A review of World War Z,
a movie about zombies that is not interested in zombies. | Nick Olszyk | Catholic World Report
MPAA Rating, PG-13
USCCB Rating, A-III
Reel Rating, (2 out of five)
Zombies are among the greatest MacGuffins in contemporary literature and cinema. Any thoughtful examination of the subject of the living dead leads nowhere, but zombies can be a stand-in for any number of important social issues including immigration, natural disasters, and even romantic tension (see Warm Bodies).
Zombie movies generally fall into two categories: scary thrillers only interested in seeing screaming teenagers killed in horrific ways or thoughtful examinations about society and human nature. World War Z wants to be in the second category but tries to also placate those who like the first. As a result, neither is fully realized. Its attempt to say something productive about life and death is compromised by the repetitive need to show millions of CGI zombies attacking people. World War Z makes zombies boring.
Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is a modern day Cincinnatus who once fought third-world conflicts for the United Nations and now makes pancakes every day for his kids while his loving wife brings home the bacon. Then the zombie apocalypse breaks out in terrifying fashion. Gerry’s training comes in handy as his family fights its way through Philadelphia until they are rescued and brought to safety on aircraft carrier in the Atlantic (it is usually assumed that zombies cannot swim).
His family’s lodging comes at a price; Gerry must travel around the world looking for the origin of the outbreak in order to make a vaccine. As Gerry chases down answers from South Korea to Israel to Wales, he is continually pursued and attacked by zombies. The amount of actual time taken to move the plot forward is minuscule and many interesting facets of this story are overlooked in the service of pure, adrenaline-laced action. The film ends with a discovery that provides humanity with a sliver of hope but does not solve the seemingly endless problem.
For most of a person’s
life, he assumes that tomorrow will come; safety is the rule, not the
exception. Yet for those who have experienced a serious illness or
been in a significant car accident, an understanding comes of the
truth: death is a possibility at every moment and eternity is much
longer than our lifespan. Jesus explained this by saying, “there
will be two men in a field. One will be taken, the other left.”
World War Z does a good job of demonstrating this sobering
fact. The scientist Dr. Fassbach states that “mother nature is a
serial killer” and explains that the Spanish flu killed nearly 3%
of the world’s population in two years.
Yet all of these apocalyptic scenarios never ultimately come true.