Thursday, 20 June 2013

World War Z [Review]

Opinion: B

By Jason Lin

Despite its rumoured production woes, World War Z turns out to be quite a pleasant surprise with well conceived direction and a relatively clever genre screenplay (as compared to most zombie films) that lists five writers under credits. Marc Forster balances the post-apocalyptic action horror with heightened elements of reality for a keen study of society and humanity when at war with a viral zombie outbreak. There is good engaging content amidst a comfortable dosage of thrilling action, which makes this one of the better bets this blockbuster season.

The story revolves around United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), who traverses the world in a race against time to stop a pandemic that is toppling armies and governments and threatening to decimate humanity itself.

Based on a similarly-titled novel by Max Brooks that details a collection of individualistic accounts of a zombie outbreak, adaptation might not be an easy feat it seems. From the long list of writers attached to the project, the late addition of sci-fi screenwriter Damon Lindelof who has reportedly been approached to rewrite the third act does spell out potential script credibility worries.

Perhaps it's exactly why World War Z turns out to be a pleasant surprise.

Forster begins with a montage of media footage in attempt to hint a sense of sociopolitical unrest. This sets the feel and tone of the film upfront and like other similar films such as Steven Soderbergh's Contagion, it does provide a broad sense of mystery as the plot thickens over the subsequent minutes albeit not as convoluted as Soderbergh's film.

Character introduction is kept brief as Forster opts to direct his audience into the thick of curiosity-seeking narrative over much welcomed thrilling action that comes across as comfortable and non-blatant. Forster appears to excel in crafting great action narrative scenes, as some may know from the opening scene of Quantum of Solace. Instead of devising an action scene that sees action over story, Forster embeds action within the narrative in World War Z as the understanding is to focus on the sociopolitical and geopolitical aspects.

This makes it more brilliant than other zombie films as characters behave and think with more sense than its other genre counterparts. Mostly through the account of UN investigator Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), viewers get a closer feel of what might happen in the case of living zombies overrunning cities globally. While it is not documentary real, it is comparatively much closer than most genre exploitation works.

With the ability to sprint and kill, zombies are much more horrific as victims turn within a mere 12 seconds. The audience knows this through the keen observation of Gerry, whose dedication to details despite chaos is admirable. Always try to make mental notes of critical outstanding traits in the surroundings during a crisis. The other lesson received is to keep moving for a higher chance of survival, which is difficult as people tend to freeze and hide when in fear.

Fear of death and the unknown.

Death is not glorified here (there is no gore or strong violence as main deliverables) as people tend to live and perish as the screenplay deems fit. Nobody seems to be bothered unless they are family, which might be the case during an actual crisis where society breaks order and every man for himself regardless of hierarchy/class. Even the news of the death of prominent nation leaders quickly passes without effect or any sense of loss.

It is the element of unknown that remains as the film's greatest triumph card as little is revealed behind the epidemic outbreak. The unknown behind any crisis is the true source of fear and terror. Gerry travels across the globe in search of "Patient Zero" and does so blindly without any medical knowledge of virology/pathology. However, civilisation has to thank Gerry's specialised skill set of deductive survey and analysis that gives World War Z an interesting edge to watch for.

As mentioned earlier, the third act is rewritten and it is perhaps expected that the third act ventures towards a significantly different direction. It is arguably going to divide opinions, but it sits reasonably well with this one. Using venom to fight venom, where the vulnerability of vicious forces is often at its most brutal. These concepts inspire solutions or means that will never have been logically made by human instinct.

We like it when actions are taken against conventionalism, especially when it comes with a satisfying dose of thrills and chills.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you!! I really, really want to see this and I am so tired of all the purists out there bashing it before they even see it. Of course you are always going to miss something in the translation when you try to bring a book to the screen. The book is the larger canvas and you're not hampered by budget. Terrific, honest and fair review.


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