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Critics review: World War Z gets mixed reviews

The Brad Pitt-starrer film is about a zombie apocalypse...again. Based on an American novel, the horror film has got very diverse reviews. And interestingly, the divide lies between UK and US critics.

hollywood Updated: Jun 21, 2013 14:32 IST
Brad Pitt,World war z,review

Cast: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz

Director: Marc Forster

Plot synopsis: United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to destroy humanity itself.

The Brad Pitt-starrer film is about a zombie apocalypse...again. Based on the novel World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft's son Max Brooks, the horror film has got very diverse reviews. And interestingly, the divide lies between UK and US critics.

While Brit critics such as Peter Bradshaw and Chris Tookey have written some rather cutting things about the film, American critics Owen Gleiberman and Todd McCarthy have been far more kind.

World War ZPerhaps, the bias also has something to do with the pronunciation of the title... Is it World War Zee (American pronuncication) or World World Zed (the way the Brits pronounce it)? It is of course the former, playing on the rhyme with World War 3.

The action-horror has been directed by Marc Forster, better known for movies like Bond flick Quantum of Solace, Monster's Ball and Stranger Than Fiction. The film began shooting in 2011 and many of the scenes in the film were re-written and re-shot too, reportedly due to the negative reaction within the studio itself.

A rather disappointed Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian called the film a 'bloated, boring zombie action thriller' and Brad Pitt 'a handsome "UN investigator"'. Comparing the movie with the book, Bradshaw even goes on to say, "but once Hollywood gets its rabid fangs into a complex book, it often turns it into a shambling, snarling parody of itself."

In the end, he writes, "But the real panic spreads in the cinema auditorium as we realise we've got two hours of dodgy acting and dull CGI work ahead, culminating in massed snoring in that Welsh lab." Oops! That didn't go off so well. Rating: 2/5

Robbie Collins of The Telegraph went through the Z pronunciation confusion too, though he had had sleeping Zzzzz analogy too. And this Brit critic too, has trashed the film, saying, "Marc Forster’s film junks the satire and multiple perspectives, and instead recasts the story as an uncomplicated globe-trotting thriller." And then the dry remark, dripping with sarcasm, "What we get is a collection of moderately violent action set-pieces untroubled by humour or broader coherence." Rating: 2/5

Chris Tookey of the Daily Mail doesn't have very nice things to say either. "It’s slap-bang in the middle of that quality spectrum, round about the level of Godzilla." Speaking about one of its weak points, Tookey calls the characterisation "horrifyingly feeble". However, he does concede, "The film is impressive in its big set pieces. The initial panic on the streets of Philadelphia is thrilling, as is the fall of Jerusalem to the undead horde and an airborne sequence that might easily have been called Zombies On A Plane." Rating: 2/5

Hey, don't decide to scrap the film, just yet.

Peter Travers of the Rolling Stone, (albeit surprised himself) had much nicer things to say. "World War Z is still as smart, shifty and scary as a starving zombie ready to chow down on you, baby, you." In fact, he even writes, "Be grateful that Forster doesn’t screw up like he did with Quantum of Solace. His jolts may be PG-13-safe and thematically disconnected, but that zombie lurch from coach to first-class on a commercial jet is a nerve-fryer." Err... Rating: 3/4

WWZCalling, World War-Z 'the most entertaining and accomplished zombie thriller since George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead (1979)', Owen Gleiberman of the Entertainment Weekly, seems rather impressed with the film. He writes, "It's vast and sprawling and spectacular; it's the first truly globalized orgy of the undead...World War Z lifts some of its vérité-apocalypse mood, as well as the terrifying speed with which the zombies move" "It's thrillingly controlled, and it builds in impact," he adds. Rating: A-

According to Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter, Brad Pitt delivers a capable performance in an immersive apocalyptic spectacle about a global zombie uprising. He writes, "On the craft side, it's easy to see where the money went, as scene after scene overflows with hordes of people (many of them CGI-generated) and elaborate backgrounds. The film is a feast for the eyes (the 3D conversion is very good), while the zombie horror consists mostly of mild jolts rather than shocks."

Bottomline: Basically, there are only three reasons you'll probably like World War-Z: you're a Brad Pitt fan (it's a one-man-show here, clearyly), you love zombies & horror flicks and if you are a fan of CGI technology & effects.
Otherwise, you can safely wait for the next weekend, or perhaps go for Monsters University instead.

First Published: Jun 21, 2013 13:51 IST