Movies: World War Z

The zombies in World War Z are not your mother’s zombies from Night of the Living Dead. They’re not even your zombies from the last season of The Walking Dead. No, these zombies move quickly, in large vicious packs and are spreading their not-quite-dead disease around the world in a scary pandemic.

The traffic jam in Philadelphia in which Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) finds himself and his family is caused by the arrival of zombies in the city.
Photo: ©2013 Paramount Pictures

It begins in a Philadelphia traffic jam, when Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), his wife (Mirelle Enos) and their daughters are stopped by a swarm of zombies. The sickness has come to the USA with a vengeance. Pitt, a retired UN worker/troubleshooter is called back to duty. His attempt to fight zombies takes him to South Korea, Jerusalem, Cardiff and, with his family, to a “safe” battleship.

Along the way, our hero meets lots of brave people and see lots of horrific stuff. But, probably because it’s Brad Pitt, we watch the proceedings with a sense that all will be well.

Director Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball, Quantum of Solace, Finding Neverland, among others) based his film on the 2006 book of the same title by Max Brooks (son of Mel and Anne Bancroft). Forster kept the title, but threw out the structure and most of the plot. Forster kept the part where Israel builds a wall around the country for protection but the geopolitics of the book are pretty much absent from the film, as are the multiple points-of-view survivor stories.

But, no matter. While not perfect, World War Z fits the summer blockbuster mold. There’s an attractive hero, a sweet family worth saving, lots of action, interesting settings and some suspense. Also, for a story that threatens to show us the end of the world as we know it, the movie is kind of rousing. We just know Pitt will carry the day.