Monday 28 October 2013

World War Z

Watched this on DVD for the first time. I enjoyed it more than I expected and there are some genuinely tense moments, particularly near the beginning and towards the end. And the special effects, as you would expect from a film with such a huge budget, are truly spectacular. You definitely realise that what you are watching is a global catastrophe.The action spans the United States, South Korea, Tel Aviv and Wales. The zombies are fast moving (I have never seen any faster, in fact!) and are massed in greater numbers than I can remember in any other film . They literally explode like a never-ending tsunami of undead flesh, overwhelming everything in their path within seconds. You don't get scarier zombies than these, against which even the most advanced weapons seem useless.

Yet, for all its scale and the impressively realistic effects, it's almost too big, too global. It is all action, with no time for contemplation or for the viewer to develop empathy with the characters in it. There are several ways in which to develop a zombie story. There's this, and there's the more leisurely, in-depth, character-filled alternative such as the BBC's In the Flesh or US TV's The Walking Dead, whose budgets are almost negligible by comparison. But in these you begin to care about the characters, especially In the Flesh, where even the zombies have lives of their own. Autumn, too, developed our interest in the survivors - and it's the survivors' stories that matter. That's what a good zombie story is all about.

Unlike many of the best of them, from Romero's Night of the Living Dead onwards, I don't know whether World War Z is a film I would want to re-watch again and again now that I have seen it and know what happens. None of the characters, even Brad Pitt's (and he's in the film from start to finish) come over as real people. Oddly enough, when they rampage in their hordes, the zombies too, for all the realism of their appearance, barely registered with me as real zombies. Perhaps it was a case of too much and too fast. 

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