World War Z - International Trailer
United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop a pandemic that is threatening to decimate humanity itself.PT1M32S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2ng9a 620 349 May 31, 2013
Every year, as the financial stakes become higher and the predictions of box-office disaster more strident, the cinema's blockbuster season gets underway with one film marked for humiliating failure. In 2012 it was John Carter, Andrew Stanton's epic Martian adventure, and this year it is World War Z, the story of a global zombie apocalypse, starring Brad Pitt.
There's just one problem: the finished World War Z is a very good film.
''I suppose the good thing is that having got so much bad press … people go in to see it with low expectations,'' admits the movie's director, Marc Forster, with a hearty laugh. ''I really believed in the film and I believed that it was a good film. But I didn't know how the public or the press would respond because you just never know.''
Last hope: Brad Pitt shouldered the weight of public perception surrounding the delayed and prematurely maligned film.
The scrutiny of World War Z is not entirely without cause. The film kept only an outline of Max Brooks' 2006 bestseller, while shooting the adaptation proved to be expensive and difficult, with rumours - which Forster now dismisses - that a peeved Brad Pitt stopped talking to Forster and confirmed reports that the movie's final act was junked, with a new ending written and filmed as the release date was pushed back.
''Brad is written about a lot. If it was any other actor, the movie wouldn't have had such strong exposure before it was even finished,'' notes Forster, who was in Sydney for the movie's Australian premiere.
''To be honest the production went smoothly. Yes, it's a big movie with lots of elements, but we finished shooting at the exact amount of days I was given. The main thing we did was change the ending, which made everyone go, 'Oh, they're in trouble'.''
The revised finale, a tensely contained set-piece at a research facility, brings World War Z back to the intimate setting in which it begins, with former United Nations field investigator Gerry Lane (Pitt) and his wife and daughters being caught up in the global pandemic that has zombies running down their victims and infecting them in seconds.
''The final stuff was a huge battle sequence in Moscow that was really big and loud, and when I saw it I said to the studio, 'We need something personal and simple','' Forster says. ''Instead of spending all this money on trying to get the battle scene right, let's spend it on a really simple ending that connects with Brad's character.''
While the film still has epic, digitally composed scenes, such as swarms of zombies overrunning Philadelphia or besieging Jerusalem, making Pitt's Gerry Lane a concerned family man instead of a muscle-studded warrior provides an emotional spine that recalls the 43-year-old German-Swiss filmmaker's earlier works, including 2001's Monster's Ball and 2006's Stranger than Fiction, rather than his recent blockbusters, such as 2008's middling Bond outing, Quantum of Solace.
''Most of my other movies are more reflective and I feel like that is more me,'' Forster says. ''If you look at the usual blockbusters coming out of Hollywood, they have this final big ending and I felt like after the scenes in Israel, which are so big, we didn't need that any more. But studios are more afraid. They don't want to take risks and World War Z was a big risk.''
The insurance against risk is a movie star famous globally, of which Brad Pitt is one of the few remaining. Forster's movie comments on the fragility of society and the politics of catastrophe, but it's Pitt on the poster and in close-up, adding to the strength of his recent performances in The Tree of Life and Moneyball.
''Making Brad an Everyman was important, and I've always liked Three Days of the Condor, where Robert Redford was also a reluctant hero who fell into the plot,'' Forster says. ''To keep the film real was the most important thing - the more real the film is, the more frightening it will be for the audience.''
World War Z opens on Thursday.