Last week, Brad Pitt and director Marc Forster screened 20 minutes of their new film, World War Z, on the Paramount lot in Hollywood. Pitt introduced the clips, which included an early look at the second trailer, saying he wanted to make a film his “boys could watch while they were still young.” Hopefully, his boys don’t scare easily, because while the PG-13 World War Z is light on gore, it’s swarming with zombies who crush barricades and flip cars with the mass hunger of ants at a human picnic.
The first clip shown was the extended car scene teased in World War Z‘s first trailer. Pitt is behind the wheel of the family car next to wife Mireille Enos (The Killing) with their two daughters in the back seat, when radio reports of a rabies outbreak become violently real.
The scene escalates: first, there’s a broken rearview mirror, then a distant explosion, then a fatal hit-and-run. Pitt is the first motorist to realize the need for escape, and he exploits the situation like a panicked action hero. The tone feels like Forster is trying to pay homage to Steven Spielberg’s classic Tom-Cruise-in-traffic tracking shot from War of the Worlds, but without actually laboring to shoot the whole thing in a single take.
Near the end of the scene, we see our first zombie transformation. What’s striking is the speed: almost immediate. According to Forster, it only takes 12 seconds – though he also implied that the zombie virus may mutate as it evolves, reducing the change to as little as 8 seconds. The action-packed trailers have made the undead look like 28 Days Later-style zombies, but they don’t appear to have super-speed. Rather, they run like a human in a full sprint: they’re reckless and overwhelming, but not genetically superior to the living.
“No, no, they don’t have any superpowers,” insisted Forster during the Q&A. “When the feeding frenzy starts, they just run, but not faster than any human being.”
There’s a scene that sets up Pitt’s role in the film as the government, who has shuttled him and his family to a quarantined military boat, tells him the scope of the crisis and insists that he leave his wife and kids to investigate the source of the outbreak. If he refuses the job, they’ll all be shipped back to the mainland to survive on their own…
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