Posted June 19, 2013 by Mikael Angelo Francisco in Movies/TV


Paramount Pictures/Plan B Entertainment
Philippine Release Date: June 19, 2013
Runtime: 116 minutes (1 hour 56 minutes)
MTRCB Rating: PG-13

Merriam-Webster defines the word “war” as “a struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a particular end”. It’s a powerful meaning for such a short word. Unsurprisingly, there are few combinations of words in the English language that can deliver imagery as powerfully as the term “world war”. Hunger and famine. Armed struggle, blood, and bereaved families. Death. All of these, on a global scale. While World War Z succeeds in depicting these elements, the film falls flat in its attempt to tie them together, mainly due to the near-absence of any sort of emotional resonance whatsoever.

Based on the best-selling novel by Max Brooks, World War Z almost immediately takes us right into the thick of things. By using an approach similar to that of to the comic book/TV series The Walking DeadWorld War Z wisely avoids the complicated (and tedious) process of coming up with a plausible reason for an actual zombie apocalypse to happen.  However, the possible origin of the pandemic becomes a significant factor in the film, as well as the main reason why the protagonist, former UN investigator Gerry Lane (played by Brad Pitt), finds himself traveling to different parts of the world in search of a solution to the world’s undead problem.

Gerry’s quest takes him from barricaded cities to dilapidated offices, and while the locations change, the mood remains the same. The world is rotting, the colors are dripping with decay, and the numerous hordes of zombies throughout the film bring with them a legitimate sense of dread and hopelessness. Unfortunately, being present during the entirety of Gerry’s journey also allows us to see the film’s three biggest problems.

Primarily, the film is severely lacking in terms of emotional weight. The elements are there, of course, but for some reason they just don’t seem to hit any sort of mark. Gerry’s family, for example, feels less like a solid reason for the hero to come home safely and more like an obligatory inclusion, for the sole purpose of establishing and maintaining some form of “emotional connection” to the audience. None of the tragedy in the film feels real, and while the world looks desolate and grim, it somehow doesn’t feel as dead as it should.

Another problem is the government’s inexplicable dependence on Gerry. It’s hard to believe that the world’s greatest minds and most decorated veterans would willingly leave the fate of the world in the hands of a retired operative, simply on the basis of his reputation. Especially not if he’s compromised by his fears and concern for his family. Besides, given that it was made abundantly clear in the film that the UN had very few problems in terms of communication, transportation and firepower – hell, calling for rescue and/or reinforcements even seemed just as easy as ordering a Big Mac via phone – it baffles me how they even let Gerry do most of the heavy work. It’s not like they were out of troops, and Gerry can’t possibly be the only competent human left on the planet. I find all of this even more surprising, as the “detective work” he ends up doing could have been done by a dedicated team of researchers and soldiers. In fact, the entire problem could have been solved through proper coordination and a steady exchange of information between survivor camps and research teams. I guess nobody wants to sit for two hours just to see The Talking Dead.

These problems probably wouldn’t have mattered as much, though, had Gerry not been such a ridiculously resilient character. He ends up (willingly and accidentally) subjecting himself to – and surviving – an absurd variety of incidents that would otherwise immediately maim, decapitate, or straight up end the existence of any other fool who decides to bravely and single-handedly get to the root of all the madness. The fact that he survives as long as he does in the film is a testament to his, I don’t know, possible Kryptonian heritage or something. Then again, this IS a Hollywood production about mindless husks of humanity overrunning the planet; plausibility does tend to take a back seat in favor of shock value and suspense, which, to its credit, World War Z has in spades.

Ultimately, World War Z is a carefully-crafted apocalypse that suffers from having about the same amount of heart and emotion as the zombies that populate it. If you enjoyed Man of Steel, you would probably enjoy this film, too.

VERDICT: 7 out of 10 zombie survival kits


A big shoutout goes to our friends from Solar-UIP (Like their page here!) and Ayala Cinemas (Like their page here, too!) for the special screening of World War Z!


Mikael Angelo Francisco