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Movie review: 'World War Z' delivers thrills sporadically

Published June 21, 2013 5:18 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Like the zombies it depicts, the thriller "World War Z" sometimes moves really fast, then jerks around and lies dormant for long stretches.

Freely adapted from Max Brooks' novel, the film imagines a global pandemic whose victims become ravenous flesh-eaters that swarm like insects to overcome walls and other obstacles. This crisis is viewed mainly through the eyes of Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), a former UN investigator pressed back into service to track down the epidemic's Patient Zero.

The pursuit takes him from a U.S. military base in South Korea to the walled city of Jerusalem to a World Health Organization lab in Cardiff, Wales. Along the way, he encounters some intriguing characters, including a tough-as-nails Army captain (James Badge Dale), a mysterious CIA agent (David Morse) and a plucky Israeli soldier (Daniella Kertesz).

Director Marc Forster ("Quantum of Solace") brings a kinetic energy to some of the zombie set pieces, but the episodic structure of the tag-teamed script makes for a stop-and-start pace. The best part of the movie is the ending, a rewrite by Damon Lindelof and Drew Goddard (collaborators on "Lost") that is emotionally satisfying while being surprisingly quiet in comparison to the shoot-the-works finales of most summer blockbusters.

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'World War Z'

Opens Friday, June 21, at theaters everywhere; rated PG-13 for intense frightening zombie sequences, violence and disturbing images; 116 minutes.