Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) wants to show you a magic trick with his scarf in World War Z.

Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) wants to show you a magic trick with his scarf in World War Z.

Reel Reviews: Get ready for zombie light

Brad Pitt's World War Z turns out to be pretty tame for a zombie film

  • Jun. 30, 2013 1:00 p.m.

Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is enjoying his early retirement, spending time with his wife and two young daughters.

On a typical morning, driving his kids to school, stuck in a Philadelphia traffic jam, all hell breaks loose and his family finds itself enveloped into a crowd of people, fleeing for their lives from some unknown threat.

Luckily for Lane’s family, his former job with the United Nations was in crisis management and if anyone is capable of surviving this catastrophe, it’s him.

It doesn’t take long before the threat becomes clear, a fast-acting illness of some sort is turning healthy folks into crazed, hungry zombies.

Unfortunately for Lane’s family, the UN wants him back on the case to help solve the mystery of what is happening and what they might be able to do to stop it before the human race is wiped out.

We say, “For what was supposed to be the epic zombie film, Z is pretty tame.”

HOWE: World War Zzzzzzzzzzz more like. At a little under two hours, it’s a long, slow and torturous movie that does nothing. It’s meant to be a zombie movie, but it doesn’t feel like one.

With a true zombie flick, the dead eat the living but in this, they only bite the living and move on to the next victim.

There’s lots of action but no gore. Pretty disappointing I would say.

TAYLOR: It’s not too long, or torturous. Yet, overall, I’m disappointed with WWZ because the things I’ve come to expect from zombie films aren’t present, namely: scares and gore.

World War Z is rated PG-13 and while it’s possible to show violence or blood at such a rating, the filmmakers chose not to show us anything.

Zombies are, for the most part, dispatched off screen, perhaps with a crunching sound to let you know the crowbar found its mark.

It’s certainly possible for a PG-13 movie to be scary (The Ring, Poltergeist, Jaws,) yet WWZ takes very little time to increase tension.

The moments where a scare could have presented itself are not exploited, the characters of Lane and his family are not built up into something the audience can care about. Ultimately, it’s zombie light.

However, it’s not really a bad film, aside from the occasional moment of pure ridiculousness.

HOWE: Do you mean the magic tricks? The looting of the supermarket, seeing them leave with a trolley full of food, then presto they’re running down the street with no trolley.

Or is it the disappearing/reappearing scarf around Lane’s neck.

Editors Roger Barton and Matt Chesse should get a job in Vegas, they’d  run Penn and Teller out of town.

TAYLOR: No, but I do agree that the film is a little chopped up.

However, I was referring to things like a four-prop aircraft taking off from an aircraft carrier only twice its size.

You know, logistical problems.

There was one serious plot point in the movie that made several people laugh.

But the things I enjoyed the most were the novel ways different folks had to fight off the zombies.

It doesn’t bore, but it also doesn’t wow. It’s a movie about plague, zombies are secondary.

Taylor gives it 3 large doses of a deadly virus strain out of 5.

Howe gives it 2.5 ear coverings out of 5.

Brian Taylor and Peter Howe write film reviews for The Morning Star, appearing every Friday and Sunday,