World War Z

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World War Z movie poster

The long arduous production trail of World War Z is going to leave many viewers underwhelmed this opening weekend. Yet, to those who’ve followed its troubled history – from Brad Pitt acquiring Max Brook’s unfilmable novel, through multiple screenwriters, re-shoots and production pitfall after pitfall – it’s an impressive quilt work stitched together in an attempt to hide it’s seams.

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The production swallowed its helmer Marc Forster, who was Brad Pitt’s directorial choice. Mistrusted by the studio on the action sequences, they surrounded Forster with second-unit crews who could handle the action sequences, while Forster focused on character and story. An understandable studio decision on a $125 million production, but Forster is a prolific director, who has traversed “Monster’s Ball,” “Stranger Than Fiction,” “Quantum of Solace.” Perhaps it was the failing of Forster’s “Machine Gun Preacher” that had the studio worried.

Forster stuck it out to the end and still has his name to be blamed on the project. In the end, intimate scenes between characters playout effectively, but it largely feels like Forster survived the production, rather than lead with a singular vision. That singular vision was already diluted from multiple shift-changes from screenwriters. There was an original adaptation by J. Michael Straczynski, which was apparently amazing, but got a rewrite by Matthew Michael Carnahan. Production moved ahead in 2010/2011, but inflated into a $177 million movie and resulted in more script re-writes by Damon “Curse-you-for-‘Prometheus” Lindelof.

The film had no third act essentially, at least not a useable one for filming and Lindelof couldn’t fix it or finish it. Enter Drew Goddard for more rewrites, as the production continued to balloon towards $200 million. What we’re left with is what many will consider a poorly constructed third act. Imagine the pressure on Goddard. He had to seal-the-deal on an over-inflated production, while still leaving it open as a gateway to a possible trilogy.

As screenwriters banged their heads against this zombie hoard, the production continued to dodge fatal bullets. One of note was the instance of being cited for gun trafficking by an Hungarian anti-terrorism squad, upon the delivery of props for filming in Budapest. ( )

It also seems that the original Director of Photography, Robert Richardson, famous for collaborations with Scorsese, Tarantino, and Oliver Stone, was an escapee. He was replaced by Ben Seresin and albeit a skilled DP, the differences can be seen clearly in scenes. There are certain scenes in the film that just ring out in saturated brilliance and meaningful composition, and others just feel like skilled, big-budget safe-plays. We’re talking 50 yard completions from a moody quarterback vs. 10 yard run-plays just to get through the game.

There is endless fascination with the turmoil World War Z experienced. Being briefed on this intel before jumping into it, for me, is the difference between having a parachute and an umbrella at 30,000 feet. Max Brooks’ book is a brilliant piece of socio-political zombie madness, and the film adaptation has its moments of capturing that. Especially in the reminder that closing yourself in, whether as an individual or a nation, is never the safest option. With that lesson, approaching this film with narrow-minded expectations of what a Zombie-movie should be will certainly implode on you.

Watch World War Z full movie online, it was an attempt to use the Zombie-craze to say something about the apocalyptic haze much of the world is living in. Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way Productions went head-to-head with Brad Pitt’s Plan B Productions over the rights to the book. The question is would Appian Way have survived this production? As what I largely admire about Brad Pitt is he survived this apocalyptic production, on and off screen.