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Brad Pitt, centre, Abigail Hargrove and Mireille Enos in a scene from World War Z. AP PHOTO
Might there be a real-life zombie
apocalypse one day?
Not likely, but then again, the way
zombies have chomped their way into
our pop culture the last several years,
it's maybe a bit less implausible than
it once was.
What is increasingly quite plausible,
alas, is a scary global pandemic, and
World War Z, the long-awaited Brad
Pitt thriller, cleverly melds that real-
life threat into the more fanciful zombie
Talk about more bang for your buck:
Once you've settled back into your seat
after a good snarling zombie chase,
there's nothing like the thought of a
SARS outbreak to get the blood racing
But let's just say right here that the
one apocalypse you won't see in World
War Z, based on the 2006 novel by
Max Brooks (son of Mel), is an artistic
There was lots of talk about this
mega-budget 3D movie, co-produced
by Pitt and directed by Marc Forster,
falling on its $200-million plus feet,
what with a postponed release, a re-
shot ending, endless script drafts and
major crew changes along the way.
But in the end, it's pretty much what
you'd want in a summer blockbuster:
scary but not-too-gross zombies, a
fast-paced journey to exotic locales, a
few quite thrilling action scenes, and
did we mention Brad Pitt?
Oh right, we did. Surely this isn't a
performance to rival Pitt's work in
Moneyball or The Tree of Life, but
given the lack of time for nuanced char-
acter development, it hardly seems
meant to be.
What Pitt offers the film is pretty
much what his character, a level-headed
former UN investigator, offers the
endangered planet: Nothing too flashy,
just a comfortable, intelligent presence
that keeps things grounded and just
might win the day.
That last part, of course, remains to
be seen: The filmmakers hope World
War Z is just the first in a franchise.
And so, the story may have a long way
But the beginning---especially the
first half of this movie---is promising.
As fans of the book know, it was
written as an oral history, a collection
of individual accounts. The filmmakers
wisely ditched that format for the sake
We begin in Philadelphia, on a sunny
morning in the kitchen of Gerry Lane
(Pitt), his wife Karin (Mireille Enos,
expressive well beyond her few lines),
and their two daughters.
We learn quickly that Gerry has
abandoned his former harrowing
work---investigating crimes in places
like Rwanda, Bosnia and Liberia---in
favour of a nice home life.
As the family drives off for the day,
though, life changes in an instant. The
streets of Philadelphia are suddenly
and terrifyingly overrun by packs of
wild, raging zombies. Once bit, it takes
only seconds for a human to turn into
Talk about a leadership vacuum: The
president is already dead. Thanks to
his former UN boss, Gerry's family is
whisked to an aircraft carrier, but there's
a wee price for this protection: Gerry
must head out to find the source of
For an hour, the action is swift: Clues
gathered at a prison complex in North
Korea lead Gerry to Israel, the only
country to have smartly employed the
use of walls, artificial and ancient.
But then those persistent zombies
stretch themselves into a teeming, ter-
rifying tower of un-humanity. Gerry
escapes just in time---for a seriously
harrowing plane-crash sequence.
The final act takes place on a dra-
matically smaller scale, and at a slower
Not to give away too much, but this
is where Gerry's scientific instincts---
and that Brad Pitt calm---will come into
It's worth noting that there are, amid
the mayhem, occasional touches of
humour. And one of them serves as a
prudent reminder---to turn off those
After all, it's not just your movie-
going partner you'll annoy here.
Cellphones also happen to awaken
zombies. Consider yourself warned.
• World War Z, a Paramount
Pictures release, is rated PG-13 for
intense frightening zombie
sequences, violence and disturbing
images. Running time: 116 minutes.
Three stars out of four.
thrill in WWZ
What Pitt offers the film is
pretty much what his character, a
level-headed former UN
investigator, offers the
endangered planet: Nothing too
flashy, just a comfortable,
intelligent presence that keeps
things grounded and just might
win the day.
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