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Dead good zombie movie

World War Z
DIRECTED BY: Marc Forster
STARRING: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, David Morse
CERT: 15A

Oh no, not zombies again.

 

That was the general reaction in our house to the first trailers for World War Z and I imagine we were not alone. Zombie saturation point was reached a long time ago. Indeed, as far as I’m concerned, it was all downhill after the wonderful Shaun of the Dead.

Still, they keep coming, the studio suits perhaps encouraged by the strange fact that, a decade after Buffy hung up her stake for good, the vampire craze is stronger than ever. Just when I thought the teenage girl of the family had recovered from her Twilight illness, she developed an even more serious obsession with The Vampire Diaries – and now her mother has caught the infection.

So if the vampires can keep the dough rolling in, can not their shabby, undead cousins do likewise? They clearly intend to try, and in World War Z, they’re giving it plenty of welly.
They kick things off without too much fuss, ruining a perfectly happy morning for the perfectly beautiful Lane family. Gerry (Pitt) is whipping up pancakes for his wife (Enos) and two daughters, when news reports emerge of a rabies virus doing strange things to people in several countries. Not to worry, it’s all very far away.

Only it’s not and soon the Philadelphia morning traffic jam gets a tad more hellish than usual. The zombies have arrived and the Lanes are legging it. So is everyone else but Gerry’s clan has an advantage on the rest, seeing as how he’s a former UN investigator who still has the pull to get himself out of a scrape. Or a bite.

Soon the family is whisked off to the safety of an aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean. But there’s a catch – Gerry’s wife and girls will only be given sanctuary if he agrees to come out of retirement and help to sort this mess out.

So off he goes with a team of Navy SEALS, looking for answers but it all looks grim. Washington is ruined, the president is dead and the zombie masses are growing – charging about in a rage, like fire ants on crack, mad with the hunger for humans. They hunt by sound and though it’s not exactly original, there’s a wonderfully tense scene where some potential victims do their best to keep quiet, while the rabid creatures stalk the place.

They finally get a clue as to what’s going down, thanks to some info from a rogue CIA agent (David Morse), now behind bars for a shady arms deal with North Korea. He might be like a toothless Hannibal Lecter but he knows a bit about the origins of the plague and he sends the boys – but mostly one-man-army, Gerry – on a frantic chase. The itinerary includes stops in Korea, Hungary, Malta, and Scotland, by way of a trip to Israel – where the walls of Jerusalem offer our zombie friends a spectacular challenge. They prove to be quite resourceful when they put their mad, frazzled heads together.

Zombie overkill, and all the negative buzz about messy rewrites and reshoots, might be more than enough to keep viewers away from this one. The fact that it’s written by Damon Lindelof (Lost, Prometheus) and directed by Marc Forster (the abysmal Bond bore, Quantum of Solace) will make it even less appealing to some. But, all said, World War Z is quite a decent apocalyptic thriller.

Sure, it gets a tad ridiculous at times and those scurrying zombies can be unintentionally funny.

But mostly it’s a fine spectacle that moves along at a brisk pace and some of the action scenes are fantastic. Along with the fall of Jerusalem, an explosive mid-air incident on a jet packs quite a memorable punch.

Better still, there’s even a bit of humour. Certain fellows named Nolan might learn something from that – if you can have a laugh at the apocalypse, at the end of humanity as we know it, there is really no excuse for glum superheroes.

The film doesn’t have a big-name cast but main man Pitt does a solid job as the hero and there are some nice performances from David Morse and Mireille Enos.

The climax, though, is a disappointment, clearly the biggest victim of production hassle, with the possibility of a sequel shoehorned in for good measure.

It’s a somewhat less desolate ending than appears in the Max Brooks novel but I suppose when you’re going for a family-friendly certificate – and indeed, when Brad Pitt is your leading man – you have to offer a little hope.

Hey, it’s the movies.

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