Trash Film Guru Vs. The Summer Blockbusters : “World War Z”


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Okay, I get it — fans of Max Brooks’ best-selling “zombie apocalypse” novel World War Z are pissed off about director Marc (Monster’s BallQuantum Of Solace) Forster’s big-budget, big-screen “adaptation” of it because the finished product bears essentially no recognizable similarity to its printed-page predecessor. Heck, some are even going so far as to say that they actually like the film, they just feel that it should be called something else.

On the other hand, it seems that more or less everyone who hasn’t read the book loves the movie.

Much as I’d enjoy picking a side in this, the latest great “genre geek debate,”  I honestly can’t, simply because I don’t really fit into either of the “warring” camps, seeing as how I neither read the novel nor loved the film with the kind of awestruck wonder its most fervent partisans seem to be brimming over with.

Oh, sure, it was pleasantly entertaining enough — United Nations bad-ass-for-hire Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt — who, let’s face it, is probably contractually obligated to always play somebody at least a little bit cooler than the Average Joe) races against the clock, and around the globe, to keep his wife, Karin (Mireille Enos of TV’s The Killing) and their kids safe from a massive viral plague that essentially mashes together elements of the scenarios George Romero laid out in both The Crazies and his seminal “Living Dead” flicks, only with a much larger budget that enables the filmmakers to give us a more international perspective on the goings-on. Governments are strained to breaking point and/or collapse entirely, WHO and the world’s various military forces struggle to get a handle on things, no area is left unaffected, no one is safe —you get the picture.

The script went through four sets of hands — Babylon 5 creator and frequent comics scribe J. Michael Straczynski gave way to former Lost head honcho and occasional comics scribe Damon Lindelof who in turn gave way to Drew Goddard who in turn gave way to Matthew Michael Carnahan — and, as you can imagine, is something of a mess as a result. Fortunately, it never slows down long enough for you to fully realize that fact, and instead keeps you on the edge of your seat with its PG-13-level action and semi-violence (notice I don’t say anything about gore — sorry, die-hard zombie-holics) from the time it clocks in to the time it knocks off and heads for the bar around the corner.

The end result is something of a hustle — it’ll slowly dawn on you as you make your way home from the theater that what you just saw really wasn’t anything too special, but what the hell — you were too busy having fun to notice.

And that was probably the whole point, really. I don’t think Forster and his literal army of screenwriters set out to reinvent the wheel here or overturn the sacred “Romero Rules” permanently. They were just the guys brought in to make something of a damn popular book that Paramount bid a fortune to obtain the rights to and if, at the end of the day, all that survived of World War Z as most folks knew it was the title, well — that’s pretty much all they were paying for, anyway. Beyond that the only edicts from the studio “suits” were probably to land a huge star, load up on the CGI, and deliver a product that the average summertime movie-goer would find to be a reasonable enough investment of ten bucks and (roughly) two hours.

Judging it on that scorecard, you’d have to say they can all pat themselves on the back, say “mission accomplished,” and go home. Those hoping for a movie that would revolutionize the genre on celluloid the same way the book did in print are bound to be left feeling a bit disappointed, as is anyone who bothers to actually think about what they’re seeing while they’re seeing it, but for anyone and everyone else, hey — it’s a decent enough little thrill ride. Grab some popcorn, sit back, and please don’t struggle against your inner 12-year-old.

Now, as to the other raging debate splitting the internet about whether or not this is actually a horror movie or just a “thriller” with some genre trappings —

Forget it. I’m sooooo not going there. One nerd-controversy per review is my limit.

Review: World War Z (dir. by Marc Forster)


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I’ll get this out of the way and just say it: World War Z the film pretty much has nothing in common with the acclaimed novel of the same name by author Max Brooks (reviewed almost at the very beginning of the site). Ok, now that we have that out of the way it’s time to get to the important part and that’s how did the film version turn out on it’s own merits.

World War Z was a film that took the long, winding and rough road to finally get to the big-screen. Whether it was the five different writers brought in to work on the script (J. Michael Straczynski of Babylon 5 fame came onboard first with Christopher McQuarrie coming unofficially to help tighten a few scenes in the end) to the massive changes made to the original source material that was bound to anger the fans of the novel, the film by Marc Forster had an uphill climb to accomplish even before the final product even came to market.

I was as surprised as man others were that the finished product was better than I had anticipated. Some had very low expectations about World War Z coming in due to the rumors and news reports coming in about the problems during production, but it doesn’t change the fact that the unmitigated disaster predicted by every film blogger and critic beforehand never came to fruition.

World War Z might not have been what fans of the novel had wanted it to be, but when seen on it’s own merit the film was both exciting and tension-filled despite some flaws in the final script and use of well-worn horror tropes.

The film begins with a visual montage interspersing scenes of nature (particularly the swarming, hive-like behavior of certain animals like birds, fish, and insects), alarmist news media reporting and the mindless celebrity-driven entertainment media that’s so big around the world. From there we’re introduced to the main protagonist of the film in one Gerry Lane (played by Brad Pitt) and his family. We see that the Lane family definitely love and care for each other with his wife Karin (Mireille Enos in the supportive wife role) and their two young daughters, Rachel and Constance. The film could easily have spent a lot of time establishing this family and their relationship towards each other, but we move towards the film’s first major sequence pretty much right after the opening. It’s this choice to not linger on the characters too long that becomes both a strength and a weakness to the film’s narrative throughout.

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World War Z finally shows why it’s not your typical zombie film with it’s first major sequence in the center of downtown Philadelphia as Gerry and his family sees themselves in bumper-to-bumper traffic. As they wait there are some subtle hints that something might just be somewhat awry ahead of them as we see more and more police racing towards some sort of emergency ahead of the family and more and more helicopters flying overhead. There’s a brief lull in the scene before all hell breaks loose and the film’s zombie apocalypse aspect goes from 0 straight to 11 in a split second.

It’s this sequence of all-encompassing chaos overtaking a major metropolitan city seen both on the ground through the eyes of Gerry Lane and then on flying overhead wide shots of the city that gives World War Z it’s epic scope that other zombie films (both great and awful) could never truly capture. It’s also in this opening action sequence that we find the film’s unique take on the tried-and-true zombie. While not the slow, shambling kind that was described in the novel, these fast-movers (owes a lot more on the Rage-infected from 28 Days Later) bring something new to the zomgie genre table by acting like a cross between a swarm of birds or insects with the rapidly infectious nature of a virus.

These zombies do not stop to have a meal of it’s victims once they’ve bitten one but instead rapidly moves onto the next healthy human in order to spread the contagion it carries. We even get an idea of how quickly a bitten victim dies and then turns into one of “Zekes” as a soldier has ended up nicknaming them. It’s this new wrinkle in the zombie canon that adds to the film’s apocalyptic nature as we can see just how the speed of the infection and the swarm-like behavior of the zombies could easily take down the emergency services of not just a city and state but of entire nations.

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World War Z works best when it doesn’t linger too long between action sequences. Trying to inject some of the themes and ideas that made the novel such a joy to read only comes off as an uncomfortable attempt to try and placate fans of the novel. When we get scenes like Philadelphia in settings like Jerusalem and, in smaller scales but no less tense, like in South Korea and on a plane, the film works as a nice piece of summer action fare. This works in the first two thirds of the film but a sudden shift in the final third in Cardiff, Wales could be too jarring of a tonal shift in storytelling for some.

While the change from epic and apocalyptic to intimate and contained in the final third was such a sudden change this sequence works, but also shows just how bad the original final third of the film was to make this sudden change. It proves to be somewhat anticlimactic when compared to the epic nature of the first two-thirds of the film. We get a final third that’s more your traditional horror film. In fact, one could easily see World War Z as two different films vying for control and, in the end, the two halves having to try to co-exist and make sense.

World War Z doesn’t bring much of the sort of societal commentaries and themes that we get from the very best of zombie stories, but it does bring the sort of action that we rarely get from zombie films. The film actually doesn’t come off as your traditional zombie film, but more like a disaster story that just happened to have zombies as the root cause instead of solar flares, sudden ice age or alien invasion.

So, while World War Z only shares the title with the source novel it was adapting and pretty much not much else, the film wasn’t the unmitigated disaster that had been predicted for months leading up to it’s release. It’s a fun, rollercoaster ride of film that actually manages to leave an audience wanting to know more instead of being bombarded with so much action that one becomes desensitized and bored by it. There’s no question that a better film, probably even a great one, lurks behind the fun mess that’s the World War Z we’ve received, but on it’s own the film more than delivers on the promise that most films during the summer fails to achieve and that’s to entertain.

Trailer: Star Trek Into Darkness (Super Bowl Exclusive)


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The sequel to J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek is just months away. It returns not just Abrams into the director’s chair but also the whole cast of the rebooted franchise back to boldly go where no one’s gone before.

Star Trek Into Darkness (still an awkward title but then we don’t to watch a film in the theaters because we like or don’t like how the title sounds) just released it’s latest trailer (this time a TV spot) during Super Bowl XLVII. The spot has new scenes and images that the previous teasers and trailers didn’t already show. We may have gotten a hint into the villain portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch in the film. While the name Khan has never been mentioned in any ad and marketing spots since the film was announced I’d be very surprised if the villain is not some sort of analogue of that classic Star Trek rogue.

Star Trek Into Darkness is set for a May 17, 2013 release date.

Source: Joblo Movie Network

Trailer: Prometheus (International Launch)


We get what could be the definitive trailer for Ridley Scott’s prequel to his Alien film.

This latest trailer is the international launch trailer and runs just a shade under 3 minutes. We definitely get a sense of what the film is about but not so much that it spoils the film’s entire story. Some have been anticipating this film since it was first announced and with each release of production stills and teasers the hype just continues to build. Then there are those who hate this film without even seeing it because they see it as either a cash grab or an attempt by a filmmaker to break a string of sub-par films.

I stand pretty much between these two camps. While I’ve always enjoyed Ridley Scott’s work even those he whiffs badly on I’m also hesitant to fully embrace this prequel as a can’t-miss without having seen it. So much about the Alien franchise has been ruined by badly made sequels and mash-ups that it’s going to take something momentous to have me put unquestioned faith back into the franchise.

Maybe Scott returning to something he’s familiar with and having had learned more about filmmaking since the first film means he’ll bring something new to the franchise and help bring it back from the brink of mediocrity. Here’s to hoping that is the case. One thing I’m sure of is that he’s got an all-star cast to work with.

Prometheus is set for a June 8, 2012 release date.

Latest Prometheus Trailer via AMC Theatres


AMC Theatres were cool enough to have Prometheus Director Sir Ridley Scott and Co-Writer Damon Lindelof on hand to discuss some of the ideas behind their film, which opens in June. It looks like the new trailer that comes with it gives away a little more to the overall story, which has easily pushed this into my first pick for that “must see” movie this year. Some of the questions were pretty interesting, some dealing with the possible religious aspects of the story (in terms of the “Big Questions” that are asked), while others asked about connections to the Original Alien. One of the things that Scott pointed out was that he’d been there and done that with the first movie, so he didn’t want this one to be the same as that. One question and answer leaves me with my ears ringing and a cheese like grin stuck on my face:

Attendant: (Paraphrased) “In the original Alien, you had the monster come out of the man’s chest, and the actors didn’t know about it. Should we expect any surprises like that with this film?”

Sir Ridley Scott: “Oooooh yes!” (emphatically nods).

Thanks go out to AMC for making the trailer available on Youtube. Cool stuff. The actual Livestream of the Ridley Scott / Damon Lindelof interview can be found on the Livestream site, which is still repeating the interview that aired earlier this evening.

Prometheus: Peter Weyland TED 2023 (Video Clip)


The video above was released today by 20th Century Fox as part of their marketing machine to help create buzz for their upcoming summer blockbuster scifi film Prometheus.

It’s a clip of a fictional keynote speech by one Peter Weyland at the TED 2023 conference. Guy Pearce plays the role of Peter Weyland and talks about how technology’s influence in human history from the beginning with fire (he mentions the Greek myth of Prometheus stealing the technology of fire from the gods and giving it to man) all the way to artificial intelligence and realistic cybernetic constructs.

Anyone who has been a fan of the Alien franchise will recognize the name Weyland. It’s the fictional transnational corporation which has become a major part of the films in the franchise and, to a degree, even to the Predator franchise. They’re the corporation which sends Ripley and the crew of the ore mining hauler Nostromo to the desolate planet of LV-426 where they encounter the very lifeform that would become one of film’s iconic monsters. It is also the corporation which 70+ years later would send a terraforming colony to the very same planet which would become a major part of the plot for Aliens. Even the David Fincherdirected third film, Alien 3, would use the corporation as the monolithic badguy behind-the-scenes.

Weyland is just part of the corporation’s name as through the years it would combine with another corporation to become Weyland-Yutani. While the aliens in the franchise have been the immediate threat in all the films in the franchise it would be Weyland-Yutani who became the face of the corporate evil that continues to try to get samples of the very alien the franchise is known for.

It’s going to be interesting how this viral video ties into the upcoming Ridley Scott “prequel” to Alien and whether Weyland-Yutani will play a major role in the film’s plot. One thing I’m sure is that Pearce definitely plays a convincing corporate visionary with a God-complex that’s part Steve Jobs and part Richard Branson (if both iconic businessmen channeled their inner-darkside).

Prometheus is set  for a June 8, 2012 release date.

Trailer: Prometheus (dir. Ridley Scott)


This week leading up to the Christmas weekend has surely been quite a busy one for film fans everywhere. Earlier in the week we got to see the new trailer for The Dark Knight Rises (and to a lesser extent the trailer for Wrath of the Titans). That was soon followed a day later by the first teaser trailer for Peter Jackson’s upcoming return to the world of Middle-Earth with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Now we reach the triumvirate of awesome film trailers for the week with the release of the first official trailer for Ridley Scott’s return to the film franchise which made him a household name and helped redefined sci-fi (especially of the horror variety) films.

The trailer for Prometheus looks beautiful especially when viewed on 720p/1080p HD. It still doesn’t explain just exactly what the plot of the film is, but it does show some interesting imagery which harkens back to the original Alien from 1979. We even get to see a glimpse of the pilot chair where the “space jockey” sits and the very ship itself found by Ripley and the crew of the Nostromo from the first film. Even the trailer pays major homage to the original film by slowly revealing the film’s title one section at a time.

Scott has been saying that Prometheus is not a prequel to Alien and that it’s a film that could stand on it’s own without people needing to see the films in the franchise. So far, we haven’t glimpsed any of the typical xenomorphswhich defines the franchise. Time to see if they make an appearance when the film finally comes out on June 8. 2012.