— Robert Duvall as Lt. Col. Bill Kilgore from Apocalypse Now, 1979
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June 21, 2013
Review: World War Z entertains visually but lacks intimacy with its audience
— Posted by Ryan
Synopsis: United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to destroy humanity itself.
What can I say about World War Z that the trailer hasn’t already shown? If you have been paying attention to the trailers then you have probably have a high level understanding of the plot of this film. Much of the film, with exception to the ending, could be defined as a simple elaboration of what the trailer has already given us. It’s fast paced, which is great for those who love to be in the line of fire while the world is ending but bad for those who are seeking a character to connect with.
The film opens and jumps immediately into the spread of the “Zombie” plague described through the use of a variety of media outlets heard in the background. There’s a quick and simple introduction of the main characters and then immediately the havoc is unleashed and rarely stops. While many apocalyptic/zombie type films start out with the characters’ escape to safety then move to a quieter, more intimate setting where they can connect, World War Z moves from the escape then to a focus on finding the cure. Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), who is experienced in disaster type situations, immediately sets out on quest to find a solution to the plague. During this quest I was hoping to discover some interesting details about the beginnings or development of the outbreak, but instead the film continues to move at a continual rapid pace, giving tidbits and teases of information that I wish could have been elaborated. The setting and dialogue is very touch and go. As the setting changes, the dialogue remains consistent as nothing particularly interesting is said and no significant plot twists occur until near the end.
While the plot and character development remain stagnant, the action is constant. The most entertaining moments are when familiar landmarks and facilities are taken over by the creatures. The airplane sequence is my favorite due to its familiar setting and the idea of such a compartmentalized area being bombarded with nowhere to run. On a large scale, the scenes are shot well even though the CGI is apparent at times. Scenes of countries and cities overrun by the zombies are fluid but the awkward, individual movements make the CGI effect apparent much like many horror films. Another shared horror cliche is the “make you jump” moment. While the abrupt scare works well in more intimate horror films, I thought this was out of place in this film. The intention may have been a humorous one, but with the pace of the film, I think some horror cliches like this one should have been left out.
The film was entertaining on a visual level but the character and plot development were lacking. The idea of this film differentiates it from other films like this, but the inability to connect with the characters made it more of a movie thrill ride than a cinema experience. I enjoyed the few intimate moments that were in the film, but they were too short lived to be notable. While I commend the filmmakers for what they were trying to achieve, it just felt scattered at the end. I don’t know if this had to with the production issues and budget problems or possibly trying to emulate the subject shift in the original novel, but it just didn’t work with this film. Although I enjoyed moments in the film, I left the theater feeling underwhelmed.
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who has written 330 posts on The Movie Blog
First and foremost, Ryan Brown is a fan. He has been an avid fan of both the theater and cinema since an early age and his passion for both has been continually growing ever since. When dissecting a film, he focuses on all elements of film-making including some fan/cult factors. He believes that character development is the foundation of a good film and usually starts his analysis of a film from there moving forward. His writing style may be influenced by his background of narrative and argumentative studies in the subject, but he tends to enjoy a more conversational style to better interact with the readers, unlike some other pretentious and pompous writers.
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