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World War Z

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 of Monte Corvino: At a time when the Church was heavily embroiled in nationalistic rivalries within Europe, it was also reaching across Asia to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Mongols. John of Monte Corvino went to China about the same time Marco Polo was returning. 
<p>John was a soldier, judge and doctor before he became a friar. Prior to going to Tabriz, Persia (present-day Iran), in 1278, he was well known for his preaching and teaching. In 1291 he left Tabriz as a legate of Pope Nicholas IV to the court of Kublai Khan. An Italian merchant, a Dominican friar and John traveled to western India where the Dominican died. When John and the Italian merchant arrived in China in 1294, Kublai Khan had recently died. </p><p>Nestorian Christians, successors to the dissidents of the fifth-century Council of Ephesus’ teaching on Jesus Christ, had been in China since the seventh century. John converted some of them and also some of the Chinese, including Prince George from Tenduk, northwest of Beijing. Prince George named his son after this holy friar. </p><p>John established his headquarters in Khanbalik (now Beijing), where he built two churches; his was the first resident Catholic mission in the country. By 1304 he had translated the Psalms and the New Testament into the Tatar language. </p><p>Responding to two letters from John, Pope Clement V named John Archbishop of Khanbalik in 1307 and consecrated seven friars as bishops of neighboring dioceses. One of the seven never left Europe. Three others died along the way to China; the remaining three bishops and the friars who accompanied them arrived there in 1308. </p><p>When John died in 1328, he was mourned by Christians and non-Christians. His tomb quickly became a place of pilgrimage. In 1368, Christianity was banished from China when the Mongols were expelled and the Ming dynasty began. John’s cause has been introduced in Rome.</p> American Catholic Blog We look ahead to the coming of the Son of Man, standing erect and with heads held high. We live in hope, not in fear. Our experience of God is no longer limited by human weakness or even human sinfulness. God has always been one step ahead of us, with a plan that exceeds our greatest desires.

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