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FILM FANS: 'World War Z' has plenty chills, thrills

EDITOR'S NOTE: Film Fans features local residents reviewing the movie of the week: "World War Z." Want to be a film fan? Email features@gwinnettdailypost.com.

2 and 1/2 out of 4 stars

It's not the best zombie movie ever made, but Brad Pitt's "World War Z" does have the thrills, chills and spills that keep viewers on the edge of their seats for most of the film.

Pitt stars as Gerry Lane, an ex-U.N. investigator who is happily retired with his family in Philadelphia. Only a few sound bites from TV newscasts in the background hint that something might be amiss, referring to "rabies" outbreaks in various world locations. Lane and his family suddenly find themselves in the midst of hell breaking loose while on the streets of Philly, as zombie masses soon overwhelm the city, creating new zombies by biting normal folks. On the run from these undead marauders, Lane's family is rescued by his old U.N. boss and U.S. troops and taken to an offshore naval vessel, with the provision that Lane help spearhead the search for a solution to the zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments worldwide.

I wish I had HALF the energy and speed the zombies in this film have. Instead of stumbling around in slow motion, these "zekes" are nonstop world-class sprinters that would put a cheetah to shame. Maybe they have a secret stash of Red Bull or Rock Star drinks somewhere on them. Plus, they pile onto each other in a (sub)human wave that makes it nearly impossible to mow 'em down with most weapons. Oh, yes -- they are as ugly as sin, too, and clack their teeth when agitated (which is most of the time).

"World War Z" has plenty of action, and the gore is mostly offscreen, but it still earns its "PG-13" rating. Keeping up with the dialogue is a bit challenging, and it is reported that the ending 13 minutes had to be completely redone. Still, it's a pretty good ride for the money.

-- Tim Weekley, Suwanee

3 out of 4 stars

The book "World War Z" makes for a quick read. A U.N. investigator flies across the globe collecting stories from survivors of a zombie war that claimed the lives of billions of people. The survivors tell the stories of how the war came to be and how it was fought and finally won. I wondered how the movie would manage to approximate this style, which actually would better accommodate a television show or miniseries.

Turns out the movie didn't bother to be the book, and that's OK. The film completely eschews the book's format (and many of its plot points) and instead opts for a collection of action set pieces that take place all over the globe. It is a competent and sometimes-thrilling summer blockbuster that rarely lets up after the first five minutes of the movie.

Brad Pitt is solid as Gerry, a U.N. hot-zone specialist who is torn away from his family to save the world. His mission is to accompany a brilliant virologist as he searches for clues into the origin of the zombie outbreak. Things do not go smoothly.

It's always a morbid thrill in disaster movies to watch familiar places turn to rubble, and the scale of disaster in "World War Z" is global and epic. Throw in some zombies as the cause of the disaster and you get some unique and thrilling moments. If you watch the film expecting the book, you will likely be disappointed. If you are hoping for a cross between a Roland Emmerich film and "The Walking Dead," you'll have a great two hours.

-- Jeremy D. Beauchamp, Lawrenceville

3 out of 4 stars

It's another zombie movie, but we keep coming back for more and still loving them. This one is at least a little different. It is set in present day and the zombies move as fast as a cheetah -- and there are thousands of them. The movie was action packed and worth seeing, although I think they still could have made it even better. Brad Pitt was the main character and I think if it were not for such a strong actor in the lead, the movie would not have been as good as it was. I would say, if you like horror films or zombies, go see this now. Otherwise, wait for the rental.

-- Kelly Cain, Lawrenceville