where I once had a double-take. Had I really heard THAT destination correctly?  Oh... dear...

We all know that it's coming. The internet has been talking about an infestation of zombies since about 2008. But are you ready?
Imagine a garden display, framed by beautiful flowers and greenery, wherein you can enact the Zombie Apocalypse with undead garden gnomes. Great, isn't it?
What if a Romero-style zombie apocalypse occurred in Britain? Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright depict it with utter genius in this dark comedy.

Dr Who in a Zombie Movie!

At the time of writing, Matt Smith has only recently regenerated into Peter Capaldi. We've had the barest scene, just enough to be introduced to the idea, but not to cement Capaldi into the Whovian consciousness as the face of the Doctor.

That will all change over the next year or two. By which time, World World Z will not merely contain a cameo role for Peter Capaldi. It will be well and truly elevated into Dr Who fighting zombies.

I wonder if that will subtly alter those scenes for people watching in the future? They will be thoroughly engrossed in the story, when POW! The Doctor is here to help Gerry Lane and there's no TARDIS in sight!

It might be an unintended moment of being lifted out of one story and into another, but it might not. Peter Capaldi is a fabulous actor and hopefully that will transpire to keep both roles separate.

For the rest of us, there's only a narrow margin of time to watch those scenes as the writer and director intended. After that, it's wondering why he didn't just use the sonic screwdriver all the way.

World War Z by Max Brooks

The stunning book upon which the movie was based.

World War Z DOES Pass the Bechdel Test

The Bechdel Test asks that there are at least two named female characters, who have a conversation about something other than a male character.

Image: World War Z Karin and RachelThere are plenty of named female characters in World War Z, including a top scientist and a soldier.

However the Bechdel Test - which sets a low bar in measuring the role of women in movies - requires that they also converse.

The pass occurs within Gerry's family. While he's gallivanting around the world fighting zombies, Karin Lane is left with their two young daughters, Rachel and Constance.  Early on, the girls are being entertained in traffic with a guessing game. Their mother speaks to them. They speak with each other. World War Z immediately passes the Bechdel Test.

Later on, Rachel had an asthma attack and Karin talks her through it. Another pass. Karin and Rachel also had a conversation about the fact that Karin is British (her husband and daughters are American).

I'm fairly certain that mother and daughters also discussed provisions, while they were grabbing supplies in a supermarket.

There's a final, slightly tenuous pass, insofar as Karin had a conversation with Tomas's mother. Unfortunately, she wasn't named as a character beyond that. Plus she spoke no English in the movie, so Tomas had to translate each word spoken between the two ladies.

World War Z Books and CDs

World War Z: Music from the Motion Picture

World War Z: Music From The Motion Picture is a score composed by Marco Beltrami.

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Max Brooks Boxed Set: World War Z, The Zombie Survival Guide

Just in time for the release of the blockbuster Summer movie, World War Z, this boxed set includes two New York Times bestsellers from Max Brooks: World War Z and The Zombie Sur...

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The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks

Those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it. From the Stone Age to the information age, the undead have threatened to engulf the human race. They’ re coming. Th...

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World War Z: The Art of the Film

World War Z is the eagerly awaited film starring Brad Pitt. The story revolves around United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Pitt), who traverses the world in a race against time t...

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World War Z: The Complete Edition: An Oral History of the Zombie War

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The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead

The Zombie Survival Guide is your key to survival against the hordes of undead who may be stalking you right now. Fully illustrated and exhaustively comprehensive, this book cov...

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Updated: 02/13/2014, JoHarrington
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


JoHarrington on 01/25/2014

I enjoyed it. :) I have no hesitation in recommending it on.

Jo_Murphy on 01/25/2014

You have certainly convinced me to go and see it! o

JoHarrington on 01/24/2014

It's definitely worth a gander. :D

Ember on 01/24/2014

Ooooh. I'll have to check this one out! I like zombie movies :D

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