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World War Z (3D) (AF)


Stars: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, Daniella Kertesz, Matthew Fox, David Morse, Fana Mokoena, Abigail Hargrove, Sterling Jerins, Ludi Boeken, John Gordon Sinclair, Peter Capaldi, Moritz Bleibtrau

Director: Marc Forster

There’s been a plethora of pieces about the reported rewrites and re-shoots that moved the release of this Pitt-vs-The Undead action thriller from December 2012 to June 2013 and it would be all too easy simply to record the progress of the movie from script to finished film.

While that might be interesting to completeists, it would also be pointless. Right now World War Z exists as the movie that has now been released.

No doubt there will be plenty more background to wallow in when DVD extras are available.

Here director Marc Forster has done a first rate job of delivering a holding science fiction thriller that does not require audiences to have read the original novel by Max Brooks (son of filmmaker Mel Brooks) to enjoy the impressive action sequences featuring legions of the undead decimating the world and leaving former United Nations investigator Brad Pitt trying to find a way to stop the legions of the Undead from wiping out Mankind.

After surviving a hideous zombies onslaught in Philadelphia (impressively played by Glasgow) Pitt, his wife Mireille Enos and two young daughters (Abigail Hargrove, Sterling Jerins) escape to safety in an American aircraft carrier, Pitt has no choice but to take on the terrifying assignment of finding a way to destroy the Undead and save Mankind or have himself, his wife and kids expelled from the safety of the aircraft carrier.

His mission takes Pitt to South Korea, Israel and finally Wales where Pitt’s climactic experiences in a labyrinthine laboratory creates potent skin-crawling suspense…

The screenplay (Matthew Michael Carnahan and Drew Goddard & Damon Lindelof and based on a screen story by Matthew Michael Carnahan and J. Michael Straczynsk) - is effectively used by Forster who never lets the pace sag.

The contributions of cinematographer Ben Seresin, editors Roger Barton and Matt Chesseto and first-rate movie magicians wizards are highly impressive too.

They add to the creation if compelling action sequences featuring skillfully realized legions of Undead in murderous action, most notably in a hugely impressive and all-too-credible sequence in which zombies lay siege to Jerusalem.

Their work, added to Forster’s mostly driving direction, clearly delineate World War Z as a splendid example of movie-making teamwork rather than the more popular and trendy appellation of an “auteur” movie.

Pitt does well in his role as a reluctant hero, most notably when he initially escapes with his family from the vividly staged horrors of a massive zombie infected and explosive traffic jam in Philadelphia and his climactic cat-and-mouse confrontations with the Living Dead in the WHO laboratory. Other roles are well played by Enos, Ludi Boeken as a Mossad Agent, Matthew Fox and, notably, Peter Capaldi as a cynically sceptical scientist.

These days, zombie films tend to proliferate as vigorously as their subjects. Here the blend of the twitching shuffling undead and straightforward, stirring adventure marks World War Z as a real improvement on most genre movies whose action sequences alone could well win over new converts to cinematic zombies.

Alan Frank

USA 2013. UK Distributor: Paramount. Technicolor.
116 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 16 Jun 2013