“World War Z”

Susan Granger’s review of “World War Z” (Paramount Pictures)


If it weren’t propelled by Brad Pitt’s star power, this would be just another apocalyptic, sci-fi zombie thriller with some massive, starkly memorable special effects.

Pitt plays Gerry Lane, a heroic UN troubleshooter who saves the planet from a global zombie pandemic. Not that he really wants to. He’d rather stay home with his wife (Mireille Enos) and daughters (Sterling Jerins, Abigail Hargrove).  But when ravenous zombies attack, turning
Philadelphia and other cities into urban disasters and collapsing our entire social structure, the only way the US military will shelter his family on an aircraft carrier 200 miles off the East Coast is for Gerry to accompany a Harvard epidemiologist (Elyes Gabel) to South Korea, where the virus may have originated.  When that mission fails, Gerry teams up with an Israeli soldier (Daniella Kertesz) as his quest for the cure takes him to the spectacular siege of walled-in Jerusalem, then to a World Health Organization lab in Cardiff, Wales.

Loosely based on a 2006 novel by Max Brooks (son of Mel and Anne Bancroft), scripted by Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard, J. Michael Straczynski and Damon Lindelof,
sequentially, it’s directed by Marc Foster (“Monster’s Ball,” “Quantum of Solace,” “Finding Neverland”).  Reportedly costing $250 million, it’s driven by an aura of dread and urgency and distinguished by its effective chase sequences and CGI zombification of the world.  These undead run, jump, leap, snarl and gnash their teeth – but they don’t really devour anything.

FYI: in movies, zombies metaphorically embodying cultural unease dates back to Bela Lugosi’s “White Zombie” (1932) and was popularized as a genre by George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” (1968).

Dismissing character development, Brad Pitt does the generic “noble white man saves the world” bit, even with a two-foot metal prong bisecting his torso, while MireilleEnos nervously clutches a cellphone and hugs the children, including a youngster (Fabrizio Zacharee Guido) they rescued.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “World War Z” is a choppy, stilted, somewhat scary,
survivalist 6. As for 3D, don’t bother.