Sunday, June 23, 2013

Review: 'World War Z" gets a B-minus (yes, some spoilers)

Philadelphia just hasn't been the same since the zombies moved in.
"World War Z" confirms something that some of my friends have been telling me for quite some time: I'm old.

I can remember when movie zombies were slow and stupid. In "WWZ," they move with reckless abandon in pursuit of their non-infected human victims. OK, none of the undead is likely to win a Nobel Prize. At the same time, though, they have enough brain power - or maybe single-mindedness - to overwhelm much of the human race.

That's because, as is often the case in horror films, the humans can be surprisingly dense themselves. In "WWZ," there's no better example of humanity slitting its own throat than the Israelis. At first glance, you have to give the Israelis credit. Decades of being at war with their neighbors have heightened their awareness of self-preservation. As soon as news of the mysterious zombie outbreak becomes public, Israel erects gigantic walls to keep the zombie hordes at bay. It has something to do with a "10th man" protocol. Then, inexplicably, the Israelis do not realize the zombies are attracted by noise and allow a massive crowd to sing and chant just inside the walls. It's like an open invitation for the zombies to breach the barriers.

Brad Pitt, of course, rises above all of this as Gerry Lane, a former U.N. expert - on what, we're never quite sure - who is called upon to save humanity while, yes, leaving his family behind.

The movie bounces from pandemic-stricken area to pandemic-stricken area - Philadelphia, South Korea, Israel and Wales - as Pitt tries to trace the origin of the outbreak in an effort to find a cure. Spoiler alert: Pitt never discovers how the tragedy got started, but still helps produce a vaccine that at least offers hope to humanity (read: sequel) and is, yes, reunited with his family.

Strangely, "WWZ" is that rare zombie movie that is rated PG-13. That curious choice keeps the movie from being overwhelmed by gore. The action moves at a brisk, straightforward pace without falling into too many cliches. In other words, for example (another spoiler), Pitt does not become romantically involved with the young female Israeli soldier (Daniella Kertesz) who joins him on his mission.

All in all, it's a satisfying, if somewhat sanitized, flick of the undead. Call it Zombie Lite.


  1. It sounds like it deserves a B+ Harvey. I heard the ending was changed, so I'm assuming they tacked on a happy ending.

  2. It lost a few points for things I did not mention to avoid more spoilers. For instance - spoiler! - if you're expecting your team to run into zombie trouble, how smart is it to include a person who has only one hand?

  3. I feel like I am the only one who noticed the Doctors at W.H.O. In Cardiff are the ones who came up with the WHO Vaccine which camouflages the living.