Sunday, June 23, 2013

World War Z ★★★★

Zombies Rule Okay!

Opens in Australia: 20th June
Other Countries: Release Information

          Zombies are the new black. You know they’ve entered popular culture when a respected actor like Brad Pitt stars in and produces a Zombie film via his ‘Plan B’ production company. “Five years ago, I knew nothing about zombies,” says Pitt. “Now, I consider myself an expert.”
Once residing in the B-grade domain, where no mainstream author or filmmaker would dare to go less they lose their take-me-seriously badge, Zombies have become a big draw in entertainment. This year alone, we have Warm Bodies (a zombie love story), The World’s End’ (a comedy coming soon), the third season of the very gory ‘The Walking Dead’ (the highest rated show on cable television), and now the thriller drama ‘World War Z’.
           The film began as a post-apocalyptic horror novel by Max Brooks entitled ‘World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War’ using a multi-person, testimonial style. Director, Marc Forster comments, “The novel’s approach did not lend itself to a motion picture screenplay. We did try to follow the narrative of the book but found, having gone through the process, the dramatic tension was significantly diminished, at least in cinematic terms.”
       And there is tension aplenty, along with zombies who don’t shuffle aimlessly; these guys run faster than a cheetah. In fact the quip, “You don’t have to outrun a lion to survive, just the other guy” played through my mind as each victim was pursued.
           From almost the opening scenes in Philadelphia, we are hurled into the action with Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), an ex-UN worker who in his past worked in volatile, dangerous political situations. He’s since given up the peril to be with his family, Karin (Mireille Enos) and their two daughters.
          When a rapidly spreading, zombie virus takes over the world, Gerry is the guy called to escort an expert scientist into zombie territory to track down ‘Patient Zero’. First though the UN must rescue him and his family from the infected city of Philadelphia; no mean feat when there are thousands of zombies everywhere zombifying healthy people in seconds with one bite.
       Gerry must then leave his family behind at the UN Headquarters, now a ship off the coast of the US, and travel around the world following clues in the hope of finding an antidote. 
          There are certainly some edge of the seat, gut-churning moments as Gerry and his military escort experience some back-against-the-wall moments.

        The action is extreme and realistic and, surprisingly, was filmed in Glasgow which doubled for Philadelphia—the cities share similar architecture, some of which was augmented during post-production. Veteran second unit director Simon Crane who orchestrated much of the ‘World War Z’ mayhem, shares, “We crashed over 150 different cars. We crashed the garbage truck and slammed Brad’s Volvo into an ambulance and various other things. It was big scale. At least 80% of the vehicles were written off. We shut down blocks and blocks of Glasgow for controlled car crashes outside the main buildings.”
         The other stars of the film, the zombies, were as real-life as the un-dead get. Creating crowd scenes which included zombies called for its own logistical feat, says producer Ian Bryce, “If you have 500 extras that need to look a certain way, that’s an awful lot of people required to get them ready. We were shooting one day with the full extra count and I remember coming on to the set and you literally couldn’t move because of the size of the crew that was there to get everyone ready. And then a couple hours later we sent the zombies away for a little break as we were going to do something else just with Brad and a few other people and it was like the set became barren. It was hilarious.”
         ‘World War Z’ is not just a film for the zombie or horror fans, its solid script and performances will please most thriller and action fans. Brad Pitt, despite his huge star-persona, rarely appears in blockbuster films, tending to prefer dramatic indie roles worthy of his acting talents. Thanks to his solid portrayal of an ordinary man with, literally, the world on his shoulders ‘World War Z’ is lifted a notch above the average.
       It’s Brad Pitt versus the zombies and the winner this time is the cinema-goer.