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World War Z (9/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 116 minutes.

Not for children.

I am not a horror film aficionado. And you donít expect to see matinee idol Brad Pitt in a horror film with a bunch of zombies running around trying to kill everybody. But thatís what you have here. Actually, itís not really a horror film. Itís more horror-lite. Oh there are zombies, all right. But, frankly, they arenít that scary.

What this really is, is an action film. Based on Max Brooksí novel, what itís got going for is director Marc Foster. Foster directed the only good performance Iíve ever seen out of Will Ferrell, in 2006ís Stranger Than Fiction, about which I said, ďAdvertised as a comedy, there are some funny lines. But as the movie progresses itís got far too much depth to be viewed as a frivolous comedy.Ē If Foster can entice a good performance out of Ferrell, heís got to be good. He also directed 2008ís Quantum of Solace, one of the few actually good James Bond films without Sean Connery.

There are four writers who received credit, in addition to Brooks. That generally indicates problems with the script, but I thought it held up pretty well, considering what it is.

After some annoying slice of life scenes establishing Gary and Karin Lane (Pitt and Mireille Enos, respectively) as a relatively normal Philadelphia family (Glasgow, Scotland was the location shot as Philadelphia, and Malta was used for Jerusalem), they hop in their car and almost immediately all hell breaks loose, setting forth one of the tensest first 60 minutes of film Iíve seen in a long time. I was on the edge of my seat and couldnít relax. While it does strain credulity, it is extremely well done.

While the budget for this film is estimated at $170 million, most of it must have been spent on the extraordinary special effects and star Brad Pitt, because other than Pitt, thereís really not anybody extraordinarily well-known if youíre not a TV fan. Thatís not to say, however, that the cast is not uniformly excellent. Marco Beltrami provides wonderful tension-enhancing music and the visual effects by Scott Farrar are exceptional.

I go into films trying to know as little as possible about the story and plot. Thatís what I did here and it was a rewarding film experience. In fact, Iíve already told you more than I should have. So thatís all Iím going to say about this film.

June 17, 2013