World War Z has finally made it to theatres! Optioned by Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment in 2007, Max Brook’s novel, an oral history of humanity’s global war against the undead was always going to be a tricky one to tackle.
Boasting an initial budget of 120million, it was way higher than any other zombie flicks (28 days later was made for £5m, Zack Snyder’s 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead cost $24m). But rightfully so, if we were to really witness the type of global epidemic recounted in the book.
Mired in constant re-writes that included calling in Damon Lindelof and Drew Goddard to overhaul the final act of the script ( of which the original cut had been filmed, mind you), budget overages and rumoured on-set riffs between director Marc Forster and producer/star Brad Pitt, it’s really a miracle in itself that a coherent final cut got made.
But let’s forget all that. Cos when you’re sat in that darkened cinema, and the curtains draw open, only what’s shown onscreen matters.
And boy was it epic!
Fans of the novel take note: the only thing similar to the film, apart from the title, is that there are zombies.
Gerry Lane, a former UN investigator, is a caring family man. How do we know that? He makes pancakes for his daughters. Also makes cooing noises to calm his daughter down when she has an asthma attack. And that’s all the time we have for setting that up, cos things escalate quickly, as they’re trapped in a traffic jam when all hell breaks loose in downtown Philly.
The speed and scale at which Philadelphia was lost is chilling and exciting to watch. Gerry and family struggle to survive the night as he puts in a call to his former boss to evacuate them to safety.
They are taken to a naval ship off the coast. Safe. As long as Gerry accepts the mission to go around the world looking for clues to locate patient zero to try and formulate a vaccine or cure and turn the tide against the zombies.
He’s whisked off to South Korea and Israel (Russia as the climax to the original script has been completely left on the editing floor) where we’re treated to more zombie swarming and grand scale destruction, including a nailbiting incident aboard a commercial airliner before we’re landed on a medical research facility in Wales for a cosy and up-close encounter with the zombies.
By the power of Brad Pitt and a refreshing gulp of Pepsi, a plot device is found, and the tides are turned.
“But it’s just the beginning”, narrates Brad, setting us up nicely for the already sort of greenlit sequel.
Oh, here’s a meta idea for the sequel!
Set 10 years after the war, the sequel is about a group of movie execs trying to make a movie about this very dark times, and the troubles plaguing the production. Starring Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane. Think Tropic Thunder. Watch for a cameo from Les Grossman.
You’re welcome, Paramount and Plan B!