Posts Tagged ‘World War Z’

In 1968, George A. Romero and co-writer John Russo made a black and white film on a small budget, it became one of the most successful independent films of all-time. It was Night of the Living Dead.

I won’t dig up old stories about copyright woes, remakes or go through his career and the like, there are plenty of documentaries, books and websites about his zombie films before zombie films (became let’s just say) mainstream, he revolutionised horror creating a whole sub genre of horror. Yes, Romero did make other films and TV shows, but Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead had a personal and lasting impact on me. Also without Romero there would be no 28 Days Later, Return of the Living Dead, Zombie Flesh Eaters, Zombie Land, Shaun of the Dead, World War Z and certainly no Walking Dead to name a few, heck there’d be no zombie genre. His influence is so wide, it’s amazing how much money, flashy big-budget films and shows have been made off his back.

I digress, so big George – filmmaker, writer and editor, his touch stretched over to the UK in form of a tubed TV and touched a young Esmonde sometime during the 1980s. I don’t recall the specific years, a late night showing of Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, then at some point Day of the Dead on a VHS. I was hooked to his gore-filled and satirical horrors. He inspired an epidemic of imitators (myself included). In 2010 my own novel Dead Pulse was published (based my 2007 erroneously published short) and without Romero, this tribute pulp would never have existed. While George was busy with his adoring fans I remember talking to his wife Suzanne, she kindly took a copy to give to George, I didn’t want to give it to him directly, because I didn’t want him to get the impression that I wished him read it (I’d be embarrassed if he ever did, maybe he used it as tinder on a cold Canadian night) but I gave it to her to give to him at a later time out of respect because I wanted him to know what an influence he’d had on my writing and film-making work. “It’s debatably not my best one,” I’d said. We shared a laugh and had a conversation, Suzanne was every bit as pleasant as George himself saying that he’d be touched and she was every bit sincerer.

People say something like – ‘avoid meeting your heroes, you may be disappointed’, I’ve met two of mine and on both occasions they have been everything I hoped, both are now sadly no longer with us. George is one of them. Two years ago I got to spend sometime with George and basically thank him, I can truly say that and I was not disappointed, as well as a great talent he was a kind and gentle giant, full of humour, modest to the core and a down to earth gentleman. My thoughts are with his wife and family.

He a left behind a terrific legacy to be enjoyed. He will be missed.

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A mysterious virus like infection spreads rapidly throughout the world and a man in order to guarantee his family safety is tasked to locate the origin of the outbreak and assist in finding a cure.
Without drawing comparison to Max Brooks’ novel, World War Z’s impact has been slightly numbed but the influx and saturation of zombie/virus films churned out over recent years. Nevertheless, under Marc Forster’s direction WWZ is epic in scale with its sweeping scope and impressive special effects. Forster wisely focuses on Brad Pitt who is superb as ex UN official and family man Gerry Lane. Although the film may have benefited from an unknown actor for impact to Pitts credit he adds gravitas to the role as he journeys from one continent to another encountering perils and avoiding hordes of the twitching contaminated.The supporting cast give a solid backbone although no one stands out as being particularly memorable.
The reanimated are wonderfully well done, menacing and for the most part scary – especially in numbers. The limited makeup design on show is excellently crafted, although there’s explosions, fire fights the gore is limited and the film is not necessarily blatantly horrific as one would expect – this works both for and against depending on your expectations. That said, there’s enough action and tension to keep the causal viewer happy. For the harden zombie fans there’s atmosphere, finely executed visuals, memorably the immense birds eye views of the swarming population like ants and a calibre of realism not found in the majority of films this genre.
With a genuine on location feel and despite being reminiscent of 28 Days/Weeks later with fast infected Forster delivers a globe trotting disaster flick with less deliberate rough edges. The communication between the infected is interesting, including their dormant status.What also works at times is an old school horror approach, there’s lots of moments where the sound design leaves it to the viewers imagination.Notably though the editing and screenplay does pander to the masses, offering paint by numbers solutions and outcomes. For example the Israel (filmed in Malta) segment takes a little too long for Gerry to hone in on the noise leaving the viewer too much time to digest and anticipate what’s going to happen next which robs the scene of much of its intended impact and tension. Nevertheless, the Moscow heroic like ending was infamously  re-shot for a more quieter, personal closing and Gerry wife’s fidelity left intact, which in my mind works better, more true to his every man personality and the set up that came before.
All in all the apocalyptic vision is a solid, realistic and a heartfelt entry if somewhat too late to achieve greatness. Let’s hope for a sequel that surpasses this with Pitt on board again.