By Sharon Pisani (Lija, Malta)


World War Z: Zombies Live On (The Big Screen)

In this much-awaited zombie apocalypse movie adaptation, we follow Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), an ex-UN official, as he flies around the world, from Philadelphia to South Korea, to Jerusalem, and to Wales. Like all plots in pandemic virus-related movies, this one revolves around the main character trying to find a cure for the zombie pandemic. So far, not so original.

But you know you’re in for a thrill ride when the opening credits are accompanied by Muse. The initial credits did a wonderful job in setting the mood for this apocalyptic film. No time is wasted, as in the first ten minutes the apparently normal lives of the Lane family and other Philadelphian residents are turned upside down by the infected. Fortunately, Gerry has friends in high places, and he is assured safety for all his family…as long as he accompanies an inexperienced, just graduating medical in trying to find the cure for this virus.

The ending we see in the cinema is not the original one. With Brad Pitt producing, his wish to stay as loyal as possible to the book which the movie is based on – Max Brooks’ 2006 novel – was deemed impossible during post-production, and the whole third act had to be shot from scratch, diffusing the action from what was to be Russian zombie slaying to more timid action scenes in a WHO facility in Wales. Inevitably, this raised the budget of the movie to a whopping $200million, but with the smashing opening weekend it achieved, Pitt’s production company will face no loss.

While all gore-loving, zombie-killing fanatics might have liked the original ending better, the final ending works well when contrasted with the other war scenes in the film. The ending we now have shows more of the zombies’ nature than the other scenes where we mostly see zombies jumping and hurtling themselves from one place to the other. The last part of the film is surely the most thrilling part, as the characters have to meet face-to-face with zombies while trapped inside so as to be able to work on a cure. By all means, this ending proves to be a solid basis for the upcoming sequel, which was announced earlier this week.

I come from Malta and of immense interest to all Maltese viewers is the part set in Israel, which Malta had doubled as, in the summer of 2011. Though the Israel scenes do not encompass a huge part of the film, the part is both crucial to the plot as well as enjoyable, and Maltese audiences are sure to spot scenes filmed in the capital city Valletta, as well as Zammit Clapp Hospital and other locations in the south of Malta.

The delay from the December 2012 release was essential for the editing stage, and the new June 2013 release date makes this film a summer blockbuster everyone has to see. Although the 3D and cinematic effects are not of great wonder, the zombies, especially in the latter part of the movie, become stars on their own and are a must-see.

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