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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

World War Z

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service


Brad Pitt, Abigail Hargrove, center, and Mireille Enos star in a scene from the movie "World War Z."
When the zombies come a-runnin', as they do throughout "World War Z" (Paramount), the only defense will be guns, knives, duct tape and maybe a vaccine.

That's all there is to this dreary apocalypse tale, which stars Brad Pitt as United Nations troubleshooter Gerry Lane. As in, there's trouble, and he shoots.

Lane, who's retired from that job, is called back into action by U.N. Undersecretary Thierry Umutoni (Fana Mokoena) because the president of the United States is dead, the vice president is missing, and no one in particular seems to be in charge, so the planet needs an exterminator -- right quick.

This loose adaptation of Max Brooks' novel by director Marc Foster and screenwriters Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard and Damon Lindelof respectfully observes all the cliches of the zombie-pandemic genres without much gore, possibly because there are thousands upon thousands of zombies to shoot at, blow up, or hit with flamethrowers.

Lane's calm morning, as he takes daughters Connie (Sterling Jerins) and Rachel (Abigail Hargrove) to school with wife Karin (Mireille Enos) in Philadelphia, is interrupted with zombies running amok, holding up traffic and wrecking his minivan. He manages to steal another vehicle, and they get as far as Newark to loot a drugstore for Rachel's asthma medicine. Umutoni is on the phone, demanding that he get to where a helicopter can pick them all up, and soon they're at sea on an aircraft carrier.

Lane is ordered to find the source of whatever it is that's creating zombies, which takes him to a military base in South Korea, then to Jerusalem, where a huge wall surrounds the city to keep the undead at bay.

There may be a sublimated political message here about the Palestinians, undocumented immigrants or maybe even the walls of Jericho, but the scenes there move too quickly for obvious subtext. They're just an excuse to show how zombies can pile up and scale that wall.

Finally, Lane heads to a World Health Organization research lab in Wales. Along the way, he picks up Israeli security guard Segen (Daniella Kertesz), who, like himself, is durable enough to survive the crash of the jumbo passenger jet taking them there.

What pluck! What moxie! And what a time-waster!

The film contains gun and physical violence, zombies biting people, and fleeting crass language. Possibly acceptable for older teens. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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John Paul II: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978. <br /><br />Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. <br /><br />Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin. <br /><br />Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong! <br /><br />He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its <em>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World</em>. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. <br /><br />Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. <br /><br />He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. <br /><br />The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. <br /><br />“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, <em>Redeemer of the Human Race</em>. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.” <br /><br />His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that. <br /><br />One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. <br /><br />In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. <br /><br />In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities. <br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. American Catholic Blog Lord, may I have balance and measure in everything—except in Love. —St. Josemaría Escrivá

 
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