World War Z (15) ****

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Some of Hollywood’s most glittering triumphs have been snatched from the slavering jaws of defeat.

Gone With The Wind was shot by three different directors and suffered numerous delays, yet the sweeping 1939 romance reigned supreme at the Oscars . Joseph L Manciewicz’s 1963 epic Cleopatra was beset with similar problems, almost bankrupting studio Twentieth Century Fox when the budget ballooned from two million to 44 million dollars, yet the dazzling historical drama still garnered four Oscars.

World War Z. Picture: PA Photo/Paramount Pictures UK.

World War Z. Picture: PA Photo/Paramount Pictures UK.

Now comes Brad Pitt’s post-apocalyptic zombie action horror, which has been plagued by rumours of on-set traumas and was delayed by six months to allow filmmakers to completely rewrite and reshoot the final showdown. If poisonous word of mouth could slay a picture before it has even screened, World War Z would be as lifeless as the hordes of computer-generated undead that cram every frame of Marc Forster’s ill-fated film. From this mire though, Forster and three screenwriters have bolted together a compelling survival thriller that is not the catastrophe the gossip-mongers predicted – but also not as slick and suspenseful as cast and crew would have wished.

Gerry Lane (Pitt) is a retired United Nations investigator, who devotes his time to his wife Karin (Mireille Enos) and daughters Constance (Sterling Jerins) and Rachel (Abigail Hargrove). During a drive through Philadelphia, the Lanes witness the spread of a disease which transforms men, women and children into merciless predators with a single bite.

Gerry’s old boss at the UN, Thierry Umutoni (Fana Mokoena), guarantees his family passage on an aircraft carrier if Gerry will travel behind enemy lines to discover the source of the outbreak. The search moves from South Korea to Jerusalem and finally to Wales where Gerry joins the frantic race for a cure.