Blu-ray Review: World War Z

World War Z Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Paramount | DIRECTOR: Marc Forster | CAST: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, Matthew Fox, James Badge Dale, David Morse
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 9/17/2013 | PRICE: DVD $29.99, Blu-ray/DVD Combo $39.99, Blu-ray 3D Combo $49.99
BONUSES: unrated edition, featurettes
SPECS: PG-13/NR | 115/122 min. | Horror | 16×9 1080p high-definition video | 7.1 DTS-HD audio | English, French, Spanish, Portuguese subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

World War ZDirector Marc Forster’s (Machine Gun Preacher) horror movie World War Z presents a bleak and hopeless future with a zombie apocalypse. Not that The Waking Dead is particularly cheery, but the zombies in World War Z are particularly horrific and persistent.

The film is based on a novel, but the adaptation is loose. The novel presents interviews with people in the aftermath of a zombie outbreak, like the United Nations looking at what went wrong. The movie version focuses on one UN investigator who’s actually in the fray as opposed to after it.

Brad Pitt (Killing Them Softly) plays Gerry Lane, a former UN investigator who becomes the go-to guy when a disease rapidly turns the majority of the worldwide population into flesh eaters. Gerry leaves behind his wife (Mireille Enos, Gangster Squad) and two children in a military safe harbor as he travels the world following the path of the disease to determine a cause and thus a cure, a la Outbreak.

Pitt’s performance is good, as is Enos as his concerned wife. In fact, all the players are good, including Ludi Boeken who we learn in the Blu-ray special features is actually a friend of Forster’s and has done limited acting. This speaks to Forster’s skill as a director. He made a name for himself with character-driven stories, such as Monster’s Ball and Finding Neverland but cut his teeth on action films with the 2008 James Bond entry Quantum of Solace.

In World War Z, Forster’s straight-forward and realistic visual style is there, as well as plenty of tension to keep viewers interested. The story is where the film lacks, with lots of moments that many viewers could question as plausible or convenient, but Forster moves quickly forward with another visually arresting scene that pulls viewers back again.

The Blu-ray picture is sharp and the 7.1 DTS-HD sound is awesome. The zombie screech might as well be in the same room as you. And the Blu-ray disc has an unrated version of the film with an additional seven minutes of footage not in the theatrical version. Note: The unrated movie is the only version on the Blu-ray disc. The Blu-ray package comes with a standard-definition DVD as well, and the theatrical version is on the DVD. The new footage is integrated into the unrated version well and viewers might be hard-pressed to notice the additions.

The Blu-ray also comes with a handful of featurettes, which are quick but interesting. They explore the adaptation of the book, the movie’s casting, locations and the techniques they employed to shoot some of the spookier zombie sequences.

Some of the most fascinating tidbits in the featurettes are the history of zombies and that they came from a based-on-true-life legend from Haiti in the 1800s and the film designers’ inspiration for the zombies’ movements and actions in the film. We’ll give you a hint: They’re some of the smallest but most intelligent insects around.

The best part is, there’s no gushing about how wonderful people are in any of the featurettes — thank you, producer Laurent Bouzereau. Not too long, they’re all worth sitting through.

Buy or Rent World War Z
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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.