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Scott Roberts
World War Z
on Jun 27, 2013 at 10:16:27 pm







So I guess the obvious speculation based on the previews were correct; World War Z is nothing like the fantastic book that it's based on. Given that the book provides a plethora is great material to include in a film version, the cinematic adaptation basically just resorted to focusing on their A-list star running all over the globe trying to find "patient zero." I guess I'm disappointed that we weren't gifted any of the source material, but at the same time I'm pleasantly surprised that the movie that resulted from just being an in-name only adaptation of World War Z actually ended up being sort of good...!

I guess to enjoy this movie, you have to be in one of two camps... The first camp: you've never read the book, so you could care less if they didn't follow it. Or the second: which are people who read the books, realized they aren't going to do it our way, but then just clear your head and enjoy the ride. If this movie totally sucked, then all the book complaining would be necessary. But it did its own thing, it did a lot of it pretty well, and it should be held in good regard with its own merits. I don't want to use The Shining as an example of comparison for World War Z, because Kubrick took it to a whole different level (and created a classic [WWZ isn't a classic]), but it's the same in terms of taking the framework of the book and telling a different story with the same basic tools provided.

Brad Pitt is an interesting choice for this movie for a couple of reasons. I always find it neat when A-list talent decide to star in B-movies. Because as expensive and epic as World War Z is, it really does boil down to B-horror movie fun. Like Brad Pitt crouch walking under windows to avoid being seen by zombies kind of B-movie fun. I'm not sure why he wanted to be in this movie so badly, but I guess it paid off in end; WWZ ended up being Brad Pitt's biggest opening weekend of his career, which is something I find hard to believe (much like this year's GI Joe sequel being Bruce Willis' biggest opening). What movies have these guys been making all these years that prevented them from having huge openings? Wasn't Pitt in Ocean's Eleven movies? Were those not as big as I remember them being? Anyway, I don't think Paramount would have paid as much money as they did for this movie had Matthew Fox been the lead. (RANDOM MATTHEW FOX BURN)

One of the benefits of having a huge international superstar as the lead in your zombie movie is the budget it provides. I'm sorry, I meant to say the ridiculous budget that it provides. World War Z cost $190 million dollars to make (!). Granted I know there were a lot of re-shoots and they changed basically the entire original ending (which I just read about and it was indeed awful), but the point I'm getting it is that with a budget like that, WWZ created a zombie movie the likes of which had never been seen. There are action scenes in this film that I've truly never witnessed in the genre before. Seeing the zombies smash into each other in massive groups at high speeds was pretty exciting.

And despite the fact that it had an epic feel to it, the main story was a very small-scale one. It's almost like a detective story, but with, uh, zombies! I really liked how they took the small story and put it in the framework of the worldwide problem, and it mixed well enough that I feel like I got the best of both worlds. There are a lot of little moments that seem a tad far-fetched, but I'd like you to inform me of a zombie movie where that never happens so I can award you with a solid gold medal of movie knowledge or something. To be fair and honest, the main story is kind of basic and uninspiring; but it works as a means for following the more interesting action. Don't look at this as a drama. This isn't Contagion. It's an action movie, pure and simple. The high-speed, tense, and frantic moments outweigh the boring ones tenfold.

On a technical level, I can't complain. The special effects on the massive zombie hordes were cool to look at. The editing was nice, it didn't feel like two hours. The cinematography was cool at certain parts, but they probably used up all the "iconic" shots they had in the commercials and trailers. In retrospect, I remember seeing a lot of different lighting techniques for each scenario Pitt got himself into.

Most of all, though, it's just a fun movie. It mixes large-scale terror with small jump scares pretty nicely. And it has a sense of humor. Once we finally get a closer look at the zombies near the end of the movie; they are teeth-chattering, screeching weirdos. The audience laughed at the zombies. In a time when the newest Superman movie is completely devoid of humor or lightheartedness, it's nice to know that our zombie movies can still stay fun. As we were walking down the stairs to exit the theater, the guy sitting in front of us was walking down the aisle, arms flailing and zombie screeching, made everyone around him laugh. I guess I'm saying the audience had a good time.

And there is already talk of a sequel in the works because this first one was successful enough, I suppose. I don't see how $66 million against $190 million is successful, but I'm sure Pitt will bring in a lot of international money. But sequels are a good thing. I've always thought that WWZ would have worked way better as a TV miniseries, or even better, as a more interesting and less draggy TV show than The Walking Dead. This would have been a great episode, about the UN guy who was trying to find Patient Zero. But it really doesn't even tap the source material's bounty of good zombie fun. So I hope they make a sequel. I hope they make two sequels. I'd love to see what they can do with it. Maybe next time around we'll actually get to the best story in the book, about the helicopter pilot that crashes in the bayou and has to survive the night in a zombie infested swamp. [closes eyes] [crosses fingers] "Please don't cast Michelle Rodriguez... Please don't cast Michelle Rodriguez...!"

8 out of 10


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Stephen Smith
Re: World War Z
on Jun 27, 2013 at 10:31:50 pm

I'm not into horror movies. Back in high school shop class we had to watch all of the movies that show people getting hurt really bad to scare the crap out of you so you will treat the power tools with respect. I'm the guy who passed out during one of the movies with someones hand cut off. Do you want this to be you! Respect the tools! Reminds me a lot of the one arm man on Arrested Development.

Anyways, Zombie movies tend to be really gross with zombie's eating brains and stuff. I know you love it Scott but it's not for me. The trailers and your review make it sound like this movie is more of a PG-13 action film. Is that the case or is there lots of blood and body parts getting eaten?

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Scott Roberts
Re: World War Z
on Jun 27, 2013 at 10:37:49 pm

Oh definitely, it's way less gory than usual zombie fare. If I really think about it, I can't say there was *any* gore... It's a lot of far away action and swarms of zombies overtaking people running away and stuff. It's probably the most family friendly zombie movie ever given wide release, short of like ParaNorman or something. Though, probably still not for the super squeamish.

That being said, coincidentally, someone does get their hand cut off in WWZ...! :)


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Tim Wilson
Re: World War Z
on Jun 28, 2013 at 3:48:10 pm

I haven't seen this yet, but plan to. A couple of quick notes:

a) Glad to see the shout-out to the book, Scott.

EVERYBODY: READ THIS BOOK.

It's absolutely NOT a zombie book, or a horror book in any way. It's an epidemiological detective story as a PLOT, but its primary pleasure is as a virtuoso feat of epic storytelling.

(BTW, the author's parents are Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft. Not that that has anything to do with anything. Just kinda cool.)

Not to say that it's great literature...but none of us read THAT sht. LOL Think of it like Hunger Games for any of you who don't normally do teen fiction, but you loved it anyway...and actually wondered why anyone would call it teen fiction. (Uhm, because the author wrote it for teenagers after having only done books for pre-teens, and it was published by a company that only publishes books for teens and younger?) You managed to get past your biases and experience one of the magical experiences of 21st century fiction.

This one isn't quite that strong because it's just one book, and there are a dozen compelling protagonists, instead of just one (who happens to be one for the ages). But you know what, it's not NOT that powerful either. It's just very different.

Read it.


b) Scott, the reason Brad wanted to do this movie is because he read the book and loved it. He's not just a star, but one of the producers who guided it through the adaptation process.

Like you, I felt the book as it was written was too epic in scope to translate to a movie -- it'd actually work nicely as a 6-8 ep UK-style mini-series -- so compositing characters was inevitable.

Again, not having seen it, I don't know if it's as successful as Moneyball, but same deal. Moneyball was an essentially unfilmable book about math -- NOT about baseball; about MATH -- yet, Brad managed, almost by force of will, to push it past a bunch of drafts that were nowhere close to working, to land on something that really did deserve an Oscar nom for best adaptation.

If that's the rest of his career, encouraging the adaptation of hard-to-film books into enjoyable popular entertainments for him to star in, that'd be pretty damn cool.


c) Which is why, Steven, you might like it or not like it, but I;d encourage you to consider thinking about it more broadly. It seems to me that the people who are LEAST likely to enjoy it are the ones who MOST want to see a zombie movie.

In any case, a wonderful book.


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Stephen Smith
Re: World War Z
on Jun 28, 2013 at 4:56:35 pm

Sold, I'll see it. Maybe not in the theater since Fast & Furious is highest on my list. But at least on Blu-ray from my good friend Red Box.

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Kylee Peña
Re: World War Z
on Jun 29, 2013 at 1:36:06 am

I guess I'll have to check this out when it's in Redbox. The trailers haven't motivated me to watch it in the least.

Tim/Scott and whoever else in this thread that may have read the book - any resemblance to The Stand?

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Scott Roberts
Re: World War Z
on Jul 2, 2013 at 8:58:55 pm

I've never read The Stand, but I've seen the miniseries (which doesn't hold up very well to the test of time), and BASED ON THAT, I'll say the two things aren't similar. I guess their both post apocalyptic wasteland type stories, but WWZ (the book) gets very political and a lot of the chapters are spent just talking about rebuilding structure in society and how certain groups of people have adapted to relocation and such. While others are very personal stories of survival in very specific situations. I'd recommend the book, it's a very interesting read, told completely in the style of interviews with people who survived the zombie apocalypse. And the WWZ movie also didn't feel like The Stand either, it wasn't nearly as moody and atmospheric.


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Mike Cohen
Re: World War Z
on Jul 2, 2013 at 10:51:55 pm

My wife and I saw this over the weekend in 3D. Like a lot of recent 3D movies, I did not feel it added much. Some of the interior scenes were perhaps more present, but big action pieces and wideshots are not really enhanced.

From what I have read, the original book was like the 9/11 report, so the fact that someone figured out how to make that into a movie is amazing. I also read that they did a bunch of re-writing even after they did most of the filming, and there is an unused final battle that was cut completely. No wonder it cost $200 million.

Overall it was a fun movie with a familiar Outbreak-like plot. It is basically Outbreak with zombies and a better looking leading man and no leading woman. Yeah they gave the lady from The Killing a big action movie role, but she was basically playing the mom protecting the kids (which is ok but it could have been anyone).

Anyway we like movies like Outbreak. I have not seen Outbreak since my first date with my wife, but you see why we like this kind of movie.

I liked the globe-trotting plot with Brad going to Korea and Israel and Wales. They never should have put that shot of the zombies breaching the walls outside Jerusalem in the previews - that gave away a major plot point.

Ok, next stop Pacific Rim. Think I will splurge for the IMAX on this one which is actually cheaper than RealD at our AMC theater.

Elysium also looks good.

The Lone Ranger looks as bad as the reviews.

RIPD looks like MIB but with dead people. I would see it on RedBox just for Jeff Bridges who seems to have created another memorable character. Not worth a movie ticket.

Gravity - oddly resembles a screenplay that I am pretty sure I never sent through e-mail so must be a coincidence

Ender's Game - trailer looks cool. However the trailer makes sure we all know that every cast member has either won or been nominated for an Academy Award, as if that makes for a good sci-fi movie. But hopes are high.

Mike Cohen


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Tim Wilson
Re: World War Z
on Jul 3, 2013 at 5:15:51 pm

[Mike Cohen] "From what I have read, the original book was like the 9/11 report, so the fact that someone figured out how to make that into a movie is amazing"

It appears that this has become Brad Pitt's career: a producer of difficult-to-adapt movies, stepping in to manage final drafts, then starring in 'em. What an awesome, awesome job to have! Certainly high pressure though.

[Mike Cohen] "Ender's Game - trailer looks cool. However the trailer makes sure we all know that every cast member has either won or been nominated for an Academy Award, as if that makes for a good sci-fi movie."

World War Z is a terrific book. To Scott's point, the subtitle is THE story: "An Oral History of The Zombie War." There are dozens of characters, all telling a small part of the story. That's also the source of its power: there are always a million small slices, many of which have literally nothing to do with each other.

That movie was unmakeable. Hence my suggestion that it might have worked better as a 6 or 8 episode miniseries with a smaller budget. It's about the stories, not the effects...or even the Zombies.

But hey, Moneyball was unmakeable as written, and came out pretty well.


Ender's Game is a COMPLETELY different story in some ways, in that the book is considered a classic of the first order in the field of hard sci-fi. Its roots go back to a 1977 short story (remember when magazines like Argosy were even more important than books?), but was released as a novel in 1985. It won pretty much every award there was to win, and its exploration of military strategy was so far-reaching, so imaginative, and so persuasive, that for many years it was required reading for Marine officers. It's still on the recommended reading list.

The reason why it was unmakeable as written is that Ender is six years old. Even though his is the military strategy -- and he's the one who EXECUTES that strategy too -- that saves the world from alien invaders, you never forget that over the course of the book, the kid ages all the way up to the whopping age of NINE. It's a huge deal that he's REALLY a kid, not just a tween...

...but who'd go watch a $150 million movie about a 6-9 year old? Who'd watch it even if they did?

The marketing makes sense because it takes too damn long to even explain what the story is -- and you'll notice that they didn't even try in the trailer. So if you don't know the story, you don't know any of the actual stars, you hire a bunch of known adults and hope that people will buy a ticket to see THEM.

This strategy worked pretty well for Harry Potter. Even long after they NEEDED famous adults, that remained a core part of the pleasure of those movies: Richard Harris, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Emma Thompson, Gary Oldman, Kenneth Branagh, even somewhat lesser lights like Robbie Coltrane, Imelda Staunton and Brendan Gleeson -- their names alone raised eyebrows, and their performances gave the movies as a whole the kind of depth that no number of talented kids possibly could on their own.

Calling the book Ender's Game influential is an understatement. It codified the connection between videogames and the military, features a plucky youngster who saves the world, highlights a couple of smartass kids on the internet (years before there WAS an internet that normal people knew existed) who stir up trouble on a global scale, a half dozen or more other things that were completely new at the time, and have since been taken on in a million movies in every genre (everything from Searching For Bobby Fisher to Hunger Games...Starship Troopers is the same movie on the ground instead of in the sky)...

...which very much raises the question: can something this foundational, written that long ago, that has inspired, been adapted as, and blatantly ripped off for 30 years POSSIBLY look anything but derivative?

So for me, the fact that every child character in the movie is 5-8 years or more too old already sets it up for failure on at least one level. It can't possibly be the same movie. We're far enough down the road that a teen saving the world is a trope. It's a given.

Instead, imagine The Hunger Games starring the frail little sister, only YOUNGER, and SCRAWNIER, and you can get a glimpse of how off-kilter Ender's Game is.

Regardless of the quality of the movie, Ender's Game belongs on any list of sci-fi classics. It doesn't aim to have the social relevance of something like I Robot, Farenheit 451 or Stranger In A strange Land...but it will be around and considered a must-read classic for every bit as long as those are.


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Stephen Smith
Re: World War Z
on Sep 23, 2013 at 5:30:14 pm

Thanks guys, I did enjoy it. It was a lot of fun and I really wanted to know what was going to happen on the plane after I watched the trailer. That part of the film was really cool. I'm curious, you mentioned that the re-wrote part of the film. What was taken out and what was added?

Also, I agree with Mike, they put to much in the trailer and I wish I didn't see the second one. It gave away to much of the film.

I missed something, in Jerusalem the guy mentions Brad Pitts back story and that he got fired for a report he wrote. Did they give any more details?

Stephen Smith

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Mike Cohen
Re: World War Z
on Sep 23, 2013 at 5:42:02 pm

It was especially dominant in the WWZ trailer, but something I have noticed in a lot of action trailers especially is the heavy bass drone as an alternative to dramatic music. I guess you could say that a drone in one note is a musical element.

Anyone have thoughts on this?

Mike


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Stephen Smith
Re: World War Z
on Sep 23, 2013 at 5:46:58 pm

Mike,
I'm a big fan of that heavy drone type sound. Inspection really used it a lot.

Take a look at these two cool VFX Breakdowns:













Stephen Smith

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Scott Roberts
Re: World War Z
on Sep 23, 2013 at 9:21:25 pm

[Stephen Smith] "I'm curious, you mentioned that the re-wrote part of the film. What was taken out and what was added?"

Here's a pretty good breakdown of the original ending, and what/why they had to reshoot it:

http://screenrant.com/world-war-z-movie-original-ending-sequel/

Those VFX reels are pretty awesome.

Also:







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Stephen Smith
Re: World War Z
on Sep 23, 2013 at 9:38:32 pm

Oh my words that ending sucks. It would make the movie feel really long and the ending that made it into the final movie was much more cleaver. Snow slows them down, that is kind of like water killing aliens.

Stephen Smith

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Stephen Smith
Re: World War Z
on Sep 23, 2013 at 10:29:32 pm

Another cool making of:





Stephen Smith

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