Thanks to the unexpected success of AMC’s The Walking Dead, Zombies are no longer restricted to the independent B-horror genre. They have found their way onto the big screen, with a 190 million dollar budget nonetheless. World War Z was a huge success, a film with a real bite of action and suspense. Fans are now able to continue the adventure in the comforts of their homes thanks to the crisp, punchy and detailed Blu-Ray sound and picture.
Like an unstoppable epidemic, Zombie thrillers keep coming in the dozens. Like the undead, nothing will stop them, except a clean shot to the brain. After a few significant rewrites and reshoots, the Marc Forster directed World War Z bears little resemblance to Max Brooks’ popular book, changing the narrative structure completely. The Z in the title could stand for zombies or, in this case, possibly be associated with the zillions of dollars spent on making this big budget star vehicle for producer Brad Pitt. Reminiscent of 2012 (the movie), World War Z is jammed packed with stupendous action sequences, featuring hordes of CGI undead, guaranteed to keep you entertained. Sadly, after following an exciting first act and a conventional second act, it loses steam in the finale.
When someone says “United Nations investigator” and “family man”, everyone naturally thinks Brad Pitt. Here he plays Gerry Lane, a former investigator, who is forced out of retirement when a zombie pandemic rapidly spreads across the world. His assignment takes him across the world, first to South Korea, then Jerusalem (the only city that was prepared for the attack) and then finally to the World Health Organization headquarters in the UK. Most of the story plays out with the usual familiarities – dark spaces, videogame narrative, stereotypical hero and endless zombie mayhem. The only three things that really distinguishes World War Z from the rest is the breathtaking opening sequence, where rabid hordes of zombies destroy the city, its big budget ($200 million) and Brad Pitt channeling Tom Cruise.
World War Z finds its way onto Blu-ray with a gritty 2.40:1/1080p/AVC-encoded transfer replicating the theatrical experience. The picture quality is intentionally dark and drab, with the colours muted to create the haunting atmospheres. Brad Pitt’s face is crisp, clean and detailed. You’re able to see every tiny imperfection in the close ups. Black levels are good and skin tones are natural. The only problem here is that the high quality picture exposes the use of poor CGI here and there. Often zombies in the backgrounds look like video game characters rather than live action people.
World War Z’s soundtrack explodes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 lossless track that will give audio systems a good workout. The lower frequencies are especially heavy on bass, but the mix ensures that dialogue, music and effects are well-balanced throughout. Crashes, noises and explosions are all spread across the surround sound very well. You might here a collision in one corner of the room and then in the complete opposite side. This is reference-grade material and I doubt anyone without sound training will notice any defects or problems.
Extras always make or break a Blu-ray product. Unfortunately, World War Z plays it safe and offers rather limited extra features. There are only three main extras to be found here:
– Looking to Science
– WWZ: Production
Unfortunately, South Africa seems to be limited to a theatrical cut of the film, where some other countries have included an extended unrated cut to the disc. Pity.
Like many of the other blockbusters (Man of Steel, The Lone Ranger, G.I. Joe Retaliation and Fast Six) out this year, World War Z (a film that’s begging for multiple sequels) doesn’t concern itself too much with story or with breaking the mold. It’s a pure action, disaster zombiefest, filled with face-paced thrills (minus all the blood and gore). To put it lightly, it’s pretty much a lighter 28 Days Later with blockbuster pretentiousness.
If you’re into collecting blockbusters on Blu-Ray then this is an essential buy for your collection. If not, then it might seem a tad underwhelming and you might want should consider Pacific Rim, Man of Steel or some of the other major releases this year.