World War Z (15, 116 mins)

Director: Marc Forster

3 stars

It was almost two years ago now that the centre of Glasgow was taken over by Hollywood, as George Square and the surrounding streets were transformed into Philadelphia for Brad Pitt's zombie-apocalypse epic World War Z.

Since then rewrites and reshoots have tarnished its reputation somewhat, to the extent that serious questions are being asked about the wisdom of spending $170m on a zombie movie, a genre that flourished in low budget, almost underground circles.

As it turns out it's neither disaster nor total triumph, but a solidly put together thriller with plenty of entertaining scenes. And while Glasgow isn't exactly blink-and-you'll-miss-it, if you miss the first ten minutes, you'll miss Glasgow.

It's where we meet Pitt, his wife and two young daughters, stuck in Philly traffic. We've been hearing news reports of trouble around the world and disease outbreaks, when suddenly all hell breaks loose around them. There's panic in the streets and people attacking each other, attacks that are close up and frantically edited to the point of confusion, compensated for by their intensity, with the sense of fear and danger real enough.

Barely escaping with their lives, the family makes it to an aircraft carrier, where it's soon revealed that they're in the middle of a worldwide zombie infestation. Zombification is almost instantaneous, the walking dead are fast, savage and abundant, and the sustained threat in the early stages is palpable.

As a former United Nations investigator, Pitt is needed to go back into the mix with a scientist to try to find a cure or a way to stop the outbreak. This takes us to Korea for a gloomy and hard to follow sequence that's just a stepping stone to get us to Israel.

This is where the movie really starts to gain traction. For a start everything there happens in daylight, and gives us a proper sense of the scale of the devastation. But the eye-catcher is the sheer number of zombies attacking a walled Jerusalem, and they're working together, forming undead pyramids to great effect, in those spectacular shots from the trailer.

Based on a novel by Max Brooks, World War Z is a reasonably original take on the zombie movie, focussing on the people actively fighting against the hordes, rather than just trying to survive or avoid them. There are some thrills, some tension, and a lot of impressive sights, though Pitt's family become something of an afterthought once they're separated, so emotional investment is limited.

He makes very interesting films, but this is only time outwith Troy that Pitt has been the solo anchor of a summer blockbuster. He's fine in the lead, neither out of his depth nor particularly dynamic. His character is not a man of action, instead using his smarts to pick up clues, and this is a refreshing change.

Things grinds to a halt at the beginning of a third act that brings us back to the UK, before picking up significantly for a well-realised climax, then turning lazy again for an uninspired final outcome. It's a pedestrian end to a patchy action horror that more or less delivers on what it set out to do.

See it if you liked: 28 Days Later, Contagion, I Am Legend

Before Midnight (15, 109 mins)

Director: Richard Linklater

5 stars

With Before Sunrise in 1995 and Before Sunset in 2004, director Richard Linklater along with stars and co-writers Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, redefined in a small but significant way what could be done with relationship dramas, and they remain to this day witty, perceptive and impossibly romantic.

Delpy and Hawke return as Celine and Jesse, now in their early 40s and living in Paris but holidaying in Greece, from where Jesse has just said goodbye to his son from a previous marriage. His return to his mother in the States is the catalyst for them to face up to what might be a crossroads in their relationship, with Jesse broaching the idea that they might move there with their own daughters to be closer to him.

It's still the tried and trusted format as they debate this, walking and talking in long takes, philosophical and intellectual ramblings mingling with the everyday mundane. Older and wiser, their thoughts also turn to the potential longevity of their marriage, even death, but always flecked with humour and warmth.

It's all still thoroughly engaging for what little there actually is, thanks to game-raising writing, acting and direction of the highest order, and the centrepiece scene that takes place in a hotel room where Jesse and Celine have escaped for an evening alone is a mesmerising slice of cinema, brimming with insight and honesty but never in a voyeuristic way.

Whether Linklater, Delpy and Hawke return to these characters at 50 remains to be seen but they have left us, for now at least, with one of the great trilogies.

See it if you liked: Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, 2 Days in Paris

Snitch (12A, 112 mins)

Director: Ric Roman Waugh

3 stars

When a young man gets caught storing drugs for his friend, he faces ten years in jail for distribution unless he works with prosecutors to help find the bigger fish. His father (Dwayne Johnson) is a hard working factory owner, and since the boy won't snitch, he decides the only way he can help is to try to find the bad guys himself.

It's a rather unlikely scenario, yet remarkably one inspired by a true story, as Johnson uses the lorries from his construction company to help transport drugs, getting mixed up with some serious cartel people along the way.

A dim script is full of the obvious, and lots of explanatory dialogue, but you can always bet on Johnson to hold the attention even when the story isn't up to snuff. Still, it's not a muscle-man role, so it doesn't really require someone of his physique and would have benefited from an actor with better range.

But there are some solid scenes with Susan Sarandon's D.A. in among the clunky attempts at hardboiled lingo (it ain't The Wire, that's for sure), and the addition of a couple of half-hearted action chases make Snitch quite silly but passably engaging.

See it if you liked: Faster, Stolen, In the Valley of Elah