Will Brad Pitt’s World War Z Be Any Good?

Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 9 2012 9:16 AM

Trailer Critic: World War Z

worldwarz2
Brad Pitt pursued by zombies in the trailer for World War Z

People who have been closely following the production of World War Z, the Brad Pitt-led adaptation of a beloved book by Max Brooks (son of Mel), have many questions. Why has it taken so long? Why so many script rewrites? Will the movie preserve any of the structural daring that Brooks, partly inspired by Studs Terkel, showed in his novel (its subtitle: “An Oral History of the Zombie War”)? 

Having not followed the production all that closely, I have one main question after watching the trailer below. Are these the fastest zombies ever?

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Fast zombies have been with us a while now, but these rapidly massing piles of limbs are something else. The movie’s visual effects supervisor, John Nelson, told Entertainment Weekly that he and his crew studied animals. The zombies they created, he says, “move like birds or school of fish.” “They lock in and they’re like salmon going upstream or sperm swimming to be the first to the egg.”

Which is a pretty good description of what we see here. And while that may be mostly a technical achievement, it bodes well for the conceptual thoughtfulness of the movie: Imagining the zombies as an animalistic virus is true to the spirit of the book, which is largely about political and social disaster preparedness. (The zombies in the book are slow.) And that shot of the U.S. constitution being marched out of a building by soldiers, while just a tad heavy-handed, suggests that those political themes may be preserved, even if most of the trailer looks like a standard Hollywood apocalypse.

And seriously, look at those zombies run! Freaky! World War Z comes out next June.

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.

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