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EW Movie Review: "World War Z"

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Actor Brad Pitt battles zombies as the end of the world approaches in his new film, "World War Z." Owen Gleiberman, film critic for Entertainment Weekly magazine, filed the following review.

"World War Z" may be the most entertaining and accomplished zombie thriller since "Dawn of the Dead." The film has touches of the tightly confined, high-tension claustrophobia we expect from zombie movies, yet it’s a very different sort of zombie feast -- vast and sprawling and spectacular. It’s the first truly globalized orgy of the undead. The director, Marc Forster, is a filmmaker whose work I’ve never particularly liked -- he made the overblown "Monster’s Ball" and the James Bond dud "Quantum of Solace" -- but here, he shows a new audacity and flair. "World War Z" is epically scaled, but it’s not a messy, noisy, CGI-bogus, throw-everything-at-the-audience sort of blockbuster. It’s thrillingly controlled, and it builds in impact.

At the beginning, Brad Pitt, as a former U.N. investigator, is driving his family toward the center of Philadelphia, when we see the first warning signs of breakdown: Giant traffic jams and, finally, a zombie -- or is it just an angry, desperate civilian -- crashing up against the windshield. As the zombies start to replicate, Pitt spends the film traveling around the world, searching for the origins of the virus, and a possible cure. Yet metaphorically speaking, we’re already cued to see what has brought on this onslaught.

"World War Z" is rooted in the current mood of economic panic and impending chaos. It presents the zombie army as a culmination of what it’s going to look like if and when the bottom falls out of our society. The movie finds its own unique atmosphere of disorder after Gerry arrives in Jerusalem, where the Israelis have erected a wall around the city to keep the zombies out. The wall doesn’t work. As the zombies -- and there are thousands -- shimmy up the side of it, the action hits a raw nerve of peril.

"World War Z" lifts some of its vérité-apocalypse mood, as well as the terrifying speed with which the zombies move, from Danny Boyle’s "28 Days Later". Yet this is a much more varied and surprising movie, built around a soberly commanding performance by Pitt, who is cool, fearless, tense, compassionate, and brutally tough. At a World Health Organization outpost, he must brave sterile white corridors dotted with zombies to get inside a lab vault, and the story’s blend of terror and ingenuity attains an intoxicating, jittery finesse.

"World War Z" turns the prospect of the end of our world into something tumultuous and horrifying and, at the same time, exciting. It’s scary good fun.

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