World War Z (Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray)

Former United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop a zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments and threatens to destroy humanity itself.

July 28, 2023 9 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

You know, I think if zombies were actually real (they’re not), then I wouldn’t really like to be one.  Do you ever see a zombie having a good time in movies?  No.  They’re either mindlessly walking around in a circle or walking/running and hoping for that one bite of human flesh that will temporarily appease their inhumane hunger.  I guess, to them, it doesn’t really matter though since they’re dead and have probably lost the capability of rational thought when they, well, died.  These are things that I think of when I watch a zombie movie and if World War Z isn’t one of the highest profile ones out there then I don’t know what is.  The budget was near $200 million, but it had Brad Pitt attached to star and produce and…that’s about all you need.  Based on Max Brooks’ 2006 novel of the same name, World War Z doesn’t break new ground in terms of “zombie movies” but rather gives us more of a look from a global perspective.  That and Brad Pitt has already played a vampire in 1994’s Interview with a Vampire so I guess all he really needs to do after this is play a werewolf.  Now that I’d pay to see.

Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is an investigator for the United Nations. He’s former military, but is now living the domestic life with his wife (Michelle Enos) and kids.  But things quickly change from normal to outright weird when his hometown of Philadelphia turns into a police state and is populated by zombies.  Yes, zombies.  Gerry and his family barely escape the city, only to face pretty much the exact same scenario in Newark, New Jersey.  But fate has other plans for Gerry and his family and they’re whisked off in the nick of time to an aircraft carrier where Gerry awaits his assignment. Thierry Umutoni (Fana Mokoena), director of the United Nations, has a job for Gerry – figure out what caused the zombies and stop it from spreading. It’s not really a request, more of an order.  So off goes Gerry to the far reaches of the while seemingly evading every undead person along the way.  Can or will Gerry figure out how to stop the undead or is Earth doomed?

As I’d mentioned above, World War Z doesn’t really cover any new ground when it comes to zombies. I’d guess if there were a down side to the zombie genre that’d be it – there’s only a finite amount of things you can do with creatures who just want to eat flesh.  I will say, however, that the movie was taut, tense and thrilling and really wasted no time getting to the action. This may be Brad Pitt’s first all out action movie and I’d read where this was his highest-grossing film he’s ever starred in?  I find that a little hard to believe, personally, but it was said on the radio so therefore it must be true. Of note, the zombies in this movie are fast!  Yeah man, they run at their target and don’t just mindlessly travel at .025 miles per hour.  Nope, once they get a sense of a meal, they’re off!  I liked that.  Though the cast of characters is long, make no doubt about it that this is Brad Pitt’s movie all the way through.  Fans will love it (I did), even if the zombie genre might be getting a little played out.

Video: How’s it look?

The original Blu-ray came from a studio that produced a $200 million movie. It looked great.  Yay! With the “advent” of 4K, we’ve got a new disc that breathes new life (sorry, couldn’t resist) into this transfer. But…did it need it?  I was looking, really I was, for something – anything to note in this section of the review.  Nope.  Nothin’ doin’. I really couldn’t find a fault with the way this looks.  Textures on the zombies is perfect (they’re fast-moving suckers, too), the forehead wrinkles in Brad Pitt’s forehead are clearly visible showing that he, like the rest of us, is human and does in fact age.  Colors are a bit on the muted side, but it’s intentional.  The world is in a state of disarray and a good portion of the population is undead so do we expect bold and vibrant colors?  Nope.  Grey, blacks and darkness.  No sign of artifacting.  This is a step up in video quality from the Blu-ray, but as we’ve come to expect – it’s not a night and day difference. Purists, though, will want this one over the Blu-ray.

Audio: How’s it sound?

Unfortunately this is where the upgrades stop. We get a DTS HD Master Audio mix that seems to be the same one use for the Blu-ray. The LFE literally had my room shake a few times and I didn’t think that my sub was big enough to warrant that effect.  Dialogue is crisp and spot on, though Brad Pitt seems to have a few scenes in which he whispers.  Surround effects are bold and brash and add tension and adrenaline to a majority of scenes.  These zombies react to sound, so when a character steps on a piece of glass – your ears perk up and you listen.  While not the definitive example that the video is, I can say without a doubt that no one will be let down by the way this sounds.

Supplements: What are the extras?

All of the existing features have been ported over on the Blu-ray of this set (Theatrical Cut, not the Extended).

Disc One (4K) – No features.

Disc Two (Blu-ray/Theatrical Cut)

  • Origins – Director Marc Forster talks of making this movie, its development and history and of course, working with Mr. Brad Pitt.
  • Looking to Science – We actually get a bit of a history lesson here and learn that zombies didn’t really make any sort of appearance until the 1920’s.  We also get somewhat of a zombie “how to” guide in scientific terms.
  • Outbreak – The first scene in Philadelphia (actually Glasgow, Scotland) is shown and we see some of the tricks and CGI that kicked the movie off.
  • The Journey Begin – Moving onto South Korea (that’s the good one for anyone that’s confused), we get a look at the sequence there along with the military team led by Matthew Fox.
  • Behind the Wall – One of the more iconic images for this movie features a literal wall of zombies attempting to get over it. This took place in the Jeruselem sequence and we learn some of the practical motivations for this (hint: ants).
  • Camouflage – We then go to the climatic scene in which Gerry and the zombies meet for the last time and get a look back at this financial beast of a movie.

Disc Three (Blu-ray/Extended Cut) – No features.

The Bottom Line

There are no shortages of selections when it comes to zombie movies. Likely there’ll be one out there for you. I happen to gravitate towards this one, though it’s not my favorite (gotta go with Shaun of the Dead or Dawn of the Dead there). Still, this makes for a thrilling movie to watch and if you’re after the definitive version – look no further.

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