News Column

A Zombie Film With Bite

June 27, 2013

YellowBrix

June 27--"WORLD WAR Z" (PG 13)

3 out of 4 stars

BRAD PITT, MIREILLE ENOS, DANIELLA KERTESZ, FANA MOKOENA

While some of this summer's blockbusters have been propped up with built-in sequel interest and well-known characters, this almost-end-of-the-world thriller is a fresh face with no strings attached. And it's the best action movie of the summer so far.

Brad Pitt earns every bit of his star status here leading a film about the world being overrun by a zombie-creating virus. Even better than Pitt's performance is the pacing, which is perfectly calibrated to keep your heart pounding.

For those like this reviewer who don't like to watch zombies actually eating people, it doesn't happen much here. Instead, these zombies are more apt to bite than feast on flesh, perhaps because this particular brand of zombie virus is able to turn a victim undead just 10 seconds after a bite.

There are other changes to the standard zombie script that make the action and danger more intense. These zombies don't shuffle about, they run and jump and climb over each other to get over walls.

Director Marc Foster ("Quantum of Solace" and "The Kite Runner") has a solid hand on this film, and, thankfully, doesn't overdo things. He includes epic battles and sweeping scenes like a particularly amazing segment in Israel but doesn't feel the need to make this film into one long fight sequence.

The tension is there from the first zombie bite to an ending that sets up a sequel. It is, after all, a summer blockbuster. Unlike several other over-hyped action films this summer, this one really delivers.

Rated PG 13 for intense frightening zombie sequences, violence and disturbing images. 115 min. [MC, PV, RA]

"MONSTERS UNIVERSITY" (G)

2.5 out of 4 stars

BILLY CRYSTAL, JOHN GOODMAN, STEVE BUSCEMI, HELEN MIRREN, NATHAN FILLION

While this animated tale has its moments and a cast that knows how to be funny it's not quite as good as its predecessor, "Monsters, Inc."

To be sure, there are some laughs found by revisiting Mike and Sully's college years, but parents may find that all the trappings of college confine the humor a bit.

Kids, on the other hand, will get a kick out of the silly competitions that put Mike and his band of misfit monsters through all sorts of challenges.

Thankfully, it's still got Billy Crystal, John Goodman and a great cast giving voice to the silly monsters filling up the big screen.

Rated G. 102 min. [MC, RA, RF]

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(c)2013 The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Va.)

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