Let’s get the obvious out of the way; This film bares very little semblance to the books (http://www.maxbrookszombieworld.com/) on which it is, very loosely, based.
Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so.
The book is really a collection of short stories chronicling zombie attacks; starting at the initial outbreak and continuing through to the official ‘end of the war’ . The link between the stories being that they were collected by the unnamed narrator as a series of interviews conducted while he was compiling a report for the United Nation’s Postwar Commission. I feel that this would have been very difficult to build into a film. To stay true to the book, a better format would have been to make a television series with one or 2 stories per episode.
The film gives us a name and a face for the narrator character, Gerry Lane, and places the story directly around his involvement in the fight against the zombie plague. Lane and his family are rescued from their zombie infested city by his former employers, the United Nations, and he is then persuaded to help find the source of the outbreak so that a cure can be found. This leads to a series of set pieces as he travels from country to country trying to find ‘patient zero’.
We’ve probably all seen clips and trailers from the film (http://uk.movies.yahoo.com/movie/world-war-z/) and, to be honest, they sum it up quite well. It is more of an action film with zombies in it rather than a zombie horror film but it does make a good combination with plenty of ‘edge of the seat moments’. The action continues through most of the film only slowing down towards the end where the focus changes from chasing a cause to proving that there is a cure. The change in pace is offset by an increase in tension as explosions and gunfights are replaced by a nerve wracking trek through a zombie infested World Health Organisation research facility.
There is not much I could find about the film to complain about except maybe that it seemed to end too soon but if they had extended the ending, after a cure had been found, then I suppose I would probably be complaining that it should have been shorter.
I would like to know a bit more about the background to the Gerry Lane character. We learn early on that he used to be an investigator for the United Nations and it is later mentioned, briefly, that he left after wrongly be blamed for something. We also get an angry reaction about refugee camps being unsafe. I don’t know if these things relate to part of the story line that was dropped but they did raise a few questions in my mind. Perhaps there will be a novelisation of the film or maybe a comic series to flesh out and add to the story similar to the 30 Days of Night series (http://www.idwpublishing.com/catalog/series/12)
There were a couple of very good points in the film that stood out for me:
The way the zombies attacked, leading with their heads thrust forward looked very unnatural and unnerving – very effective in building up the atmosphere of how wrong and frightening these undead were.
A sensible explanation as to how the zombie virus spread, At the start of the film it is established that it only took 12, seconds after being bitten by a zombie, before a change led to the victim leaping around and biting others. As the story unfolded we learn how in the earlier original attacks there was a much longer incubation period which would have given victims time to unwittingly travel around to spread the virus when they eventually succumbed.
It is definitely a film that I will be watching again.