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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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Augustine of Canterbury: In the year 596, some 40 monks set out from Rome to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons in England. Leading the group was Augustine, the prior of their monastery in Rome. Hardly had he and his men reached Gaul (France) when they heard stories of the ferocity of the Anglo-Saxons and of the treacherous waters of the English Channel. Augustine returned to Rome and to the pope who had sent them—St. Gregory the Great (September 3 )—only to be assured by him that their fears were groundless. 
<p>Augustine again set out. This time the group crossed the English Channel and landed in the territory of Kent, ruled by King Ethelbert, a pagan married to a Christian, Bertha. Ethelbert received them kindly, set up a residence for them in Canterbury and within the year, on Pentecost Sunday, 597, was himself baptized. After being consecrated a bishop in France, Augustine returned to Canterbury, where he founded his see. He constructed a church and monastery near where the present cathedral, begun in 1070, now stands. As the faith spread, additional sees were established at London and Rochester. </p><p>Work was sometimes slow and Augustine did not always meet with success. Attempts to reconcile the Anglo-Saxon Christians with the original Briton Christians (who had been driven into western England by Anglo-Saxon invaders) ended in dismal failure. Augustine failed to convince the Britons to give up certain Celtic customs at variance with Rome and to forget their bitterness, helping him evangelize their Anglo-Saxon conquerors </p><p>Laboring patiently, Augustine wisely heeded the missionary principles—quite enlightened for the times—suggested by Pope Gregory the Great: purify rather than destroy pagan temples and customs; let pagan rites and festivals be transformed into Christian feasts; retain local customs as far as possible. The limited success Augustine achieved in England before his death in 605, a short eight years after he arrived in England, would eventually bear fruit long after in the conversion of England. Augustine of Canterbury can truly be called the “Apostle of England.”</p> American Catholic Blog A hero isn’t someone born with unconquerable strength and selflessness. Heroes are not formed in a cataclysmic instant. Heroism is developed over time, one decision after another, moment by moment, formed by a deliberate, chosen, and habitual response to life.

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