Tag Archive: world war z


Back in 1975 Jaws became the highest grossing film to date. It’s arguably one of the most famous films ever that has been parodied and referenced in countless numbers of films and has a theme tune that everyone can hum and recognise. The release and the popularity of Jaws marked the arrival of the summer blockbuster, which would become a staple in the cinema calendar; the summer blockbuster spots are reserved for the biggest studios to bring out the big guns and rake in the profits over summer. The whole idea of a ‘blockbuster film’ has gone through celebration and survived criticism but you can not deny that they are still apparent and, as we have seen this year, are the most bankable films of the year. But the originality has gone, and with that so has some of the fun.

Among the top ten highest grossing films of the year so far there are eight films that have been released in the summer. Only one of those is an original concept: Pacific Rim. When Jaws was released it marked a trend of ‘event’ films that major studios released to compete with Jaws and its sequels. Taking this into account Pacific Rim seems like a typical summer blockbuster remade for a modern audience. It seems like everything a summer audience want: mindless action, giant robots fighting gigantic aliens and what’s more the film had major clout behind it as it was directed by Guillermo Del Toro. Pacific Rim only just managed to double its budget worldwide despite all the hype surrounding it and Idris Elba booming “today we are cancelling the apocalypse” before every other summer film that you would go and see. Of course, one reason why Pacific Rim could have fallen short of expectations is because Michael Bay did such an awful job with the Transformers film that any film with robots in will now be tossed aside without thought.

 

But then a film with fighting robots also became the fifth highest grossing film of all time: Iron Man 3. So this seems to suggest that that was not the only reason for Pacific Rim‘s failure to make a huge impression on the audience. In a world with so many sequels it is becoming more important to see those sequels when they come out, especially with what Marvel are doing with each film becoming a huge stable of cinema in itself and an unmissable event. People want to see what they already know because the first films are so good and successful that it gives a sequel credibility before it is even released. The likes of Star Trek Into Darkness, Fast and Furious 6, Monsters University and even Despicable Me 2 cracked the top ten highest grossing films – all coming off the back of successful franchises or original films. World War Z and Man of Steel also join the list but they’re coming from hugely successful books and comic books. With World War Z it also seems to suggest that star power is also important for a summer blockbuster with Brad Pitt no doubt being responsible for some of the surprisingly huge audience the zombie action film found.

So what of Will Smith, Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp? Three of the biggest movie stars on the planet absolutely tanked at the box office in 2013. Smith’s After Earth and Cruise’s Oblivion both seemed pretty similar in their basic premise: Earth has been abandoned and now Will Smith/Tom Cruise come back to Earth and find out that it’s not as bare as they might have thought. It was assumed that one film would take the spoils because they were too similar but as it turned out, neither film did and both failed. Johnny Depp looked to bring a new franchise to the big screen and should have been more successful being as though The Lone Ranger is integrated in popular culture – everyone has heard “Hi-Yo, Silver!” at least once in their lives. But a difficult time in production seemed to put an end to any plans Disney had of making a sequel. And the less said about R.I.P.D the better.

 

Another one of the most anticipated films of the year was Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium. After Blomkamp’s debut feature District 9 was an Oscar nominated film people were expecting something exceptional from Elysium, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. However, as of now it has only just managed to make back its budget and not set the world alight as people expected. Of course, a late summer release won’t have helped being as though it seems everyone had already spent their money on previously mentioned films. So why is it so hard to find a spot for originality in the summer months?

For me, I think it comes down to the cost of going to the cinema. Over summer the children are off school and people go to the cinema as a family. This means that you’re going to be spending around £25-£35 on tickets and then another £20ish on drinks and popcorn which makes it seem pretty expensive just to go and sit down for a couple of hours. Nobody wants to go and see a bad film at the cinema anyway but when it’s costing that much you want to know that you’re going to enjoy what you watch. Therefore, I believe people are more likely to go and see Iron Man 3 when Marvel have a spotless record and you’re guaranteed a great performance from Robert Downey Jr. rather than take a chance that something like R.I.P.D or Pacific Rim which you don’t know much about.

 

In the next couple of years we are going to see more Marvel films – Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014, The Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015. The Man of Steel sequel featuring Batman is coming out too, the same as the seventh chapter of Star Wars and presumably a third in the new Star Trek trilogy: add to that another Fast & Furious film, a sequel to World War Z and X-Men: Days of Future Past. It seems like so many huge franchises are begging for people’s money that it seems impossible for anything new to turn heads. For the sake of cinema that has to change sooner rather than later.

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Slated for an October release in the UK, Seventh Son becomes the latest book series to be adapted into a film. However, you will probably not recognise the name of Joseph Delaney or his series The Wardstone Chronicles. This series of books is not as famous as the Harry Potter series, Twilight or even Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider saga, so it may be a bit of a risk choosing to adapt these books (for more than just this one reason which I will go into later). Even with a best seller you’re not guaranteed success, the failure of Stormbreaker put to bed any ideas that Point Blanc or the other Alex Rider stories may get the big film treatment no matter how much I hope and pray for it to happen… anyway, tangent ended, back to Seventh Son. Here’s the trailer:

Set in the 18th Century, the story revolves around young Thomas (Ben Barnes of Prince Caspian fame), the seventh son of a seventh son which in this world grants Tom with the ability to see things that others can not: boggarts, ghosts and other fantasy beings. Tom finds himself apprenticed to the local Spook (Jeff Bridges) to learn to fight against the evil spirits. His first great challenge comes when the powerful Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) escapes her confinement while the Spook is away.

As you can see, in the trailer you get the carefully worded “inspired by the acclaimed series” rather than “based on…” which suggests Seventh Son is not going to be a straight adaptation. Although this decision has already angered some fans (but you always get the few who can’t stand to see any change to source material), I believe this is actually a smart choice: The Wardstone Chronicles does not carry the same fan base other book series’ do so this is an attempt to appeal to a wider audience. The story of a boy being trained in his craft has been done (Harry Potter, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Percy Jackson) and to attempt to place another origin story into a saturated market would make no sense at all, therefore, taking elements from other books in the series as well will help speed along the story. Hopefully it won’t be a case of too many ingredients just thrown in with no time given to story or character development.

The Wardstone Chronicles

The other promising factor for Seventh Son is the acting talent attached to the project. Of course, Ben Barnes is relatively new but making steady progress in his career, however he is supported by Oscar winner Jeff Bridges, four time Oscar nominee Julianne Moore and two time Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou just for good measure. The director is Sergei Bodrov who is a Russian filmmaker who has twice had his features nominated for Best Foreign Language Film (Prisoner of the Mountains, Mongol: The Rise to Power of Genghis Khan). At one time Jennifer Lawrence was also attached to star, meaning that the script must have some merit to it. Now this is not to say that I think Seventh Son is going to clean up at the Oscars, far from it, but I do believe that with this talent on board there is definitely potential and it has more chance of being a good film than a bad one.

So it’s based on an acclaimed book series, has huge talent starring and directing, the trailer is action packed and exciting. So why would it be a surprise hit? Well first of all: it’s fantasy. And unless you happen to be bringing out a new Harry Potter film or The Hobbit then fantasy is a no go genre, that’s been proven time and time again. The trailer brings back memories to me of Black Death and Solomon Kane, two films I actually very much enjoyed but both fared poorly at the box office and with critics; when making fantasy you have to KNOW you have a hit, otherwise it’s all been a waste of time.

Other problems involve the dreaded moving of the release date. While it doesn’t sound like much the moving of a release date can be a sure fire signifier of a flop. In this case Seventh Son has been pushed back all the way from February this year to January next in the USA, I’m still skeptic that we’ll even get it in October in the UK. This move has been due to post production needing finishing, the same reason that The Lone Ranger is currently flopping on it’s stomach in the States (one of MANY reasons if early reviews are to be believed). This is not always the case, The Great Gatsby became a hit despite the moving of that release date but that has Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role, Seventh Son does not.

Problems continue when you look further below the surface and see that the script has gone through a couple of rewrites. Again, never a good thing as when a script gets re-written you can see that the film has been dragged in several different directions by people who come on board with a separate view for the story and no respect for the work done by their predecessor (the most recent example of this being World War Z where the ending was rehashed). Even worse, Rhythm and Hues Studios who provide the visual effects for Seventh Son actually went bankrupt while working on the film; Legendary Pictures agreed to give $5million to the company to help them finish their work so this may or may not have hindered the project.

As you can see, Seventh Son is not without it’s problems. But upon it’s release people won’t be looking behind the screen at the difficulties the film has had getting there; they will be looking at the quality that is being presented to them. Ever since I first heard about this film I have been silently excited; the story, the genre and the theme is right up my street and something of a geeky pleasure for myself. I have been excited by the trailer and think that there is clearly plenty of potential here. To release on a quieter week in summer may have been a risk but it is one that could have paid off. Now, however, I can only see this being a flop and it pains me so much to say that.

After a highly publicised problematic time in production which included delays to the release date, location changes, problems with the Hungarian government and new writers being hired to rewrite the ending, World War Z has finally been released in cinemas.

World War Z is a globe trotting apocalyptic action adventure about the human race’s battle for survival against the fast spreading disease turning people to zombies. At the centre of this ‘war’ is Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), a former UN investigator who is forced to return to his old job to help locate the source and a cure for the disease in exchange for the safety of his family. Lane’s journey takes him all around the world, from South Korea to Israel and eventually to Wales where he hopes that he can find a way to prevent the disease from spreading any more than it already has done.

The film opens with a brief introduction to Gerry and his family life, his wife and two daughters providing the emotional attachment to the central character who identifies with the audience as this sympathetic family man. And about ten minutes later World War Z erupts with excitement and begins to roll at breakneck pace with the attack on Philadelphia setting the bar very high as the, albeit poorly CGI’ed, zombies launch a full scale attack and Marshall law is enforced. The Lanes manage to escape to an apartment block, where Pitt gets to excel in a more action oriented role and takes out several more zombies, before they are saved. And Pitt is eventually landed with the mission of saving the world.

So with the world’s hope weighing heavy upon his shoulders Pitt takes the journey to South Korea and things show no signs of slowing down. As soon as they step off the plane zombies arrive and death follows closely behind. Inside the safe haven Pitt receives information from a random prisoner who seems to have no purpose other than to make sure Pitt ends up going to Jerusalem (pretty convenient that he was there really). This prisoner also offers a really clever but subtle insight into how other countries are dealing with the epidemic: North Korea have extracted the teeth of all of its civilians to stop the disease spreading through bites.

In Jerusalem the battle wages on and on and here is where Pitt teams up with an annoyingly trigger happy Russian soldier played by Daniella Kertesz. The action here in Jerusalem is really exciting and the pace of World War Z never seems to let up even for a minute throughout the first hour. However, once on the plane (a really really fantastic scene somewhat ruined by the fact that it is in ALL of the trailers) the film seems to take a twist of direction and the pace slows and an attempt to inject some real drama replaces it; the only other signs of drama coming from Pitt’s on screen wife holding a telephone and hugging her children.

 

On the plane you get this sort of “previously on World War Z” segment where you are shown once more the bits that you thought were unimportant from the first half of the film and why they are important now, as Pitt cleverly pieces together the clues as they land in Wales (of all places) to put an end to the spreading of the zombie disease.

The final act which takes place in Wales is not at all bad, but it slows the pace so much that it seems a far cry from the beginning of World War Z. Here, suspense is built and the film begins to seem like it is being character driven rather than action driven with Pitt becoming a much more engaging character at the end that he has been before. There are some places in which it seems like the zombies don’t really pose a serious threat but these are made up for with some great fight scenes throughout and a genuine fear portrayed by other cast members.

There seems to be a growing argument around the internet that Damon Lindelof can not write a good ending. And with the climax quickly tied up in a not too neat monologue delivered by Pitt there seems to be more ammunition to fire at the writer. With a really entertaining first half, a slightly weaker but still engaging second half it is more than worth the poor ending. Brad Pitt’s proves that he alone can still be a box office draw and, even at fifty years old, the world is still a safe place in his hands.

 

My Rating: 7/10.

Deciding what films to see this month is going to be one tough task. With big blockbusters being released as well as lower budget story heavy features. There’s something for everyone to go and see in June.
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The Stone Roses: Made of Stone – 5th June

Shane Meadows’ documentary about the Manchester rock band is a must see for any fan!
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After Earth – 7th June

I remain unconvinced by this but Will Smith guarantees box office success whether the film is good or not.
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The Iceman – 7th June

The first of two Michael Shannon films released this month; praise has already been high for his performance here as Richard Kuklinski.
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Man of Steel – 14th June

And Michael Shannon plays the villain in Warner Bros. latest attempt to reboot arguably the most boring superhero ever created. Guaranteed box office smash and looks to be the Superman film people have been crying out for.
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Much Ado About Nothing – 14th June

If like me, you are a fan of Marvel and Shakespeare (I appreciate that isn’t a cross section many people anticipate) then Joss Whedon’s take on the famous Shakespeare play is a must see. With Clark Gregg and Nathan Fillion this is the modern sci-fi fan’s biggest wet dream.
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World War Z – 21st June

All the hype so far has been about the poor CGI and uninteresting posters. It’ll be interesting to see if Brad Pitt still has box office appeal – I’m not so sure.
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Despicable Me 2 – 28th June

If you’ve been to the cinema a lot lately you’re probably sick of seeing the teasers for this film, but you have to admit, it does look pretty good. And everyone loves those little minions!
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This is the End – 28th June

James Franco. Seth Rogen. Emma Watson. Jonah Hill. That guy from Pineapple Express and Hot Tub Time Machine. The funny one from Parks and Recreation. Milky Way. I want to see this.

UK Release Date: 21st June 2013.

Stars: Marc Forster (director), Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, David Morse, James Badge Dale, Eric West, Matthew Fox.

Plot: United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to decimate humanity itself.

I don’t normally post new trailers for films that I have already looked at unless I am desperately excited to see a certain film. That’s not the case with World War Z. The reason I have decided to look at this trailer after examining the first here, is that the originally trailer was met with a lot of skepticism surrounding its faith to the original novel and the bad CGI. So is this new trailer any better?

Well the way the trailer is set up it seems to be the same before. A peaceful little section of Pitt’s nice, loving family is then broken up by lots of scenes of panic and the mountain of zombies. What I can deduce from this trailer is that it seems like the CGI on the zombies won’t be TOO important because there will be so many jump cuts flying around you’ll barely see them, especially behind the explosions.

The books is a best seller and people love it because it’s not just a brainless zombie epic, which unfortunately it looks as though the film will be. But studio execs need to put bums on chairs (and maybe Brad Pitt’s name alone isn’t enough to do that anymore?).

World War Z comes complete with mid-air plane siege as seen in The Dark Knight Rises and Iron Man 3.

UK Release Date: 21st June 2013.

Stars: Marc Forster (director), Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, Matthew Fox, Eric West, David Morse.

Plot: A U.N. employee is racing against time and fate, as he travels the world trying to stop the outbreak of a deadly Zombie pandemic.

With the success of The Walking Dead bringing zombies back to the forefront of mainstream television it should come as no surprise that Hollywood is looking to take advantage and make some money from the zombie industry. World War Z has been in the works for a long time and finally we have a trailer.

There has already been a lot of negative reaction to the trailer from fans of the original book on the internet but I think that it actually looks pretty good. I like Brad Pitt and I’m sure he will do a fine job in this film. World War Z (the film, not the book) is essentially an apocalyptic-save-the-world type thing and, as far as the trailer goes it will certainly grab the attention of audiences.

The CGI is not yet fully polished and we don’t really see enough of the zombies to gauge whether they look good or not, but I have no doubts that everything will be sharpened before it’s release date in another six months. I think that the fans of the book need to stop moaning and just accept that certain themes/characters/story lines from novels always get dropped when Hollywood wants to make a film from it, that’s just how it works.

UK Release Date: 21st September 2012.

Stars: Andrew Dominik (director), Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, James Gandolfini.

Plot: Jackie Cogan is a professional enforcer who investigates a heist that went down during a mob-protected poker game.

This is the trailer for Brad Pitt’s latest film and with all the attention seeming to be on his other upcoming film World War Z, Killing Them Softly has gone under the radar but this is a trailer that will surely up the interest in this crime thriller.

The role of Jackie Cogan, which Brad Pitt is playing, seems to be sort of similar in the way he is portrayed to Tyler Durden, who Pitt of course played in the brilliant Fight Club, which is a good sign because it seems to be when Pitt is at his best; another similar role I thought was his character in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. The remainder of the cast is a very good mix with the experienced Ray Liotta and Richard Jenkins mixing in with the brilliant younger actor Scoot McNairy of Monsters fame.

The trailer looks great, it builds up the character of Jackie Cogan and lets us know that this is not a guy to be messed with. Both crime and thriller element of the film are put across well in the trailer and you get the feeling that this will be a film that surprises and impresses you with its action and story.  The trailer doesn’t let much of the storyline out but that’s not a bad thing; it’s not going to be very thrilling when we watch the full piece if we already know what happens.

Also, I can’t wait to hear Brad Pitt say the line “I like to kill them softly” when I watch Killing Them Softly.