Amongst all the chatter that the zombie concept is played out, consider that the closest these horror staples have come to a blockbuster depiction is the Resident Evil series – something that leaves ample scope for improvement. As the title suggests, World War Z follows the cascading plague of undead around the globe via a series of clashes, stalemates and counter-attacks, and from its broadest, most removed perspective the film offers an enticing blend of action, disaster, pandemic and horror.
Most blockbusters’ strengths lie in their set pieces rather than the often-fragile narrative that connects them together, and this is true here, the challenge in fashioning a wholly viable experience from World War Z made all the more difficult by the fragmented first person accounts that form its source material. Unfortunately, the solution isn’t to insert Brad Pitt into all of these scenarios, the result being an increasingly implausible one man journey around the planet as he gets into, and out of, all manner of zombie scrapes in search of the outbreak’s origins.
Those scrapes are pretty damn fun to watch though – particularly the escalating chaos of the fall of Philadelphia and a tense Pitt-stop in Korea – and for a gore-free film, there are plenty of scares to accompany the film’s unique massively-depicted scale. Sadly, World War Z can’t quite overcome its narrative challenges, well-documented production dramas or the distracting unreality of its undead (through at times average CGI). A rushed ending and unnecessary family subplot don’t help either, making for a mixed bag that isn’t the disaster some predicted, but is unlikely to kickstart a hoped-for franchise.
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