World War Z

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
World War Z Movie Poster Image
Brad Pitt zombie thriller is dull, despite intense moments.
  • PG-13
  • 2013
  • 116 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 26 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 120 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages
The movie supports using your intellect to solve a conflict, rather than just fighting. It's about solving a very complicated problem against terrible odds and not giving up. The goal involves finding a tool for the fight, rather than a solution or a cure.
Positive Role Models & Representations
The main character would rather stay behind and protect his family, but instead he agrees to a deadly mission to try to find a cure for the zombie outbreak. Even when the odds are against him, he never gives up, and he resorts to violence only when necessary. Otherwise, he uses his wit, cunning, and intellect to save the day.
Less blood and gore than a typical zombie movie -- much of the violence takes place off screen -- but there are many fast-paced zombie attacks and lots of shootings (including children) and explosions. The attacks are intense. There's also a brutal plane crash that leaves a key character impaled through the stomach with a chunk of metal. A character chops a woman's arm off to prevent her from being infected (no blood shown). Some characters commit suicide rather than become zombies. Another character accidentally slips and shoots himself. Rotting corpses covered in white ashes are shown. Many characters die.
Images of a married couple being comfortable with each other, sleeping in the same bed, kissing, etc.
Language isn't constant, but "s--t" is used a few times, as well as "bastard," "bitch," "ass," "damn," "hell," "oh my God," and "goddamn."
A Mountain Dew can is prominently shown -- the main character accidentally kicks it while trying to be quiet. Later, he stops to drink a Pepsi from a soda machine and then lets loose dozens of Pepsi cans from the machine for a distraction. Budweiser bottles are also shown.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The main character accepts a beer in one scene but isn't seen drinking it. On an airplane, he gives vodka to a woman to numb her pain while he changes a dressing. He also uses it to clean his hands and clean the wound.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that World War Z is an action/thriller movie about a worldwide zombie outbreak that's based on the bestselling novel by Max Brooks and stars Brad Pitt. It tones down the blood and gore that are trademarks of most zombie movies, instead focusing on chase sequences and lots of shootings (including children), explosions, and dead bodies. It's intense, but it's not overly graphic -- though a plane crash sequence does result in a key character being injured, with a piece of metal sticking out of his stomach, and other scenes include a woman's arm being cut off (no blood) and people choosing suicide over infection. Language is sparse but features a few uses of "s--t" and other words. Some vodka is used as a painkiller (and a cleaner) while the main character cleans and dresses a wound, and Pepsi and Mountain Dew are definitely used for product placement.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 12-year-old Written by1elysium1 July 2, 2013

Very impressed...

FIRST OFF... let me thank and congratulate whoever decided to have the visceral gore be done off-screen... it was right on... allowing for a much wider audience... Continue reading
Adult Written bydm91214 June 20, 2013

The Smartest Zombie Movie

The film stays away from the gore and gives the audience plenty of suspenseful moment and scares. It could have been 'R' rated but it is justly rated... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old February 20, 2014

Excellent zombie movie. Probably my favorite one ever.

This movie has lots of profanity. The language includes goddamn, ass, hell, s--t, bitch and bastard. The violence is pretty extreme including blood and not much... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bythemovieman123 April 8, 2021

Why do i keep watching this?

Brad Pitt is a great actor and he can make anything a great movie. But the thing is that no matter how great he is at acting some things are just really dark an... Continue reading

What's the story?

Retired UN agent Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is happy staying at home with his wife (Mireille Enos) and two daughters. But one morning, while driving the kids to school, strange things start happening. It becomes apparent that certain people have gone crazy and have started attacking and biting other innocents, zombie-style. It's not long before Gerry's old boss calls him in, and he's jetting around the world, trying to find the source of the deadly outbreak, or at least a cure. But the zombies are ruthless and resourceful, and Gerry is running out of time and places to hide.

Is it any good?

The bestselling novel World War Z by Max Brooks (Mel Brooks' son) started a bidding war right out of the gate, and unfortunately it's been turned into a sloppy, dull summer action flick. Director Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace, Machine Gun Preacher) has never shown much personality or skill when it comes to big movies; his action sequences are shaky and choppy, and his suspense sequences are clunky rather than tense. The entire movie has a grim, serious demeanor that sucks all the potential fun out of it. It's probably the least scary zombie movie ever made.
WORLD WAR Z is also one of those movies that makes you want to scream at the characters for not being very smart; if they'd seen even one zombie movie, they'd know not to make the same old mistakes. There isn't a scene in it that couldn't have been done better. Not even the actors pass muster: Pitt is on autopilot, and character actors like David Morse are gone before they've had a chance to warm up. The title of this dud should have included more "Z"s.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about World War Z's violence. What is shown, and what isn't shown? How is this movie different from other zombie movies? Is it more or less intense?

  • What's the appeal of zombie movies in general? What do zombies say about who we are as a culture?

  • Is World War Z scary? What is it really about if it's not a true horror movie?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love scares

Themes & Topics

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