When the zombie apocalypse goes down, it would help if you were good at running very fast. New-school zombies, the post ‘Dawn of the Dead’ remake variety, are sprinters. And they’re smart. And they can find you. And when they find you they will scale a building and leap through the air to yank down the helicopter you’re trying to escape in. Then you will be lunch. Then you will also be a zombie. Cycle repeats as you pull down your own helicopter and eat its occupants.
This is essentially what happens in ‘World War Z’ starring Brad Pitt and Mireille Enos of television’s ‘The Killing’, another fine series. Loosely based on the book of the same name by Max Brooks, This movie suffered reshoots and a lot of negative press because of the delays and the change of ending. Normally, that would spell disaster for a movie. As it turns out it’s neither a disaster nor a total triumph, but a solidly put together thriller with plenty of entertaining scenes.
Opening scenes shot in Glasgow, which is supposed to be Philadelphia, where we meet Pitt, his wife and two young daughters. Stuck in traffic, we hear news reports of trouble around the world and disease outbreaks, when suddenly all hell breaks loose. There’s panic in the streets and people attacking each other, attacks that are close up and frantically edited to the point of confusion, compensated by the intensity.
Barely escaping with their lives, the family makes it to an aircraft carrier, where it’s soon revealed that they’re in the middle of a worldwide zombie infestation. Zombification is almost instantaneous, the walking dead are fast, savage and abundant.
As a former United Nations investigator, Pitt is needed to go back into the mix with a scientist to try to find a cure or a way to stop the outbreak. This takes us to Korea for a gloomy and hard to follow sequence that’s just a stepping stone to get us to Israel.
This is where the movie really starts to gain traction. For a start everything there happens in daylight, and gives us a proper sense of the scale of the devastation. But the eye-catcher is the sheer number of zombies attacking a walled Jerusalem, and they’re working together, forming undead pyramids to great effect, as you’ve seen those spectacular shots from the trailer.
‘World War Z’ is a reasonably original take on the zombie movie. It is good entertainment and a descent time-filler. And it’s playing at the Beacon Theatre this Friday.