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World War Z (A Movie Review)

Updated: Feb 25, 2021

World War Z

WORLD WAR Z (2013)

Starring Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale, Ludi Boeken, Matthew Fox, Fana Mokoena, David Morse, Elyes Gabel, Peter Capaldi and Sterling Jerins.

Screenplay by Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard and Damon Lindelof.

Directed by Marc Forster.

Distributed by Paramount Pictures. 116 minutes. Rated PG-13.

In general, I'm not a huge fan of either zombie movies or post-apocalyptic tales, so it's rather surprising how entertaining I found World War Z to be.

Not that it's a great film, but it is certainly an exciting one. It takes a Cliff Notes look at the zombie apocalypse, but it gives its pulpy story a fascinating immediacy as the world falls to a sudden influx of the undead.

World War Z revolves around Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), a retired UN operative (who knew there was such a thing?) who wants to spend his life safe in urban family bliss with his wife and daughters in Philadelphia. A strange new mutation which is turning almost the entire world population into slathering, ravenous zombie hordes and punctures his protective familial cocoon. In an attempt to save his girls and his world, Gerry agrees to help try to figure out what is causing the onslaught.

Therefore he flies all around the world, searching for clues as to the cause of the virulent disease which has formed this catastrophe, barely escaping zombie inundations at every turn.

And that is pretty much it, story wise. Gerry lands in a city, speaks with experts about what is happening, and then watches in horror as the entire place is bombarded by a twitching horde of zombies.

Even this story itself is highly selective. After being immediately swarmed by ravenous killing parties in every corner of the world, Gerry and an injured Israeli soldier are able to walk miles unmolested over a period of hours in Cardiff, Wales, before running across any of the undead desperate for their pound of flesh.

Still as the film is running, the inconsistencies are overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the problem and the breakneck pace of the story.

Also, as zombie films go, World War Z is surprisingly inexplicit. (The better to get kids audience with the PG-13 rating?) While there are constant waves of zombies on the attack for human flesh, there is surprisingly little one-on-one fighting, and the gore tends to be quick and glossed over.

Some people might consider that statement to be a complaint, but I actually found it rather refreshing. I don't need to see people ripped from limb to limb to get the point of the story. As Steven Spielberg proved with Jaws, sometimes the horror you don't see is more unnerving than the horror that you do see.

What you do see is a pandemic, a virulent outbreak which covers the world in a matter of days, and a family man who would much rather be playing house with his girls than searching for the source. There is also a tiny bit of ham-handed political commentary - if we just overlook our differences for the common good, perhaps we won't be mauled by millions of blood-mad killing machines.

However, World War Z doesn't do subtle and it's not really looking to change the world. All it really wants is to be an exciting thrill ride.

Mission accomplished.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2013 All rights reserved. Posted: September 13, 2013.

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