Australian Council on Children and the Media

World War Z

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Not suitable under 13, not recommended 13-15 (Violence; Disturbing scenes and themes; Coarse language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for World War Z
  • a review of World War Z completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 1 July 2013.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to violence, disturbing scenes and themes and coarse language
Children 13-15 Not recommended due to violence, disturbing scenes and themes and coarse language
Children 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: World War Z
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Horror themes, violence and infrequent coarse language
Length 116 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Retired UN official Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his wife Karin (Mireille Enos) are taking their kids, Constance (Sterling Jerins) and Rachel (Abigail Hargrove) to school when they get stuck in a traffic jam heading into the city. Suddenly pandemonium strikes when explosions erupt, cars and trucks collide and people are running in all directions. The ‘Zombie pandemic’ has arrived with zombies running everywhere attacking people and crashing into windscreens.

Gerry manages to get his family to a temporary safe house where he receives a call from the UN who are desperate to get him back on board to help fight the Zombie pandemic. They send a helicopter to rescue him and his family who are taken aboard a troop ship. From there Gerry is sent all over the world trying to find a cure for the epidemic while avoiding succumbing to the ‘zombie’ virus.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Horror themes

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is a lot of violence but little blood and gore in this movie, including:

  • Cars, trucks and motorbikes crash into each other.
  • Zombies crash into car windscreens.
  • Karin is attacked by a group of men in a supermarket.
  • People and police shoot at each other.
  • People fall from buildings.
  • Hordes of zombies run through the streets attacking anyone in sight.
  • Hordes of zombies try to climb over the town walls and are shot down.
  • There are gun battles and grenades thrown at zombies.
  • A female soldier is bitten on the hand by a zombie so Gerry chops her hand off to save her life.
  • Zombies attack people on a plane which ends up with the plane crashing and only two survivors.
  • Gerry has an object embedded in his abdomen.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that will scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The zombies are frightening to look at – they have dried up, cracked skin, bulging eyes and protruding teeth with which they gnash at people.
  • When someone is bitten by a zombie they have convulsions and turn immediately into a zombie.
  • Dead bodies are shown on a security fence.
  • A room full of dead skeletons is seen covered in ash and one of the hands is moving.
  • Bodies are shown burning in a fire.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this group will also be disturbed by the above mentioned scenes

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned violent and scary scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned violent and scary scenes.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Pepsi
  • Mountain Dew

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some mild sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Gerry and Karin are in bed together, kissing and cuddling.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Alcohol is used as an anaesthetic and disinfectant

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • bitch
  • Shit
  • bullshit
  • Oh my God
  • bastard
  • arse

In a nutshell

World War Z, based on a novel, has a flawed plot with no explanation as to how the zombie outbreak started and has very little credibility overall. Its fast paced action is, however, likely to appeal to adolescents. Parents are warned that the M rating is well deserved. Although the film has less blood and gore than usual zombie movies, there is plenty to scare children under 13, for whom it is definitely not suitable.  It may also disturb younger teenagers and is therefore not recommended for under 15s. The violent and disturbing scenes are more intense when seen in 3D.

The main message from this movie is to persevere against all odds in the face of adversity.

Parents may wish to discuss Gerry’s sacrifice in leaving his family behind for the sake of saving humankind.

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