With The Walking Dead continuing to be a strong force on television, the Resident Evil franchise somehow still doing good box office business and an unknown amount of zombie indie features infecting direct-to-dvd shelves all the time (with the odd one making it into theaters), its not surprising that studios are looking for the next big hit in the genre. Unfortunately for fans of the excellent book that this film is loosely based on, they are not treated here to the adaptation they deserve and I think nearly everyone was expecting something a lot worse to come out of this. That surprisingly isn't the case.
You know the story. An infection spreads. People start to turn and in great blockbuster fashion, they enlarge the scope and make it worldwide. I think the element that worked very well to guide this film onto the right path was not focusing on any unnecessary family moments in the build-up. They simply wake up, start their day and everything unleashes by the five minute mark. From there amongst all the chaos we are fed smarter-than-average character moments that create enough development to keep us intrigued. That's about where our characters end though. There isn't any great sense of loss or fear for any of them to work with, but thankfully direction, scope and big set pieces that opened the film, continues throughout, even when the film drops out during the final moments of an intense third act and fumbles looking for a strong way to finish. Director Marc Forster and leading man Brad Pitt deserve the praise here. Marc Forster handles his frames with surprising energy and intensity and he manages to elevate the film above any problems it holds. When Brad Pitt isn't scouting for Oscars, he manages to pull off leading man performances in lesser films and he does well here.
World War Z is no great film, but it is far more competent, fun and exciting than most of us expected, with just the right amount of smarts. It delivers the blockbuster goods in droves.
3.5 out of 5.
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