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Movie Review

Z for Zachariah

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for a scene of sexuality, partial nudity, and brief strong language.

Reviewed by: Samuel Chetty

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Postapocalyptic Sci-Fi Action Drama Adaptation
1 hr. 35 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
August 28, 2015 (limited—29 theaters)
DVD: October 20, 2015
Copyright, Roadside Attractions, a division of Lionsgate Films click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Roadside Attractions, a division of Lionsgate Films Copyright, Roadside Attractions, a division of Lionsgate Films Copyright, Roadside Attractions, a division of Lionsgate Films
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Roadside Attractions, a division of Lionsgate Films

difficulties of being completely alone

results of nuclear war

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry—What does the Bible say? Answer

difficulty trusting people

Is Ann an unwilling Eve who refuses to begin the humanity over again?

Couple in love. Photo copyrighted
TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

fornication in the Bible

LUST—What does the Bible say about it? Answer

lust (WebBible Encyclopedia)

PURITY—Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

Sex, Love and Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.

About hope

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Featuring: Margot Robbie … Ann Burden
Chris PineCaleb
Chiwetel EjioforLoomis
Director: Craig Zobel
Producer: Lucky Hat Entertainment
Material Pictures
more »
Distributor: Grindstone Entertainment Group
Roadside Attractions, a division of Lionsgate Films

“Will the last man on Earth bring her hope… or death?”

“Z for Zachariah” takes place in a post-apocalyptic world with only a few survivors. The character Ann (Margot Robbie) is a young adult woman who has been living alone for about a year. One day, she encounters a man named John (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who has become very ill from exposure to radiation. Ann takes care of him, and he recovers. Just as a romance begins between the two of them, another man, Caleb (Chris Pine), emerges, and it becomes evident that a love triangle is forming.

The movie does a good job giving a sense of what it would feel like to be among the only survivors in the world. The music and acting give a strong sense of atmosphere. One noteworthy aspect of the movie is how, despite being a secular production, there is frequent discussion of faith in the dialog. Ann is a Christian, and she believes that God protected her through the apocalypse and has a plan for her life.

However, this is not a movie where all of the virtues and vices are apparent and deterministically lead to certain outcomes. There is ambiguity surrounding the motives behind some actions, and a variety of moral conclusions could be drawn from plot events. For instance, some audiences may view the story as showing the consequences of sexual immorality or making compromises with one’s faith-based conscience. However, other audiences may disagree with those assessments.

As for my overall thoughts about this movie, I think that viewers who are intrigued by post-apocalyptic scenarios or serious romantic dramas may appreciate this movie and find it thought-provoking. However, I am not sure that this movie’s appeal extends far beyond its genre, and I recommend viewer discretion due to the content issues described below.

Objectionable Content

Sexuality: One scene of physical intimacy that presumably involves sexual intercourse given that the man and woman are undressing. There is another scene of a man and woman in a bedroom with the woman scantily clothed, but it appears that sexual intercourse did not happen.

Language: f-word (1), d-word (3), s-word (2), h-word (1)

Alcohol Use: Three instances where characters drink alcohol excessively, leading to behavior such as silliness or aggression.

Violence: An implied murder. Characters discuss a deadly fight in the aftermath of the global catastrophe. ***SPOILER*** A character also confesses to having killed a man who was gravely ill and wanted to die.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Negative—This was a movie that contradicted itself. I never read the book, but it had to have been better than this movie! The main character is supposed to be a Christian, but there doesn’t seem to be a real relationship there. The ending was badly done as well. It was a waste of my time. I also thought it should have been rated R.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Trina W, age 48 (USA)
Movie Critics

…“Z for Zachariah” is not at all concerned with the panicky desperation of the newly primitive but what happens after comfort and routine has set in with this new world order. …
—Cary Darling, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

…The drama brims with religious allusion and questions of how faith manifests in a world without hope. …the film throws into relief the possibility that faith is the only way to survive. Yet, what that faith finds its grounding in—an all-knowing God, scientific reason or love—is ultimately up to you, when the time comes. [3/4]
—Julia Cooper, The Globe and Mail

…thoughtful dialogue and meaningfully performances… What’s more, it does not ridicule faith, or people of faith. …
—Phil Boatwright, Preview Family Movie and TV Review

…A powder-keg plot setup triggers an underwhelming display of dramatic fireworks in “Z for Zachariah,” a postapocalyptic survival tale propelled by male/female emotional dynamics.…
—Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

…a handsome-looking film… it doesn’t lack for provocative ideas, though it never digs quite deep enough into any of them. …ambitious but ponderous post-apocalyptic Genesis tale…
—Scott Foundas, Variety

…In the end, the filmmakers have simply warped O’Brien’s novel into a love triangle and how one man's wounded ego may or may not lead him toward vengeance. The emasculation that drives the plot in the end will ultimately take Loomis to church, and it’s delivered with a casual understanding that his fall would not have been possible if it wasn’t for a woman’s supposed indiscretions, which is at least in keeping with the spirit of the Genesis story that’s so clearly and risibly inspired the scenario. [1½/4]
—Ed Gonzalez, Slant magazine

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