A zombie pandemic is sweeping the globe and the outlook seems bleak. When ex-United Nations worker, Gerry Lane, barely manages to escape with his family, he finds himself forced to undergo a globe-trotting mission in order to try and discover where the legion of undead originated from. In a desperate race against time, Lane witnesses the death of society wherever he goes; but also begins to notice things that may provide some hope for humanity.
World War Z (2013) – Director: Marc Forster
UK Rating: 15
US Rating: PG-13
Running Length: 116 minutes
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Fana Mokoena
An adaptation of a bestselling and critically acclaimed novel of the same name (written by Max Brooks), production problems have plagued ‘World War Z’ to the extent that the entire third act of the film was re-shot at huge expense: ballooning the movie’s budget to around $200 million. It is therefore impressive that, despite internal turmoil, the finished product is a very credible take on the rather overdone zombie genre.
What the film does very well is inject a vast amount of scale. Whereas most zombie films are usually an exercise in enclosed character paranoia or the re-structuring of society in crisis, ‘World War Z’ is more concerned with hopping from country to country (Jason Bourne style) and focusing on the utter devastation of a deadly and uncontrollable pandemic sweeping the globe. Wide shots show us mountains of undead ravaging all they find and each escape only heralds a new struggle once our characters inevitably have to land. There is an expert sense of desperation and hopelessness in ‘World War Z’.
Pitt is engaging, if a little bland, as a lead. His motivation can be boiled down to a man trying to keep his family safe but as he spends most of the film separated from them, this changes to him being a man desperately trying to stay alive for his family. His character spends his time landing in one country and obtaining some crumbs of information before having to flee once again. Thankfully, before this gets too repetitive there is a horrifying airborne sequence which then crashes us neatly into the spliced-in ‘new’ third act, set in a World Health Organisation building in Cardiff, Wales. Although there is an audible ‘clang’ as the tone switches from large scale destruction to sneaking suspense down corridors, the sudden rise in the tension level is welcome and adds a nice bit of spice to proceedings with many moments leaving you on the edge of your seat.
Overall, ‘World War Z’ manages to stitch together a film that may originally have had loftier ambitions (the novel dealt with themes of governmental incompetence and American isolationism) into something that works as a perfectly serviceable and entertainingly large-scale horror film with tons of scares and action that keeps you lurching home with a smile on your face
IS ‘WORLD WAR Z’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
DISCLAIMER: Ordinarily we don’t review films rated 15 in the UK, because the aim of Is This Movie Suitable is to assist parents in deciding whether films they are *allowed* to take their children to see will be appropriate for them. A 15 rating, by its nature, excludes those too young, and those old enough do not need parental supervision. However, as the US release of ‘World War Z’ is rated ‘PG-13′ we felt our services may be of assistance to our US readers. Our research has shown that there is no difference in the cut of the film regardless of location of release: the UK version and US version are the same.
For our UK readers, please note that we do not endorse or encourage in any way parents taking children to see a movie that the certificate legally prevents them from seeing and you should not take any child under the age of 15 to see this movie.
During the opening credits, there are several news clips which show the increase in the global devastation of the zombie infestation and there are a couple of shots of beached dolphins and the news report mentions that they are dead. There are also several images of animal carcasses being ripped and eaten by other animals. These images are no worse than what might be seen on a nature documentary.
Towards the beginning of the movie, the Lane family are stuck in a traffic jam and, after getting out of his car to see what is happening, Gerry is ordered to get back inside by a cop on a motorcycle. The cop is then suddenly hit hard by a truck which obviously kills him. Things soon go from bad to worse when zombies start attacking people. They move extremely fast and jump on people to knock them down. One man is seen to get into a car, only to be dragged out and bitten. Gerry watches as the man struggles and spasms on the floor for several seconds before turning into a zombie himself.
The family go to a large store in order to stock up on supplies. This store is being looted and, when Gerry and his wife, Karin, split up to get separate things, a sinister looking man watches Karin as she walks by him. A little while later, Gerry finds her on the floor being attacked by two men. While nothing explicit is seen or mentioned, it is clear that these men intend to rape her before Gerry comes along and stops them.
One character who is helping Gerry gets bitten on the hand by a zombie. Thinking quickly, Gerry chops their hand off making them cry out and groan in pain. They manage to board a plane which is about to leave and, during take-off, Gerry sterilizes the wound using miniature bottles of alcohol. Nothing gory is seen on camera but this character is clearly distressed and in intense pain throughout. During the flight, a zombie appears and starts attacking people, this leads to a hole being blown in the plane and virtually all the passengers (who are now mostly zombies) are sucked out. The plane crashes and several seconds after waking up, one character discovers a large piece of shrapnel sticking out of their torso. This is seen to go all the way through their back with a sharp, bloody spike.
There are a lot of suspenseful moments in ‘World War Z’ which could be very scary for children. These are generally scenes of people walking around empty buildings slowly and quietly while zombie noises can be heard. There are also several fast moving shadows in the background. When the zombies attack, they chase the characters relentlessly, often chomping and gnawing with their teeth.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
‘World War Z’ is an awkward movie for us to review because there is little questionable content in terms of graphic violence, gore or sexual content. However, the zombies themselves are likely to be too frightening for children under 13. They are aggressive, animal-like, make horrible, loud screeching noises and generally attack in hordes: making it virtually impossible for anyone to get away from them. While the gore of a standard zombie movie is not on display here, the violence and horror aspects are barely watered down. Both the frenzied attacks of the zombies and the intense suspense-filled scenes are likely to be too much for most children. We would therefore particularly recommend caution for any child under the age of 13 and would also advise that parental supervision may be required for those aged between 13 and 14. The first 15-20 minutes of the movie, where the family witnesses the zombie attack in Philadelphia, will be a good indicator of whether a child will be able to cope with the rest of the movie as the tone is set very high from an early stage.
- Violence: 5/5 (while the violence isn’t overly graphic, it is the strongest of what could be expected of a movie with a PG-13 rating)
- Emotional Distress: 2/5 (Lane is very worried for his family and is desperate to protect them in the first act of the movie)
- Fear Factor: 5/5 (there are several ‘jump’ moments where a suspenseful moment is broken by a zombie suddenly appearing in front of the protagonists)
- Sexual Content: 1/5
- Bad Language: 3/5 (moderate cursing throughout)
- Dialogue: 3/5
- Other notes: Deals with themes of family, making difficult choices, fighting a seemingly unstoppable force, not giving up and bravery against the odds.
Words by Mike Record