Art of the Real 728x90 Film Comment Film Society of Lincoln Center

Blockbuster Pick: World War Z

By Calum Marsh

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(Paramount, $29.99)

Its cannibalistic aggressors may be the newly risen undead, but World War Z hardly seems interested in zombies as they have traditionally been rendered. The subject is rather the unnavigable disorientation that follows when the world is swallowed up by the chaos of contagion. It follows, then, that the prevailing sense of social disorder becomes a strangely compelling structuring principle in which the film’s formal shortcomings mirror its theme. Here our hero finds himself thrust into a global pandemic so rampant that it seems beyond comprehension—and so it remains, of course, for the viewer, fixed to one man’s necessarily limited perspective and denied the illumination of a broader view. Ex-position stutters; action is jagged and elliptical; the film forsakes the luxury of repose. Even essential narrative information is conveyed vaguely, littered with contradictions, winding into abstruse curlicues of scientific and military jargon. That it never quite coheres seems to be the point.