Brad Pitt takes on the undead in World War Z, the new thriller loosely based on the popular novel. Can a PG-13 zombie movie succeed in a genre typically saturated in R-rated gore? You'd be surprised how many have done so in already. I give you my review of World War Z, plus five other gore-lite zombie films that are worth your while.
WORLD WAR Z review (Grade: A-)
The best surprise of the summer so far, World War Z is a relentless apocalyptic thriller that finds Brad Pitt as a U.N. investigator putting his skills to use in an attempt to save the planet, and his family, from a virus that turns people into ferocious cannibalistic zombies. While the marketing emphasized grand-scale special effects, most of the “money shots” are in the trailers. What one didn't get a sense in the previews is just how strong the family arc is, how effectively scary the zombies are, or the terrific pacing with which the story unfolds. Brad Pitt does some great work here, as do the actors playing his wife and children. In fact, there's not a weak actor in the film. There are a few logical gaps in the storytelling, but not the kind that can undo the terrifying fun to be had here. This is unpredictable horror balanced with heroism and humanity, and its a thrilling mix.
CONTENT OVERVIEW: World War Z is rated PG-13. There is no sexuality or nudity. Profanity is
surprisingly light (only 5-6 in the film, with no f-words). This being a zombie film, there are plenty of scenes of zombies attacking and biting people, who then turn into zombies in spectacularly creepy fashion. Zombies are shot, stabbed, and bombed. A person has a limb chopped off and a crowbar gets stuck in a zombie's head, but both incidents occur just off-screen. Indeed, most of the gore is left to the imagination.
Now, if you enjoyed World War Z and still have a zombie fix, here's 5 good-to-great zombie movies that are PG-13 and below. These cover both literal, “back-from-the-dead” zombies and zombie-like creatures (insanity viruses, etc).
I Am Legend (2007)
Will Smith stars as a lone wanderer in post-apocalyptic New York City. He has the place to himself during the day, but at night the zombies come out. It's a race against the clock to find a cure, or humanity will truly be extinct.
The Last Man(s) on Earth (2012)
My favorite comedy of last year finds a pair of idiot survival experts teaming up with a bombshell brunette and a studly schoolteacher (Darin Southam of Ephraim's Rescue) to prevent the end of the world. The Testaments' Rick Macy provides scene after scene of comedic gold as a prophet of doom. Read my full review.
From Avengers‘ writer-director Joss Whedon, this sci-fi action-comedy-martial arts-horror-Western-romance has a little something for everyone. The vicious Reavers, while not technically zombies, definitely display some traits familiar to fans of the undead, and some moments seem lifted from a George Romero film. Read my full review.
Warm Bodies (2013)
As a completest, I had to include my two favorite zombie films, which are both rated R. If you share my sensibilities, you can track down an edited-for-TV version. Shaun of the Dead has a British slacker trying to win back his girlfriend by rescuing her when London is overrun by the undead, except he's totally inept. Zombieland has Jessie Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, and Abigail Breslin trying to reach the (supposedly) last safe place on Earth. Both films are utterly hilarious takes on the genre.
And just because this is as good a place as any to dump all my favorite zombie stuff, here's Michael Jackson's immortal Thriller…
…and finally, what I would look like as a zombie (sorry, it's pretty grotesque).