‘World War Z’ prioritizes story over gory

Brad Pitt in World War Z (2013)

World War Z (2013)

Directed by Marc Forster

8/10  PG-13

Your eyes won’t be able to keep up when the humans turn to “zekes” in Marc Forster’s smart, fast-paced zombie epic “World War Z.” Does anyone remember the first rule of Zombieland? It’s aerobics. And it’s even more important here, where zombies will sprint at speeds of 20 miles an hour at the sound of a pin drop. And you thought “The Walking Dead” was terrifying.

Brad Pitt, who’s dressed for another Chanel commercial, is Gerry Lane, a former UN employee who’s called back to the field when a quick-spreading zombie pandemic is reported across all corners of the globe. Leaving his wife (Mireille Enos) and two young daughters isn’t easy, but his particular set of skills makes him the last hope of finding the cause and cure of the zombification outbreak.

Pitt and Enos typify a loving movie family, making their eventual separation all the more traumatic for the audience. First, you relate, then you freak. And Gerry doesn’t have the luxury of hearing about the outbreak in time to protect his family. No, they’re caught right in the middle of it. “Movement is life” he says, as he runs like hell to escape the madness. They’ll discover that movement is also afterlife, and running from these zombies takes more than most legs can handle.

Brad Pitt and Daniella Kertesz in World War Z (2013)

The true beauty of “World War Z” is that you no longer have to blindly believe that a zombie outbreak can occur. Max Brooks’ novel and Marc Forster’s film go into painstaking detail when explaining the precise cause and effect of the zombification. You can imagine this happening. And the poignancy of the dialogue might surprise you. Brooks would find it a waste of time to write a zombie story if it isn’t the best damn zombie story ever told, and everyone knows a good story needs good dialogue.

But don’t think this is all bark and no bite. The electrifying action and slow-burning suspense make for the perfect balance and fright and excitement. In one scene, the haunting red glow of a road flare is the only thing that might save Gerry and his family from being attacked in a long, dark hallway. Silence and the soft, red glow reaching only a few feet in front of them.  It perfects the art of suspense. It’s the stuff your favorite video games are made of. It’s a breathtaking pressure-cooker ready to explode. But when it does, you don’t see the blood and guts you might expect. And honestly, that’s the best part. It doesn’t need gory; it has a story.

“World War Z” isn’t your typical zombie flick. It’s a cinematic achievement, from its acting and CGI (300 zombified Jews trying to climb a barrier wall around Jerusalem is a sight to behold) to its tense score and intimate cinematography. Rush to see it.

2 thoughts on “‘World War Z’ prioritizes story over gory

    1. It definitely emphasizes the possibility of something like this happening, more than most zombie media does. That in itself, and the paranoid thoughts that follow, are pretty freaky. But I actually thought some parts of the script were rather well-written. It’s not Oscar material, but if it were it’d be the best movie ever. Action movies don’t need award-caliber scripts, but I think, compared to its zombie peers, this one was pretty good. Thanks for reading!

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