Movie Review: 'World War Z'

In World War Z, Bradd Pitt saves the world from a zombie apocalypse. When Pitt's character gets stuck in a Philadelphia traffic jam with his family, that's when the apocalypse begins.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Another weekend, another zombie apocalypse. Zombies have invaded books, TV shows, video games and movies. And the zombie flick staggering into theaters this weekend is "World War Z", starring Brad Pitt. Kenneth Turan has this review.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: "World War Z" opens with happy family scenes where Brad Pitt's character Gerry Lane is established as a stay-at-home dad who doesn't seem to do anything more strenuous than make pancakes for breakfast.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WORLD WAR Z")

BRAD PITT: (as Gerry Lane) What is it?

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: (as daughter) Statue of Liberty or a snowman.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (as radio announcer) ...blackout and declared marshal law.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: (as daughter) Daddy what's marshal law?

TURAN: Then, with out-of-nowhere suddenness, the world as we know it comes to an end. Infected, twitchy zombies frantically search out the living, even using their foreheads to beat against car windows, desperate to bite their victims to death. In his pre-pancake days, Gerry was the U.N.'s top field investigator, a specialist in crisis situations, and he's asked to help track down the cause.

Gerry is loath to come out of retirement - the guy really likes his pancakes - but a top military man shames him into it.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WORLD WAR Z")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (as character) We'll send you in with a team. Help Dr. Fassbach find whatever it is he needs.

PITT: (as Gerry Lane) Can't help you. Can't leave my family.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (as character) Take a look around here, Mr. Lane. You want to help your family, let's figure out how we stop this.

TURAN: Gerry's investigations take him to Jerusalem, where World War Z's visual centerpiece erupts on screen. One by one, hundreds of zombies form an angry horde that swarms into an immense pyramid, allowing the undead to surmount a massive protecting wall. That manic movement is the most unexpected part of "World War Z".

Much of this film is zombie business as usual, with Pitt in full save the world mode, but it's fun to see this familiar material done with intelligence and skill. Why are zombies so omnipresent today? In a world where we all feel more threatened than we ever have by a myriad of forces beyond our control, from global warming to spying governments, it's comforting perhaps to see the personification of these fears in creatures that also cannot be stopped. Unless Brad Pitt does the stopping.

MONTAGNE: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times.

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