PG-13 makes “World War Z” tame but not lame

0 Submitted by on Fri, 21 June 2013, 01:35

Left to right: Mireille Enos is Karin Lane, Fana Mokeona is Thierry Umutoni, and Brad Pitt is Gerry Lane in "World War Z." Photo: Jaap Buitendijk

By Sandra Kraisirideja

“World War Z” is suspenseful and entertaining even though its zombies are of the PG-13 variety and not as gruesome as they might be if the movie was rated R.

If blood and guts are what you’re looking for then “World War Z” is going to be a huge disappointment. The zombie genre by default is a subset of the horror genre, which implies there is going to be a certain amount of gore, but there’s hardly any blood in “World War Z” and absolutely no scenes where victims’ skins are torn away as they are eaten alive. “The Walking Dead” has actually more stomach-turning scenes than anything in “World War Z.”

Of course this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who is familiar with the Max Brooks book on which the movie is based, although that is a far stretch. The novel is written as first-person recollections on a war that has ended and its very dry for a zombie story. It focuses more on the geo-political and sociological ramifications of a zombie apocalypse rather than the gore.

The most terrifying point of the movie for me was the realization that if I‘m not close buddies with a high-level government official in the military or United Nations, then I’m pretty much toast when the zombie apocalypse does happen. Nobody is going to send a helicopter to my location to take me and my family to safety, that’s for sure.

If you can live with the idea that a zombie movie doesn’t also have to be a horror movie then “World War Z” can be seen as a satisfying action-thriller with great performances.

Directed by Marc Forster (“Monster’s Ball”), “World War Z” follows former United Nations investigator Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) as he crisscrosses the globe in order to find the cause, and hopefully the cure, for a terrifying plague that seems to be turning people into zombies.

Cinematographer Ben Seresin (“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”) knows how to frame enormous action sequences and the scene where the zombies scale the wall is impressive. “World War Z” feels very much like a summer movie and should be seen in the theater.

Even with the big action there are quiet, emotional moments in the movie too. Pitt and Mireille Enos, who plays his wife, Karin, are believable as husband and wife even though they are only together for about 20 minutes in film’s first half.

What is refreshing about Pitt in the lead is that he keeps the character grounded. He isn’t some super hero cop or special operative who goes in with guns blazing to save the day. Gerry Lane is an ordinary family man who has been in dangerous situations but tends to use his intellect more than muscle. Of course he knows how to handle a gun and does fight off zombies, but it’s never over-the-top.

According to a cover story in the June issue of “Vanity Fair,” Damon Lindelof (“Lost”) was brought in after principal filming had been completed to help write a new ending and some new scenes that could be incorporated into the movie so the ending wouldn’t feel tacked on. Whatever Lindelof did, it worked. The ending is in keeping with the tone of the rest of the movie.

“World War Z” is a mainstream zombie movie that is a perfect fit for the summer and shows just how popular the zombie genre has become.


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