Unravelling the undead

Tags: Films

What’s Brad Pitt doing in a zombie movie? Well, he’s busy fighting the ghouls that will destory the world

Unravelling the undead
Brad Pitt takes on the zombies in the upcoming apocalyptic thriller World War Z. Directed by Marc Forster, the film is based on a novel of the same name by Max Brooks and stars Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale and Matthew Fox. Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment secured the rights to the novel in 2007 after a bidding war with Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company Appian Way. Shot in Malta, Glasgow, Cornwall and Budapest, the film will be released by Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions in RealD 3D and IMAX 3D.

What are the zombies, done to death in innumerable films till now, up to? They’re hard at work! A zombie pandemic is traversing the globe, decimating people, and it’s up to United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Pitt) to figure out how to put a stop to the apocalypse (referred to as World War Z). He takes cognisance of an American soldier (Dale) who “tries to warn the government that the threat of zombies is real” and sets out for the task of a lifetime.

Lane travels the world, interviewing survivors of the horrifying catastrophe, coming to terms with the fact that the world is sitting on a ticking time bomb — the zombies are defeating armies, collapsing governments and annihilating the world systematically. Can he fill in the blanks and put together the information to stem the outbreak that’s bringing down nations? And will he be able to keep his wife (Enos) and two children out of harm’s way?

Brooks put together his sci-fi novel as a “series of oral histories” by the survivors in the manner of straight and scary reportage from across the world. J Michael Straczynski, who wrote the story along with Matthew Michael Carnahan, had said the main challenge was to “create a main character out of a book that reads as a UN Report on the zombie wars”.

Brooks, meanwhile, doesn’t seem too happy with the way the movie has turned out. He was apparently invited to read the script “after the cameras were rolling”, and has said that his novel shares the same title as the movie “and that's it”.

German-Swiss film-maker Marc Forster, who has Monsters Ball, Finding Neverland and Quantum of Solace in his kitty, has described World War Z as “reminiscent of 1970s conspiracy thrillers like All the President's Men”. Forster and Paramount Pictures have said they conceived World War Z as a “trilogy with the gun-metal realism of Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne series tethered to the unsettling end-times vibe of AMC’s The Walking Dead”.

But Pitt’s zombie epic has been surrounded by a lot of negative hype in recent days – a ballooning budget, rewrites, reshoots and delayed release haven’t helped. The actor had visualised a zombie film with a geopolitical flavour, a film that would redefine the genre. Is this it? Pitt’s last outing as both producer and star was 2011’s Moneyball, which garnered him an Academy Award nomination.

Compare that to World War Z – it’s one of the most expensive zombie movies made and reportedly needs to gross $400 million worldwide to cover costs. Can it do that? Industry insiders think not.

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