The Film Formula: World War Z
We discover the different elements behind Brad Pitt’s zombie apocalypse movie
The Film Formula is our new series aimed at boiling down big releases to their most basic elements. This time round, it’s World War Z.
One of the comparisons applied to one of World War Z’s initial scripts (by Ain’t It Cool, among others) was to dramatic thriller Children of Men. Like Pitt’s character Gerry Lane in WWZ, Theo (Clive Owen) is tasked with helping end a worldwide threat to humanity – except in this case, it’s the fact that no babies have been born for nearly two decades rather than having hordes of the undead running about.
The other flaw in this comparison is that Theo is a washed up loner with very few emotional ties, while Gerry is motivated to endure hardship in foreign lands by fear for the safety of his loved ones – much like Richard Jones, a character in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Babel, whose holiday in Morocco turns sour when his wife (Cate Blanchett) is shot. It doesn’t hurt the comparison that Jones was also played by Pitt.
Back to the zombies though, and it’s worth noting that these zombies are the fast-running, extremely angry kind showcased by Danny Boyle in 28 Days Later (as opposed to the classic shamblers favoured by George Romero). Boyle’s influence is also felt in the choice of setting – he let Glasgow stand in for Edinburgh for a good deal of the scenes in Trainspotting, while WWZ recasts Glasgow as the great city of Philadelphia (eagle-eyed viewers can pick out the red surface of George Square in the trailer).
WWZ ditches Glesgadelphia pretty quickly in favour of some globe-hopping find-the-cure antics – a trait that also lies at the root of Steven Soderbegh’s medical thriller Contagion. Like that film, WWZ goes looking for its patient zero in continental Asia – you’ll have to wait until the film’s release on Fri 22 Jun to find out if he succeeds.