Mother Nature – The Serial Killer

In a post-pandemic society, World War Z holds added power in the decade since its release. With his final message, United Nations investigator Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) says, “Help each other,” a succinct message that’s relevant through any hardship, even if backed by the absurdity of a zombie outbreak.

Using the UN and WHO as a backdrop, there’s a grounded legitimacy to this zombie story when compared to others that lean on gore and violence. In its original theatrical form, World War Z is PG-13 and that remains the perfect rating as to not overstep into anything visually gruesome, focused instead on the event, not just gory spectacle.

In World War Z, no one has any joy left

World War Z acts with immediacy, placing Gerry in crowded New Jersey traffic as the outbreak begins to unleash its unique hell. The script doesn’t allow time to think whether this is real – it is, and the only solution is running, which thousands do, all at once. Later, adding plausibility is a trip to Jerusalem, intelligently bringing context and backstory that settles how anyone, upon hearing the word “zombie,” would respond proactively.

Rather than use this horror sub-genre as a parable as with others like Night of the Living Dead, World War Z treats it with a lens of what if this were legitimate? While still filled with trailer-bound visual effects and growing hordes, the fear is simpler, and that’s entirely on the realism. Tension jumps from frantic chases blasting music and gunfire to subdued stealth where a simple rolling can is worthy of complete breathlessness.

The backdrop concerns Gerry’s family, and his cause to return home. That’s simple and universally understood motivation, enough to set Gerry on his mission while calling it character development. World War Z isn’t rich in individual depth, yet uses the world to show the conditions. At a Jerusalem port, a woman begins singing, an attempt to bring joy to a desperate situation. That sound causes chaos and death as the undead claw their way over the protective walls seeking the sound. In World War Z, no one has any joy left, and like Gerry’s family-based motivation, it’s understood to an audience his goal is greater than his kids or wife. A pause, relief, and escape matter for the entire world population.

World War Z 4K UHD screen shot

Video

Advertised as a fresh 4K scan, the end result is typically just okay. It’s overall soft, lacking the tightest definition expected of 4K masters. While digital effects/extensions naturally turn softer, it’s unusual elsewhere, if not lacking in texture. Close-ups can drive detail into the frame cleanly. World War Z doesn’t look terrible so much as struggle to show its worth as an upgrade. World War Z has a full digital tinge that’s inherent to the source.

That goes for color too, hewing hard toward the 2010’s orange/teal palette. Dolby Vision can only add so much, and it does in terms of density. Some fire-lit scenery absolutely glows with the additional heft afforded by the format. Same goes for shots lit only by a flare, the reds striking.

A spark in the contrast lifts the explosions, intense in their glow. Any fire source is, whether candles or the flare. Fantastic shadow depth provides dimension that elevates this cinematography. World War Z doesn’t look awful. This isn’t a botched transfer, but the imagery is lacking the pop to justify full price. And then comes the audio…

Audio

Bizarrely, Scream/Shout includes a DTS-HD 5.1 mix on the UHD, a downgrade from the 7.1 track on Paramount’s Blu-ray. It’s almost certainly the same track, just minus the two additional rears. That makes approximately (*check notes*) zero sense.

That said, opening logos carry a slow drumbeat, ominous and hearty with LFE, setting a precedent the rest of this mix will match. While there are disappointments inbound, especially a plane crash that leads in with more bass than when slamming ground, the mix is often brutal enough to satisfy.

Material moves from passive kitchen conversation to crowded streets before being awoken by a rogue garbage truck slamming into vehicles in the traffic stand still. You cannot miss it, with scattered debris taking to the surrounds and LFE rushing to deliver impact. It is loud, boomy, and satisfying. Action is consistently perfect, aided by assistance with plane engines, or flawless ambient noise. Rain is exceptionally broad in its application, and inside a safe zone at sea, frantic phone calls sweep around into stereos in addition to the rears. Gunshots offer varied pop, with clean highs, pitchy silencers, and booming heavy machine guns. When sound becomes crucial to story, echoes enhance mistakes within closed walls.

Extras

Note the extended cut is given its own Blu-ray, while the UHD contains only the theatrical version. Extras are passable otherwise, beginning with Origins at eight minutes, tackling the novel and how it could never translate to film despite being rich in material. Looking to Science is seven minutes, boasting about realities, plausibility, and research.

World War Z Production splits into four parts, just passing 36-minutes, focusing on multiple aspects of the shoot in detail. It’s worth watching.

World War Z
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 37 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:


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