World War Z quickly gets you into the action after a brief introduction to Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and plus his wife Karin and two daughters (all played by no-one famous). While stuck in a traffic jam, taking the children to school, a policeman races by on a motorbike and takes off the car’s wing mirror. Gerry gets out, but the next policeman shouts at him to get back in his car.
Soon after, life changes for the worse as all hell breaks out and they soon have to abandon the car from a camper van. All the while, zombies have come from nowhere, for no explicable reason, and are running about turning other people into zombies by biting them. But while most people stay at home, as the emergency broadcast recommends they stay in doors (cue the imminent off-screen demise of one family after they choose this option), the Lanes head off elsewhere, where Martial Law looks set to be declared as people head for the supermarket to take what they can find. For all you know, there’s nothing left but cans of wadded beef.
After holing up in a tower block for the night, the family are picked up on the roof by a helicopter after Gerry has been able to speak to a contact at the U.N. and get them all on board an aircraft carrier and, thankfully, the family after left behind on there, a mere 30 minutes into the film, as Gerry heads off to help the army do what they need to do, so I was glad he doesn’t have to keep a couple of snotty kids in tow.
When it comes to the certificate of this film, for one thing I was glad that it was a 15. Too many films, these days, are geared towards a kiddie-friendly 12-certificate, often being censored for theatrical viewing in the process, such as A Good Day To Die Hard and The Hunger Games, so one of the draws for me was that it wasn’t going to be dumbed-down in this way. However, when I watched the film, I struggled to see anything that required a 15. Not a single person says the f-word, which is usually the easy way most films guarantee a 12-certificate since, in the USA, the PG-13 equivalent is often secured as a PG means box-office death unless they’re producing a CGI film for kids. While for the rest of the film, there’s precious little threat from the zombies. Sure, they quickly manage to scale a wall into a compound – in one of the better action sequences featured (below) – but getting lots of individuals on screen at once just reminds me of something from the Lord of the Rings films, and those are no higher than a 12.
The only thing I can imagine is that Tolkein’s world is one of fantasy whereas, here, the threat is against the human race. The BBFC’s site claims the rating is for “sustained threat and strong violence”, but while I didn’t feel like I saw anything particularly strong, the word “sustained” is more like “the film goes on for two hours and really needs a good editing”.
In fact, there’s some painfully poor editing in this film as well. Before I knew it, Brad Pitt and co had quickly taken off in the camper van before I’d realised they’d got in one, and later, when a woman has her hand hacked off, I only saw the subsequent result when it was being bandaged up. I don’t remember dropping off, so this moment seemed to have completely passed me by. That said, the violence also feels spoiled by having anything interesting happen off-screen, so that may well have a part to play in the letter moment.
Another problem with this film is that there’s an awful lot of muffled speech. I might have to see it again to catch all of the dialogue, if I can stand to watch it again. Don’t the directors of films actually listen back to their audio?
And in addition to Marco Beltrami’s soundtrack, there’s music from Muse’s Matt Bellamy, not that you’d get that impression from what we hear.
Go to page 2 for my conclusions.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.