Sometimes a movie surprises you. Something you thought was going to be a mid-summer slog or an underwhelming riff on familiar themes turns out to be something more. Familiar tropes are reinvented, a tired villain gets new life, and presumed lines of safety are crossed. You find yourself in the middle of a relentless rush of anxiety, fear, and exhilaration, and when you walk out of the theater you can’t wait to tell someone what you just witnessed.

World War Z is that kind of movie.

The adaptation of Max Brooks’ best-seller has been best known up until this point for its production problems. Last year Paramount delayed the film’s original 2012 release date to allow for extensive reshoots. Much of the blame was laid at the feet of director Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace, Monster's Ball) and a script that hadn’t been ready to shoot. Writers like Damon Lindelof and Cloverfield’s Drew Goddard were brought in to completely rework the film’s third act in an effort to salvage the big-budget tentpole from disaster.