The Valdosta Daily Times
“World War Z” (Action/Thriller: 1 hour, 56 minutes)
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos and Fana Mokoena
Director: Marc Forster
Rated: PG-13 (Intense frightening sequences, violence, profanity and disturbing and gory images)
Movie Review: Marc Forster has directed some great films: “Monster’s Ball” (2001) and “The Kite Runner” (2007). He also directed 2008’s “Quantum of Solace,” a James Bond film. He is versatile as a director, easily moving from one genre to the next while keeping his films tangible. Add “World War Z” to Forster’s list of accomplishments of mastering another genre.
An adaptation of Max Brooks’ novel, this film follows the travels of United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Pitt) as he travels the world looking for a cure to a deadly disease that turns people into aggressive zombies. No matter where Lane arrives, the zombies are present and causing chaos. Cities around the globe are quickly becoming filled with zombies.
This screenplay gives a new twist to the zombie craze. It is nothing powerful, but it manages to keep its audience riveted. The uninfected diagnose the zombies as people with diseases. In a unique manner, the plot is similar to “Contagion” (2011) mixed with countless other zombie films.
However, this film does something unique. It makes the mission of one man, Pitts’ Lane, a tribute to protecting his family by putting his own life in danger to learn how the zombie disease occurred. On the surface, it appears Lane is doing this for some noble cause, but this notion is not the case. Lane’s true goal is to ensure the survival of his family. The writers who wrote this did not make this pretentious by hiding it. This gives the film focus, making it not the typical zombie apocalypse production with cheap thrills.
Sure, the film has plenty of intense zombie moments; it is a thriller. Yet, this one has a nice focus that works. It is a suspenseful, intriguing piece that entertains.
Brad Pitt gives a genuine performance. He more than ably gives the film a sense of authenticity. He makes the film intriguing, even when the script trips over itself making some visual and story blunders.
This works because it considers the human element. In this case, the element of survival is paramount. People desperately want to keep from being bitten by a zombie to keep from becoming one. This screenplay keeps the focus on one man’s attempt to survive and help others do the same. It amply succeeds.
Grade: B- (Engaging material for the undead)
“Monsters University” (Animation/Adventure: 1 hour, 43 minutes)
Starring: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi and Helen Mirren
Director: Dan Scanlon
Movie Review: A sequel to “Monsters, Inc.” (2001), “Monsters University” rivals its prequel. This is a rarity in moviedom. Rarely do sequels equal or surpass their prequels.
Audiences have a chance to see Michael ‘Mike’ Wazowski (Crystal) and James P. ‘Sulley’ Sullivan (Goodman) for a semester as freshmen in college. They have to prove they can scare children with the best scare majors or face being expelled from the university by scare legend Abigail Hardscrabble (Mirren), Dean of the School of Scaring at Monsters University.
These characters may be monsters, but they are likable. They provide a legitimate humanity that makes them inviting. Additionally, there are the talents of Crystal and Goodman who respectively voice the green, one-eyed Sullivan and the big and furry Wazowski. The two work well together as a team. Even more, they are witty as a comedic pair.
Multitudes of other, new characters make debuts. The best is Helen Mirren. She creepily voices the intimidating Dean Hardscrabble with keenness.
“Monsters, Inc.” was very comical. Although plenty of laughs are still there, “Monsters University” is more dramatic than funny for many scenes. That dramaticism is not a negative. It is a positive aspect that distinguishes “Monsters University” as its own sequel-prequel story. It provides enough entertainment to charm all audiences with comedy and those impressive dramatic moments.
Grade: B (Enroll now.)