Film Review: World War Z

Reviewed by Sam Robinson

Rated M. Starring Brad Pitt, Matthew Fox. Directed by Marc Forster.

[Stars: 3.5/5]

Zombies. Ever since Michael Jackson danced with them in his clip to Thriller, they’ve been a huge part of pop culture. Don’t try and pretend you or your friends haven’t dragged one leg along the ground and shouted ‘BRAINS!’ at some point in your teenage years. But what is it about these ‘living dead’ creatures that we’re so fascinated in?

Hollywood has released a number of zombie flicks in the last year, but the biggest blockbuster of them all is World War Z. I put off watching this one for a while because frankly, the title is ridiculous; I’d read of production issues (they had to go back and re-film the final act); and such a concept seems so B-grade that it should be up there with SharkNado. But World War Z is actually a pretty enjoyable film.

The world is hit by a pandemic that turns citizens into ruthless human-chomping zombies. The disease looks unstoppable, prompting former UN employee Jerry Lane (Pitt) to find a solution and save the human race from becoming permanently zombified.

The film’s $200 million budget is put to good use – particularly in regards to visuals. As Lane travels to cities the world over, Director Forster uses plenty of aerial shots to look down on this new world now taken over by zombies as they try and climb walls, clamber all over each other, and seek out the next human to disease.

It’s a wafer thin premise, but World War Z cleverly plays with your emotions – and not just feeling scared. Rather than just going through the motions of explosions, guns and carnage – there are pauses where Lane and others deal with loss, grief, and despair. I found this to be really nice point of difference to other action flicks. There are moments to breathe in between the zombie madness (which, starts just six minutes in). Brad Pitt is excellent in the lead role as well.

But let’s come back to that question – why are we such big fans of zombies? There’s been numerous times where I’ve been hanging with a group of church friends where discussion has turned to the zombie apocalypse, and what kind of structure we’d need to survive it (this film doesn’t give answers to that, by the way).

Now I’m aware that zombies aren’t actually rising from the dead in World War Z, but I wonder whether we spend so much time pondering an uprising that will never happen, that we forget to talk about the real resurrection from the dead.

The Bible has plenty to say about resurrection. In John 11 there’s this famous story of a guy named Lazarus. At the start of the chapter, Lazarus is very ill, and Mary and Martha send a message to Jesus (who is in a different place) to come quickly. But Jesus stays where he is for two days, and Lazarus dies.

If you’ve read the story, you’ll know that Jesus goes to him from the dead, but what’s fascinating is what Jesus says to Martha in John 11:25-27 (before Lazarus is raised):

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;  and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Jesus raises Lazarus to show that he has power and authority over life and death. And there is a promise for us in this too. By putting our trust in Jesus, he promises to raise us from the dead and our resurrection will be glorious. We won’t be mindless, chomping lumbering creeps, we will perfect. We have this certainty because Jesus himself has died and risen again.

Next time you’re hanging out with mates discussing whether concrete or metal will withstand zombies the best, why not turn your discussion to Jesus? What a great opportunity to share that he has the power and authority to raise us from the dead and to live with him eternally, only by trusting in him and what he has done on the cross.

If you’re after a film packed with escapism and suspense, rent out World War Z. I’m giving it three-and-a-half out of five stars.

World War Z is available on Blu-Ray and DVD on Quickflix.

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