"They're coming..." Brad Pitt takes on swarming zombies (and a lot of reshoots) in this post-apocalyptic thriller.
Release date: 21 June, 2013.
The cast: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Matthew Fox, David Andrews, David Morse.
The pitch: As America is flooded with blood-drunk zombies, UN worker Gerry (Pitt) is called in to "traverse the world in a race against time to stop the zombie pandemic." Goodbye doting wife (Enos) and kids, hello waves of flesh-scoffing chaos.
The buzz: Fans (and that should include you) of Max Brooks' terrific 2006 novel 'World War Z: An Oral history of the Zombie War' have been frothing about how closely the film adaption will hug the book. Frothing in both excitement and anger, that is.
Reasons this could be good: Brad Pitt, on double-duty here as actor and producer, just doesn't pick bad movies. And Brooks' novel is indeed a compulsive mix of zombie horror and arresting social commentary. Even in the glimpse offered by the two-minute trailer, those chaotic shots of swarming zombies – not just running, but swarming over each like mass mountain of crazed ants – are startling and hint at a scale and ferocity greater than the undead devastation we've seen in 28 Days Later..., Dawn Of The Dead and I Am Legend. It's been shot by Tarantino and Scorsese's cinematographer Robert Richardson, so expect it to look every cent of its hefty $180m budget.
Reasons this could be bad: Stuck in development, bounced into production, then delayed for a whopping six months while it was re-written and reshot, World War Z has been ravaged by problems. Babylon 5 creator J Michael Straczynski’s screenplay (dubbed "amazing" by author Brooks) has apparently been reworked by Matthew Michael Carnahan (The Kingdom, Lions For Lambs) into a PG-13 horror-thriller blockbuster with franchise possibilities. Prometheus and Lost screenwriter Damon Lindelof – to put it mildly, a man not exactly known for wrapping up loose ends – was hired to rewrite the finale act. Hmm. And, as everyone still isn't bored of pointing out, director Marc Foster is better at movies about talking (Monster's Ball, Finding Neverland) than movies about machinegunning things (Quantum Of Solace, Machine Gun Preacher).
Best bit: 2:10-2:14 Very fast zombies. They can run and climb. We’re screwed.
LWLies' verdict: At first glance, the shots of a grey city landscape and a lone survivor conjure up memories of Alfonso Cuarón’s Children Of Men. That's the movie this should have been – a fierce, smart docu-thriller with shaky first-person interviews and thrilling survival horror intercut with terrifying archive footage of the outbreak. But as the camera pulls back, those crane shots and helicopter leaps reveal another Hollywood big picture that's far from the multicultural exploration of the zombie outbreak in Brook’s novel. No close-ups in this first trailer, so it's tough to know if the zomboids themselves will strike fear down our spines. Right now, though, the CG isn't making us shudder in the right way. Fingers crossed. And toes. And eyes.