Saturday, December 28, 2013

World War Z Blu-ray Review


I'll just be clear cut and honest, and this is going to piss zombie fans off: I am sick and tired of the zombie culture, nor have I ever been in that culture in the first place. I just don't find zombies to be interesting at all. I couldn't even push myself through to play Left 4 Dead myself, I only play it with friends to be sociable. So when I heard of World War Z, I think you can clearly guess that I'm not hyped up for it at all, so I skipped this movie in theatres. And when I finally rented this movie on Blu-ray to see what I've missed, it didn't do much for me to entice me into the world of zombies either. Even my friends were telling me that "Oh its an emotional zombie movie, and its a character-driven story, something we haven't seen in a zombie movie before", but when I actually saw the movie, the characters, the story and the plot is still so painfully cliché and generic to a typical zombie movie. So let's name some of those clichés, shall we? People stacking up furniture to create a barricade on doors to prevent zombies from going through? Check. Characters given an axe and a baseball bat to fend off the zombies, ala Left 4 Dead? Check.

Now, I wouldn't mind having this clichés here and there if the characters and story were anything revolutionary. Err, not really. Brad Pitt's character Gerry is your pretty generic, bland, uninteresting, but optimistic and resourceful hero, who ventures out to find a cure for the zombie plaque with the UN, so that the American Navy can allow his family to seek refuge in their aircraft carrier. I find myself not caring about Gerry or his family back on the ship, because there's hardly any character development with them throughout the whole movie. In fact, watching this movie for a second time for the sake of this review, I barely stayed awake. Yes, its really that boring for me.

Now, some of you may compare this movie to the recent critically acclaimed PS3 game The Last of Us, in that its an emotionally-driven zombie story. My friend even told me that the opening of this movie reminded him of the opening scene of The Last of Us. For me, not so much, but let me explain why I find The Last of Us more superior in its presentation. The characters Joel and Ellie are interesting, and their characters go through change as they progress through their journey. I certainly could not find that in World War Z, I don't really see how Gerry gets affected as a character in his adventure to rid the world of the zombie plaque. Yes, the opening scenes shows Gerry bonding with his family, and it appears to be a normal family day, before suddenly things take a turn for the worst, but that, to me, is not enough to really make me care about the characters at all before the non-stop zombie actions starts. You know, my first impressions of The Last of Us weren't that great either, given my dislike for the zombie genre in general, but that game managed to pull someone like me to actually care about the battle with the zombies, because it had clear characters, not that the characters Joel and Ellie are actually likeable to begin with, but you actually get to know who they are, something which is more that I can say than for this movie, at least an unlikeable character makes an impact on you, more so that a boring and generic hero character.

Ok, enough about my qualms with the zombie clichés, let's talk about what (little) the film gets right, that justifies me to give this marginally positive score. The original book, as well as this movie, manages to portray a zombie apocalypse that stretches on a global scale, which is maybe something new that zombie fans wanted and never got to see until this movie. The action sequences are really fast paced and once the action starts at the beginning of the film, it never stops until the third act. If you want non-stop adrenaline-filled zombie action, I think you will be more than satisfied. For me though, since I don't really care much about any of the characters, I don't find myself engaged in these fast-paced zombie action sequences. The third act, which is actually very different from the original cut of the film (more on that in a moment), does do something creative and adds a bit of scientific plausibility as to how to defeat the zombies, of which I will not spoil it here for you, but let's just say the concept is kinda surprisingly interesting. 

Now if you heard anything about the production of this film, you'll probably know that the film had some production troubles, one of which is that the third act of this movie has been completely rewritten and re-shot. This may be a bit spoiler-ish for you, but without giving any details, I'll just say that the one you will see in the movie is less action packed and a little bit more optimistic than the one originally written and shot. You can read elsewhere about this alternate third act at your own risk, but its sad to say that none of these scenes appear on this disc as special features. I hope to see more of those deleted footage in a future Blu-ray release.

So World War Z does have some bits of interesting ideas to add to the zombie genre, and it does have some of those zombie clichés there as fan service, I suppose, but by and large, its a pretty standard but solid zombie entertainment that will still appeal only to zombie fans, and does not do anything revolutionary enough to entice newcomers like myself, who aren't interested in the genre to begin with. But I believe a film that can do that is definitely possible. If The Last of Us can do that for me, I'm pretty sure one day, a more thought-provoking and emotional zombie movie will be made. But for me, it is not this movie. 

Video Quality

Look at any of the trailers of this movie and you can sort of tell that World War Z is not exactly a pretty or flashy movie that you will use to demo video quality. Its a freaking gritty zombie movie, what do you expect? (Haha...) But that said, there's nothing wrong with this video transfer on a technical level, no distracting compression artifacts, etc., and if there's lack of sharpness or grainy look in the video quality, its more of an intentional look, and the video transfer itself should not be faulted. I suppose the sharpest looking scenes in this movie are those scenes in Israel, in which the image is bright and crisp as you are ever going to get from a gritty movie like this. Its a solid looking transfer, just don't expect it to look as flashy and colourful.

Audio Quality

What you really can use as demo material for this disc is the audio. This is a booming DTS HD Master Audio 7.1 mix that will put you right into the zombie action. Choppers will fly convincingly across the room, gunfire and explosion sound crisp and clear, with plenty of bass in the sub-woofer, like in scenes where the zombies bang on barricaded doors. There's a plane crash in the middle of the film that sounds particularly amazing. It's just simply an excellent soundtrack that will definitely put a grin on any audiophile. Crank it up!


Not much special features on this disc here, a few behind-the-scenes documentary here and there, and as I mentioned before, nothing is mentioned regarding the alternate third act that was completely cut from the film. It should also be mentioned that this is the 2D theatrical cut Blu-ray that I'm reviewing.


Well, what else can I say about this movie that hasn't been mentioned earlier? If you like zombie movies, and watching it for some intense non-stop zombie action and not care much for character development in your zombie movie, I think you're gonna like this one even more perhaps, and you're gonna get your money's worth, so buy it if you want. Not for non-zombies fan like myself though. If you are in that group, maybe you might wanna give it a rental, see whether this movie can convince you into liking zombie movies, maybe this movie speaks to you into zombies that it couldn't on me. The video and audio presentation are, after all, superb, so maybe its good to rent for some solid, if forgettable, zombie action entertainment.

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