World War Z Review and Blu-ray Features
World War Z
21 June 2013
Interview with Director
IAR: To begin with, I understand that the book the film is based on is quite different than the movie. What excited you about the basic premise and what were some of the aspects of the story that you felt you needed to change in order to adapt it for the big screen?
Marc Forster: The book is really great. I really enjoyed it, I loved reading it and that is obviously why I wanted to make this film. The thing is, the focus of the book is not your typical narrative. It’s 54 short little stories telling people how to fight zombie wars so when we approached adapting it, it was always the intent that I wanted to have a straight narrative structure and create a companion piece to the book versus trying to adapt the book because to make a film out of the book would have been a very different approach and almost impossible even if you tried to attempt that.
You’ve made several films in the past that were adapted from other material, such as the novel adaption – The Kite Runner, the based on a true story movie- Machine Gun Preacher, and the James Bond sequel – Quantum of Solace. Do you find it difficult to adapt other material into a film
Forster: I did The Kite Runner and in regards to that I stuck very close to the book because the book lends itself very easy to a cinematic structure and that worked really well. But in regards to World War Z I think it was important for me to have an explorative narrative from the protagonist’s point of view. At that time I felt that it was important for me to use a 3-act structure so we can connect with the character and we can describe the world out of his perspective.
What was your process working with the writers? Did you develop the script with them, or leave them alone to write it and then make adjustments once they turned in their drafts?
Forster: No, we were pretty much working side by side for a long time, developing it, discussing it and looking at different scenarios.
The film unfortunately got a lot of bad press during production before it was even released. As a filmmaker, when something like that happens how do you handle it? Did you just have to continue to make the movie that you wanted to make and ignore all of the unexpected criticism?
Forster: You know, it puts a lot of pressure on you, but I just always believed in the movie. I just felt this movie was going to work and I was so surprised people writing so much about it and nobody had even seen the movie. How could people come to these assumptions and conclusions when they haven’t even seen it? It’s almost like they wanted this movie to fail. So being under that kind of pressure was very difficult.
Why do you think the film was under so much scrutiny? Is it because the book was so popular, or do you think it’s because your star and producer Brad Pitt has a target on his back for attention from the press?
Forster: I don’t know? It seems like obviously Brad has always been in the center of a lot of press attention and maybe it comes from that. I don’t know where it came from. I don’t think it came from the popularity of the book. I think it’s just different factors, but it was very stressful.
Since we are already on the subject of Brad Pitt, what was your experience like working with him on this project both as an actor and a producer?
Forster: It’s pretty amazing. He’s an iconic actor. He was a great collaborator. I really enjoyed how he handles being an actor on the set, working with the director, and listening. On the other hand once the cameras start rolling he puts on his producer’s hat and he’s able to do both. It’s very impressive
From your view as a director, can you talk about his process as an actor?
Forster: He always comes from a character’s point of view and from a very human point of view. That’s where I come from always. It always starts with the character. I always imagined or envisioned with this character that he was sort of an everyday man, and that’s what he and I were both trying to go for. If you are playing the everyday man, than everybody can emotionally connect with you and you can build from that as a platform. You build a structure and we both work in a very similar way like that. He likes things to be underplayed as well as do I. A lot of his performance is in quiet moments that are internalized and not all filled out. If you use exposition, than exposition is used very carefully and very subtly that you don’t just fill it all out. There’s always a mystery in the character, which keeps you invested in him
Were you a fan of the zombie genre to begin with, and what did you want to do differently with this film?
Forster: I always was a huge fan of the genre because I feel like the genre always was a great metaphor for what was happening in our society at the time going all the way back to a George Romero films and recently as well. I feel like it’s a great inside look at our society. I think there’s no better metaphor in cinema than zombies in that sense. Luckily we can make a film about a global apocalypse at the same time with a back dropping of social commentary. If you’re doing a blockbuster, that’s very hard to come by, to have that backdrop of foreign social commentary while making an independent entertainment.
Can you talk about creating the zombies for this movie and what you wanted them to look like?
Forster: Early on I had this image in my mind of this tsunami of zombies and I felt like the key to that was nature. As a kid I liked birds and fish. I felt like there’s nothing more frightening than this image of a wave of humans coming at you and then crawling on top of each other. I thought that because zombies are mindless creature that this idea just created a powerful image and I got excited about that. But we had to make sure they moved differently. So they’re snapping on screen, and even their teeth are chattering. Every little detail was designed in regards to their eyes because eyes are the windows to your soul, which needed to be gone since zombies have no souls. We built the movement and the look step-by-step ending up in that tsunami image of them crawling on the wall.
Zombies used to be depicted in films as slow, but recently they have started to be portrayed faster. How do you prefer your zombies, slow or fast?
Forster: In the film I like them fast and more threatening, but at the same time if there’s no stimulation, I like them slow. I like watching how they just meander around. It’s like a shark smelling blood, once they smell blood, they twitch and the feeding frenzy starts. That’s what excites me because once that starts there’s more threat of danger.
Finally, there have been some rumors about a possible sequel, is that something you would be interested in returning to direct?
Forster: You know, I’m not sure yet. I like to always do different things. But I’m keeping all the balls in the air.
RT/Meta Critic Review
As both thrilling spectacle and escapist summer entertainment, World War Z is enormously effective, with Brad Pitt at the center hopscotching the globe in search of the origin of a zombie apocalypse. (Click here to see)
World War Z is a string of unrelenting, harrowing sequences that continually manage to top one another.(Click here to see)
World War Z isn’t exactly the standard-bearer for bright, well-defined, sharp, and eye-catching visuals. That’s not to say it’s ugly or looks bad, it’s just not a movie made with visual flash, pizazz, or sharp clarity and bold colors in mind. Paramount’s transfer handles the film’s brighter, most colorfully diverse scenes nicely, but there are just as many, if not more, that look rather dreary and drab. The film opens inside the Lane household to fairly pasty, nondescript visuals. It’s stable and clear, just not in any way visually arresting. Many subsequent scenes throughout the movie share the same sort of qualities. It’s a fairly flat image, generally, and doesn’t find much in the way of noticeably sharp and clean visuals until the start of the second act. In Israel, the film finds its most even footing and its sharpest moments. The third act drifts towards a colder feel inside the rather sterile, blue-and-white heavy backdrop. This is all more of a reflection of the film’s intended appearance rather than a bland Blu-ray. Just don’t buy World War Z for flashy visuals and the results should impress in context.
World War Z explodes onto Blu-ray with a fantastic DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 lossless soundtrack. It’s excellent from the moment the sound rises in sync with the Paramount stars shooting towards the mountain. It’s big and serious with a potent low end element that never overwhelms but instead captures a deep, penetrating essence. Musical notes are faultlessly spread about the stage, yielding natural placement and superb clarity with just the right balance of surround support. The track handles its supportive effects wonderfully, whether light background sounds of traffic and overhead helicopters at the beginning or the sheer immersive chaos of a city overrun by zombies later on. The track is dynamically involved and faultlessly clear and robust through every moment and in its delivery of each unique sound. Gunfire pops with pleasing authority and presence, while explosions feature the sort of pinpoint heft and stage presence that’s only heard on the best tracks. Dialogue clarity and placement are accurate throughout. This is an excellent lossless soundtrack, just the sort one would expect to accompany a huge Action blockbuster title.
World War Z‘s extended cut 2D-only Blu-ray contains a limited assortment of supplements, headlined by a four-part making-of featurette.
- Origins (HD, 8:21): A look at the journey of the film’s production, beginning with the book’s release in 2006 and moving on to cover the book’s structure and scope, translating it into a viable film project, and the process of assembling the cast and crew and the qualities the majors brought to the film.
- Looking to Science (HD, 7:28): An examination of how real-world scientific truths and analysis were used to enhance the film. The piece also briefly looks at the appeal of zombies and Zombie films.
- WWZ: Production (HD): A four-part Documentary that analyzes the making of the film. It begins withOutbreak (8:31), a detailed look at the making of the film’s opening sequence. The Journey Begins (8:39) focuses on building several of the visual effects and shooting the scenes that end the first act and play through part of the second. Next is Behind the Wall (9:41), a thorough examination of making the extended Israel action sequence. Finally, Camouflage (9:25) guides viewers through the making of the film’s extended airliner sequence and third act elements.
- Digital Copies: UV and downloadable copies are included. However, the included code is only good for redeeming one or the other, not both.