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World War Z (Blu-ray / DVD)

Cover art:

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World War Z (2013)Starring Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, Daniella Kertesz, David Morse, Matthew Fox, Elyes Gabel

Directed by Marc Forster

Distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment


Max Brooks’ novel World War Z stands as one of the finest pieces of zombie-themed literature in existence. The popularity of the book spread like wildfire, and a big screen version based upon the huge bestseller was a given. Unfortunately, except for the occasional nod, the movie doesn’t have very much in common with Brooks’ original vision… but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s bad. In fact, despite all of its troubles on its way to completion, and lord knows they’ve been documented countless times all over the web, the flick is actually pretty damned good.

The main difference between the novel and the film is that whereas the book read like a history of the great zombie outbreak from various standpoints, the movie focuses mainly on the story of one character named Gerry Lane (Pitt), a former United Nations employee who now spends his time devoting his life to his adoring wife (Mireille Enos) and two young daughters. Without going into detail, it’s not long before the proverbial shit hits the fan, and all of a sudden Gerry is called back to duty as a means to help solve the quick acting zombie epidemic that’s now sweeping the entire planet. For a more in-depth look at the film itself, click here as our theatrical review pretty much nails the film’s strengths and weaknesses.

What we are here to focus on right now is the Blu-ray as well as what’s on everyone’s minds… the word UNRATED. There’s no doubt about it; one of World War Z‘s biggest flaws, especially for fans of the horror genre, was its lack of gore. The PG-13 rating certainly didn’t do the flick any favors. Sure, it opened theatrically to a wider audience, but wouldn’t said audience also be the same ones who watch “The Walking Dead” on AMC? That show’s as violent as even the goriest of zombie movies. Who knows? We can only speculate. Anyway, the theatrical version of World War Z clocked in at 1 hour and 55 minutes. The unrated cut runs just over 2 hours and 2 minutes. So the question beckons… does this extended version deliver the goods, or do we just get more exposition with a hint of grue scattered about?

Surprisingly enough, the exposition is held at bay, and just about all the extra minutes are devoted to making the film’s more intense set pieces that much more intense. Especially the siege in Israel and the airplane moments. There’s some really nutty stuff there. While still far from an epic bloodbath, there are fewer cutaways from the onscreen violence. Several added headshots, the obliteration of half of a zombie’s head via machine gun, and a good old fashioned face-stomp encompass the highlights of the unrated version and definitely spice things up. While watching the extended cut, you can clearly see that the filmmakers were flirting with the notion of a hard R rating while in production but chose instead to play it a bit more safe. There’s no question though… unrated is easily the superior way to watch World War Z.

In terms of the home video packages available, there are three – a theatrical cut DVD, an unrated Blu-ray/DVD combo that includes the theatrical cut on the enclosed DVD, and an unrated 3D Blu-ray/Blu-ray/DVD combo. Unfortunately, the 3D Blu-ray is of the PG-13-rated version so the only way you’re gonna be getting the extra tidbits outlined above is on the standard Blu. In terms of picture and sound quality, the Blu-ray performs like a champ, delivering deep blacks, vibrant colors, life-like skin tones, and razor-sharp detail. We’re talking textbook HD here, kids. Add in the 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, which is wonderfully mixed, and you’ve got yourself a winner from a technical standpoint. The only area in which this package stumbles a bit is the supplemental department.

Included here are two quick featurettes clocking in at about eight minutes each and a look at the film’s production which is broken down into four parts that total about thirty-six minutes of your standard behind-the-scenes stuff. Check below for details on each. Now don’t get me wrong; this isn’t exactly a bad haul, but man, is the presentation dry. I mean arid. Aside from a few shining and brief spots, the material presented here lacks any sort of personality and comes off as a banal experience at best. Nowhere is the first cut of the film ever addressed, and there are no deleted scenes from the original third act that was re-shot. If you’re curious as to how World War Z originally ended, click here. It’s like this never existed or something. Pity, too. It would have been pretty neat to at least see bits and pieces of it.

All in all, World War Z is a rock-solid purchase for zombie fans to sink their teeth into. Sure, the Jenga-zombies we saw in all of the trailers looked kind of goofy when taken out of context, but within the movie itself the spectacle of it all is pretty damned hard not to appreciate. Will we see a new version down the road once the sequel hits? A collector’s edition with every bell and whistle imaginable including the excised original second third act? Probably, but for right now this is as good as it gets, and there’s little to complain about. Take the time. Check it out. You may just find yourself pleasantly surprised.

Blu-ray Special Features

  • Feature film in high definition (Unrated version)
  • “Origins” — The filmmakers discuss collaborating with renowned actor/producer Brad Pitt to create a zombie film the likes of which have never been seen.
  • “Looking to Science” — Explore the scientific realities of zombie behavior in nature and learn more about zombies in literature and film.
  • WWZ: Production
    – “Outbreak” — Go on set with Brad Pitt and director Marc Forster for a behind-the-scenes look at the film’s breathtaking first attack in Philadelphia.
    – “The Journey Begins” — Delve deeper into Gerry’s fight for survival during the dramatic escape in South Korea.
    – “Behind the Wall” — Explore the epic scene in Jerusalem and discover the incredible logistics of creating the elaborate stunts and crowd sequences.
    – “Camouflage” — Experience the final confrontation between Gerry and the zombies and discover the phenomenal scope of the film’s production.

    DVD Special Features

  • Feature film in standard definition (Theatrical version)

    Film:

    3 1/2 out of 5

    Special Features:

    3 out of 5

    Discuss World War Z in the comments section below!

  • Steve Barton

    You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.

    • frank_dracman

      You guys are total re-re’s. “Brad Pit Saves The World From The 28 Days Later Contagion” was awful. Boring with zero suspense from the simple fact when Brad’s onscreen he’s safe from harm felt very limited in scope. He goes places, sees stuff and leaves. This and the remake of War of the Worlds are two movies I will avoid in the future. No amount of gore could have saved this vanity project.

    • Crowley

      Potential Spoilers within, I apologize in advance.

      Drives me crazy that no one seems seriously bothered by the fact that this movie has absolutely no concept of consequences? A boat subplot that goes nowhere, wife and kids plot that goes nowhere, a man taking an unknown major contagion into his body showing no effects whatsoever at the end of the movie despite the weak attempt at drama with the cardboard written message held up to a security camera? A 10 year old kid who doesn’t cry at his parents turning into zombies, nor at seeing father zombie get taken down by helicopter shooters. The whole movie is about bad things happening to “other” people, while Gerry has the opportunity to keep his family safe. And even after that supposedly falls through, his family is still safe. Why did they need the boat in the first place? Still can’t believe the acclaim this poorly executed mess has received. It is a collection of a few cool zombie scenarios (lets have them go right over the walls. yes, now lets put zombies on a plane!) thrown together with a threadbare plot to sustain it at best.

    • Screamz

      Didn’t care for the book much, thought it was a bit boring, but I did enjoy the hell out of the movie. Can’t wait to check out the unrated version. Great review as always…

    • theGoldenSimatar

      I honestly didn’t take too much notice of the PG-13 nature of the film outside of when a character got their arm cut off. It was a film that wasn’t centered around the zombie money shots of people being devoured; it was a film about momentum and the oppressive wave that is impossible to stop. If they lingered on someone getting torn limb from limb; during the opening or during the Israel escape it would have just killed the momentum and energy.

      I give it a 7 out of 10 all in and certainly it’s the zombie film I’ve been wanting to see for a long time. Outside of Resident Evil 4 /5 and a few shots in Land of the Dead there has never been a zombie film of this scale. And that has to be appreciated for what it’s worth.

      I’m quite depressed that the original third act material is nowhere to be found. Maybe if a sequel is produced the material will be released as “yeah this is the direction we were going to go in and the franchise would go in”. Part of me was wondering if any of it would be incorporated back into the film as part of the Unrated Cut. How…I dunno movie magic.

      A little sad as well (though not too surprised) that the 3D disc is the theatrical version; seems to be the standard way to go.

      Though is the iTunes digital copy the Unrated version or Theatrical?

      • Uncle Creepy

        The digital copy was not available for download at press time. And BTW the arm scene is A LOT more graphic.

        • theGoldenSimatar

          Ah okay, odd as the Unrated Cut is already on sale at iTunes o.0 Will have to find out when I download.

          Okay cool. that scene was the only thing to bring me out of the film because it was so obvious they were trying to hide it. The scene became more glaring when I saw Wolverine; even with the theatrical release I was surprised they got a PG-13.

    • Diavolo

      As much as I wanted to hate this film on principle, I have to say that it was pretty good. If anyone could be bothered to look back at all the previous comments I’ve made on this film prior to seeing it, you’ll see how much I loathed everything we were hearing about it. Once you get past the complete disregard they have for the source material and the definition of what a ‘zombie’ is, you should be fine. View without prejudice and treat it as a disaster movie (with Brad Pitt simultaneously playing the unluckiest and luckiest man in the world).
      This is probably the most lavish ‘zombie’ film we’ll ever get, try to enjoy it for that.
      As an aside, this is far closer to ‘Plague of the Dead: The Morningstar Strain’ by the late Z. A. Recht, than it is to ‘World War Z’.

    • GODFLESH69

      I waited in anticipation for what seemed like forever to get my own opinion of the film adaptation of WWZ things started looking bad rewrites, reshoots , delays, the PG13 thing. I went in not expecting much and that’s about what I got Epic in scale as it was with some really cool CGI visuals it was a neutered zombie film that didn’t resemble the source material that inspired it. . I’ll check this additional 7 min of footage out but still wont be what i hoped for this movie to be, but it made bank so they’ll at least have a follow up to one of the worst abrupt & telegraphed endings i can recall.I didn’t hate it but totally forgettable , hope next one is done better.

    • LSD Zombie

      When I wasn’t laughing my ass off at how ridiculous the “zombies” looked and acted, I found myself drifting off due to extreme boredom. Recycling the opening to a Muse song over and over again didn’t help break up the monotony either. I thought zombie movies were supposed to instill a sense of fear and horror? Which is something that WWZ completely failed to do. I would give it 0 knives.

      The Dead is a far more terrifying and unbearably tense zombie flick. Notice I didn’t put zombie in quotation marks when referring to The Dead. That’s because there are no real zombies in World War Z.