URGENCY solves all your screenplay’s ills!

Genre: Zombie/Horror/Thriller/Action
Premise: (from IMDB) 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 destroy humanity itself.
About: World War Z, the movie, has had its own apocalypse leading up to its release. Its well-publicized awful third act (which forced the studio to rewrite and reshoot the whole thing) steered buzz on the film towards Death Valley. Things didn’t exactly get better when geek screenwriting whipping boy Damon Lindelof came on to “save” the movie. But just like a zombie, the film came back from the dead and started building positive word-of-mouth with strategic early screenings and that cleaned up ending. Projected by much of Hollywood to bomb, the film made $66 million this weekend, 16 million more than the studio’s best case scenario. It looks like all aspects of World War Z got an improved ending.
Writers: Matthew Michael Carnahan and Drew Goddard & Damon Lindelof (story by Matthew Michael Carnahan and J. Michael Straczynski) (based on the novel by Max Brooks)
Details: 116 minutes

Screen-Shot-2013-05-23-at-3.06.49-PM

I’m not sure why everyone thought this was going to flop. The trailers looked awesome. It had Brad Pitt in it. What else do you need to get butts in seats?

I actually read an early draft of this script a long time ago and there were textbook problems with it that needed changing if this movie was going to have a shot. They made those changes (nailed them, in fact) and voila, we have a MUCH BETTER script and therefore a MUCH BETTER movie.

World War Z follows United Nations agent Gerry Lane as he and his family (wife and two daughters) are beginning their day. As they’re driving through the city, chaos erupts, with crazed possessed people attacking and killing everyone in sight. Those victims then turn into attackers as well, creating an exponential path of destruction.

In a harrowing opening 20 minutes, Gerry leads his family to safety and eventually to an extraction point where the government picks them up. They head to the only safe area on the planet, military boats in the middle of the sea, and everyone starts trying to find out what’s going on.

What’s going on is a particularly lethal strain of zombie. One that’s making quick work of the planet. If they don’t do something soon, these boats may be their final destination. Just like any plague, if you find out the source (Patient 0), you have a chance of coming up with a vaccine. Because Gerry’s job is to go into dangerous places and get answers, he’s a natural fit to go searching for this patient.

Problem is, every country is being overrun by zombies. So it’s sort of like sending a tree into a field of chainsaws. The chances of making it out with all your bark in tact isn’t very good. Gerry starts his investigation in South Korea, which experienced the worst of the attacks. Clues there eventually lead him to Israel, which somehow knew to build a zombie wall before the zombie outbreak even began. These guys were onto something and Gerry wants to know what.

While there, however, our clever (and quite energetic) zombies, figure out a way to scale the walls and overrun the city, forcing Gerry to make a harrowing escape on a passenger plane. That plane eventually leads him to a World Health Organization center where Gerry uses the clues he’s gathered to (spoiler) come up with a vaccine.

Okay, are you guys ready for today’s big screenwriting lesson?

URGENCY!!!

This script proves how important urgency is to a story. Why do I say that? Because I have the old script to compare it to.

In that version, the script tried to stay true to the novel. The novel was more about the AFTERMATH of the zombie outbreak. It took a “Post-Hurricane Katrina” approach to things, with Gerry trying to find who was to blame for the outbreak rather than Patient 0.

That’s fine for a book. But shit like that don’t fly in movies. In a movie, you need urgency. I’m surprised they didn’t figure this out right away – that they paid a writer to write a draft that had no hope of pleasing audiences. But someone finally got it right. They realized that telling everything in flashbacks and having Pitt strolling around countries leisurely without a single immediate threat didn’t lend itself to an exciting flick.

The brilliance of World War Z, the movie, is that it never slows down. Outside of the opening scenes establishing the family together, once the zombies hit, they never stop hitting. And for that reason, Gerry had to do his investigation WITH THE THREAT OF BEING KILLED AT ANY MOMENT as opposed to the threat of getting a paper cut at any moment. And everywhere he went, the zombie threat was right behind him. I know some people don’t like fast zombies, but they multiplied the urgency in this case a thousand fold and really made things exciting.

The best example of this was in Israel. We saw these zombies clamoring to get inside the country and we knew it was only a matter of time before they did. So when Pitt’s investigating, he doesn’t have time to hop around the country meeting numerous people and getting detailed rundowns. He talks to one dude before the zombies scale the wall and he’s running for his life.

World War Z is actually the prototypical GSU script. You have the Goal (find Patient Zero so you can create a vaccine), the stakes (Gerry being reunited with his family AS WELL AS the fate of the human race) and the urgency (zombies always on their tail).

Speaking of, that was another great change Damon Lindelof and Drew Goddard made. They actually suggested going back and adding the family scenes at the beginning of the movie, as well as another phone call between Gerry and his wife during the second act. They wanted more stuff between the family. They know that GSU doesn’t work unless the audience CARES ABOUT THE CHARACTERS and WANTS THEM TO REUNITE.

One of the best ways to create that caring is to create a family unit, a pair (or a group) of people who we want to see reunited. You do this by showing the family together, show how much they care for each other, then rip them apart. If Gerry is ONLY trying to save the world here, this movie doesn’t work. It’s that we want to see him back together with his family that keeps us so invested.

As for the ending, I don’t know what they changed the script from, but you can tell where the split happened. Clearly, that plane was going somewhere else in the old film. Now the plane crashes and Gerry comically walks over to the World Health Organization, which just happens to be a pleasant 5 minute walk form the crash site.

But once Gerry’s in the building, things pick up splendidly. Lindelof and Goddard create their own little mini-movie with new GSU. The goal is for Gerry to get a special bottle the scientists need in B-Wing, the stakes are, once again, survival of mankind, and the urgency isn’t as prominent, since the situation is so fraught with tension (the zombies potentially spotting them at any time). For coming up with this ending as quickly and under as much pressure as they did, they really did a great job.

You know, I got to thinking about this movie and wondering why it was so good, despite its mechanics being so simple. There are no real surprises in this script, no x-factor. It was all straightforward. I was reminded of a movie from earlier this summer that had a similar structure, yet wasn’t nearly as good: After Earth.

In that movie, we have the family unit (Dad and son) and a clear goal with high stakes and lots of urgency (son must get to the tail section to retrieve the S.O.S. beacon). So why did it fall so short of this one? A few things stuck out to me. The first was that the stakes were so much higher in World War Z. In After Earth, only the father and son’s lives were at stake. World War Z had the lives of the family at stake AS WELL AS the entire world.

A second problem was that the obstacles were so much greater in World War Z. I always talk about the value of creating big impossible obstacles for your characters and I never saw that in After Earth. Everything the son ran into was bad, but never “Oh shit ohmygod holy shit we’re fucked” bad. Contrast that to World War Z, which has tons of these moments. I mean at one point Gerry is watching the plane he’s on be overrun by zombies and must decide whether to blow a hole in the side of the plane with a grenade, effectively crashing it, or take on the zombies in close combat. Now THAT’S what I call an obstacle.

The other problem was that After Earth’s storyline was too simple. You were always way ahead of the story. World War Z squashed that issue by creating a central mystery to the storyline: What happened? Pitt needed to put together clues to figure out what happened in order to get to each successive clue. In After Earth, the kid didn’t really have to figure out anything. His father just told him where to go and he followed orders.

And that’s ANOTHER reason why this is such a great screenplay to study. On top of all this, we have a snapshot of the proper way to write a protagonist: HE’S ACTIVE! Pitt is making his own choices, figuring things out himself, and charging forward. Isn’t that a way more interesting protagonist than one who just follows orders from his dad the whole movie?

That’s not to say World War Z was without fault. What keeps this from being impressive are some of the glaring logic oversights. Israel is being heralded as this genius country for building a wall before anybody else to keep the zombies out. Yet they’re allowing random planes to land on their runway and random people from those planes to hop into their city without enduring – oh, I don’t know – a QUARANTINE.

Ditto for the random folks they’re letting through the wall. If someone can take as long as 10 minutes to turn, why are you allowing people into your city after a Q & A session that basically amounts to “Are you a zombie?” The plane that Gerry and crew stop and board is the worst example of this. Gerry’s helping along a pale sickly woman, who’s coming with him. She never turns into a zombie, but if you’re those pilots, aren’t you thinking she might?? And yet they never blinked. Yeah, sure, come on in.

I understand why they did this. They balanced the audience’s need for logic against the audience’s need for urgency. It’s a problem screenwriters are constantly faced with. You could have had Gerry and crew placed into quarantine for 12 hours after they landed in Israel to be more realistic, but it would’ve killed the momentum. I’m not sure there’s a universal solution for this. It needs to be addressed on a case by case basis. But my gut tells me they needed it here. Because everybody looked like morons for never once considering the fact that the new guy they’re letting in the room might be infected.

The thing was, everything else was so damn well done that I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I mean there isn’t a slow moment in the movie. So congrats to the writers who worked so hard on this. It paid off!

[ ] what the hell did I just watch?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[xx] worth the price of an EVENING ticket
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: I always talk about giving your protagonist a difficult choice at the end of the movie, something that challenges their fatal flaw. This reminded me that you don’t want to ONLY wait for that ending to do this. You should give your characters difficult choices WHENEVER YOU CAN in the script. I loved the scene in the plane where Gerry is watching the zombie mayhem get closer and closer, and must make an impossible decision. He’s got a grenade he can throw at them, which will crash the plane and probably kill him, or he can try and fight the zombies off, which will probably kill him. Those are the great moments in scripts, where you see the character battling that impossible choice.

  • Paul Clarke

    At last a film review I can actually read because it was released internationally at the same time. Thank you distributors.

    As for the movie. I loved it, but thought the tacked on ending was anti-climactic.

    It was great to see the evolution of the zombie genre. From shuffling, to running, to primal savages with near super human strength and speed. Made for an exciting view.

    I did have a few issues though (*** SPOILERS ***)

    – We are TOLD Brad is the only man for the job. Yet we never really SEE this in action. Why is this guy so important that every other character we meet is willing to lay down their lives to protect? He just seemed like a normal guy who survived because of everyone else.

    – Because of the way everyone else sacrifices themselves for him, I found myself losing empathy. Everyone else showed more heroic behaviour than our hero.

    – And of course the ending. The scene itself is fine, but if you have a movie with a slow, tense scene of a few people and a few zombies in a building. And the same movie has crazy entire city scenes with thousands of zombies – I think the later should be the climax. Build the momentum, don’t fizzle out.

    For me there seemed an obvious choice to solve these issues (again major spoiler alert) – Why not give him the terminal disease from the beginning? He has left his job at the UN so he could spend the last few years of his life with his family. They need him. Ironically, the only man that could save the people (and his family) is the guy who’s going to die. This solves empathy problems, yet makes the terminal disease a cohesive part of the plot not some tacked on thing. Plus it makes more sense why he’s the only one who can do the job. We just don’t realize why he always survives. It seems like a series of coincidences, then we see that it’s the disease that they are avoiding. Sure it would take away his big choice at the end, but I’m sure they could come up with something else in its place. Anyway, if that part was tacked on late I guess they couldn’t change the rest. Why would you start filming a movie of that budget when you know you have a crappy ending?

    Regardless of all this I still found it a very enjoyable movie. But I do have a great love of zombies.

    On a smaller note – I loved the scene where he’s on the rooftop and he stands on the edge ready to jump because he got zombie in his mouth and isn’t sure if he will turn (something shows like Walking Dead don’t even bother to discus) – But this amazing scene was ruined by not establishing why he was standing there until after. The suspense was ruined because I found myself wondering “why they hell is he standing on the edge?” I think that was one of the best minor little moments, a great character moment, but they didn’t milk it for all it’s worth.

    • yeebarr

      Yay! Finished my major project; celebrated returning to the land of the living by watching my first movie in 6 months!

      Re; the terminal disease – that’s a great idea Paul! They should have given you a call instead of Lindelof and Goddard!

      I quite enjoyed the ending but it was definitely a strange way to finish the film (it was only after I read online reports about the change; I thought they (spoiler) could have put his family in more danger at the end; could have had one final fight as he tries to get to them in the camp?

      And agree with the ledge scene – very cool (and logical)

      Oh…but then (another spoiler) did they seriously need to make Pitts carry so DUMB he had to drop his weapon to open the door? Seriously?? Typical Lindelof – plot beats logic every time! :)

    • Alan Burnett

      Delete the ‘terminal disease’ idea and keep it off the net. That’s a great idea and could easily work for a horror film character: it makes the character sympathetic and vulnerable, there are still be the illusion of physical stakes because the audience will ideally not that the character is invulnerable to begin with, it justifies why a seemingly normal character seems to survive, there will be emotional stakes because the other characters aren’t vulnerable and there are numerous ways you can incorporate irony into the film (maybe the lead character – who was signposted to die – is the only character who survives the film).

  • Midnight Luck

    Ok. I am sorry, but what is this need from everyone on here, and from you Carson to have everything be non-stop action? Like any downtime at all will kill any chance of an audience getting back into a movie. What happened to pacing? People need some variety. I know everyone on here seems to be in love with Spandex movies, Sci-Fi Porn, and Jiggly stuff, with a bunch of Horror thrown in. But, seriously, there are as many, if not more, amazing movies that aren’t full speed ahead at all times, without pause. And guess what? They win awards, they bring in people, they are loved. Maybe I am the only one who doesn’t suffer from ADD or ADHD or BS or doesn’t have a hankering for being on Coke, Speed, or Crack 24/7. It is easy for me to pay attention.

    A movie like SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION would have been terrible if it was NONSTOP GO GO GO for 2.5 hours. And yet it is one of the greatest movies ever, and there are armies of people who would agree.

    This last week I saw: BEFORE MIDNIGHT, THE EAST, LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED (no one probably knows what this is: Pierce Brosnan in a foreign flick), and I want to see STORIES WE TELL, and MUD, and THE KINGS OF SUMMER, and maybe, though unsure still, THE BLING RING (though I have no faith in Coppola anymore).

    Now none of these are big actioneer, set piece movies. The closest thing would be THE EAST, though it wasn’t. It was pretty darn low key for the subject matter. So lots of character pieces, lots of thoughtful creation, lots of down time, and yet, some of them were phenomenal. The most boring movie I have seen in the past month was STAR TREK – IRON MAN 3 – MAN OF STEEL – HANGOVER 3 – talk about supposed “all out action, excitement, fun!” yet they were the most Boring, terribly made movies I could have imagined.

    Urgency doesn’t necessarily mean quality filmmaking. I enjoyed THE ICEMAN more in terms of setup and action than any of the Spandex movies I listed.

    So, seriously, I think the coverage of movies and what makes them good needs to be expanded some. Right now the idea of quality, worthwhile film is very, very narrow.

    • Marlin

      Ditto. And I like action just as much as the next guy. Maybe more. But what I think I see a lot of is more leniency for fast-paced action films/scripts when it comes to structure, dialogue, or other flaws. Things we would normally crush a drama or slower-paced film/script for. Sure I get the urgency and stakes value. It is a good lesson to consider for any scene/sequence/story. And I know that I am fairly new at this site (following off and on for about six months now), but I am beginning to think that all those things I mentioned (structure, dialogue, etc.) matters less when it comes to action. So, Midnight’s point about a fascination for non-stop action seems valid and has prompted me to say what I have been thinking for a while. For instance, the last amateur script review, “Where Angels Die” (though I liked it) was full of cheesy dialogue, long descriptions, and some cliches. In my opinion. Yet, it was well recieved nonetheless. As I said, I too enjoyed the read. So, does action supercede all these things? Not to say that they do not matter at all, only less so. I am thinking that to some it does.

      • martin_basrawy

        I agree with both Midnight Luck and Marlin. I’m new to this site as well and Carson definitely seems to have his tics and preferences, which could stand to be more inclusive (for lack of a better word). I read Where Angels Die and had many serious issues with it, which were already thoroughly pointed out by other posters here. And yet Carson enjoyed that script a helluva lot for other reasons, such as writing style, structure, etc. Those are good things to have, of course, but there seems to be (to me, in Carson’s writing) a tendency to overlook flaws if the rest of the piece (script, film) conforms to certain rules (GSU, etc.).

        • Citizen M

          If a movie has PACE you can get away with a lot of flaws. When I say ‘pace’ I don’t necessarily mean car chases and explosions, I mean the plot is developing at such a good clip that you don’t stop to worry about where the hero got the length of pipe he smacked the villain with (to cite a recent script I remember).

          Hitchcock called it “refrigerator logic”. Plot holes that occur to you as you raid the refrigerator after coming home from the movie. And he wasn’t too concerned about them. He accepted that no movie is perfect, and as long as you got your money’s worth of entertainment while you were watching it, the movie had done its job.

          • MaliboJackk

            Readers have read so many bad scripts that they seem to expect scripts to be bad — and they find every typo, pet peeve and plot hole.

            Do people buy tickets to movies — expecting them to be bad?

            (Not sure if this makes any sense.)

      • Midnight Luck

        *Please read my post above (I added a response to myself)

        and I think you are getting to the heart of what I am saying.

        It saddens me that all those things: characterization, dialogue, etc are completely being swept aside and the powers that be, or actually just about everyone, somehow believes everything will be made up for, if we just add a TON more ACTION.

        And I just don’t believe it. You need to start with characters and story that people care about if you want a movie that stands the test of time. (of course right there I am sure people will say, actually no one cares about that anymore. and they are right, it seems no one does. all they care abou is how much money the movie makes OPENING weekend, and after that, they could care less about the movie, unless by some lark it might win an Oscar somehow, then they will come back to it in late December).

    • Kieran ODea

      I think you missed the point of his review. It’s not that there was non stop action because there were lots of breaks, but during those breaks there was always this heightened tension due to the fact that Zombies were always nearby. (SPOILERS INC) I thought it was a good movie except for the GLARING logical errors which Carson actually mentioned except for the one at the end where he leaves the crowbar outside the chamber…

      • Midnight Luck

        *Please read my post above (I added a response to myself)

        I didn’t miss the point, I got the point very much. See above, I wasn’t specifically talking about WWZ, I was talking about trends and the focus of reviews and ideas.

    • IgorWasTaken

      ML, I feel your “pain” on this. Over the past few years, I’ve posted many comments akin to yours,

      It seemed Carson would often comment, “This script fails because a script must have ________.”

      Then, as with your post, I’d post, “Carson, how can you say scripts ‘must’ have _________, when so many good ones don’t?”

      IMO, Carson just sometimes leaves out the qualifiers. He doesn’t include, “In a script like this one…”

      All that said, in his review of “World War Z”, I think he does actually qualify his otherwise seemingly blanket statements. Or at least he’s toned them their blanket-ness.

      Carson wrote:

      Okay, are you guys ready for today’s big screenwriting lesson?

      URGENCY!!!

      This script proves how important urgency is to a story.

      Sure, I might have written that as, “This script proves how important urgency is can be to a story.” But at least he didn’t write “every story”.

      And I especially liked this calibrated comment Carson made:

      They balanced the audience’s need for logic against the audience’s need for urgency. It’s a problem screenwriters are constantly faced with. You could have had Gerry and crew placed into quarantine for 12 hours after they landed in Israel to be more realistic, but it would’ve killed the momentum. I’m not sure there’s a universal solution for this. It needs to be addressed on a case by case basis. But my gut tells me they needed it here.

      Oh, and ML – The Spandex® people will be contacting you.

      • Midnight Luck

        *Please read my post above (I added a response to myself)

        I hope they are coming to find me. I’m bored, and that could REALLY liven things up!

        I just find it frustrating sometimes that it seems like the attitudes and the styles and the direction on here keep getting more and more singular. Only one thing is looked for, only one thing is wanted. And I know it isn’t just the site, it is Hollywood in general, and from what I can tell it has always been that way. The “No one knows Anything” idea, and so everyone just follows whatever is making money RIGHT NOW around like a dangling carrot.

        I just don’t believe it. Write a BIG ACTIONEER movie right now, and you never know, by the time your script is bought and possibly made, movies like KRAMER vs. KRAMER might be the HOT commodities (ok, probably not, but maybe movies like CLUE or something. Mysteries, not action).

        • IgorWasTaken

          OK. When I read your initial post in this thread, timestamped/posted 21 hours ago, I think I understood it.

          But now I’ve read your reply-post to me, and (as you requested) your reply-post to yourself, both posted within the past hour or so (as I write this), and for me they’re both as mysterious as the label on a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Castile Soap. Which is fine, but I thought I’d just mention it.

          • Midnight Luck

            sorry.

            Thanks for the heads up.

            I am Mucking up as I am trying to Clear up.

    • kidbaron

      I really want to see the The East. Any good? Did you see The Sound of My Voice? It was by the same team.

      • Midnight Luck

        I hesitate to reply. i have a tendency to be VERY straightforward about my feelings about movies.

        I don’t want to color your view one way or the other before you see it.

        I also don’t want to give anything away accidentally.

        I was extremely excited to see what they were going to do to the heads of these Billion dollar companies, and how they were going to make huge statements to the world by doing it.

        That started off well, but it got less and less interesting as the movie went along.

        Brit Marling’s fingerprints were felt all over this. It basically felt like the exact same movie as The Sound of My Voice. Same story beats, same style. It was actually kind of strange. Not sure how that happened because they are totally different stories.

        I am glad I saw it, but was underwhelmed honestly. As I was with Sound.

    • Panos Tsapanidis

      My opinion on this is that first and foremost you can’t put every movie under the same microscope.

      Urgency in this kind of movie is maybe the best ingredient. The same applied to Taken also. But that doesn’t mean that urgency is the ingredient that will make ALL movies awesome.

      I haven’t seen the action movies you’re mentioning so the only thing I can assume is that maybe those movies didn’t apply urgency as well as WWZ did, that’s why they weren’t any good.

      But in this kind of movies, urgency is what salt is to cooking.

      • J.R. Kinnard

        Totally agree with you.

        I think the common mistake that we sometimes make is evaluating movies against each other rather than against themselves. How well does “World War Z” accomplish its goals? How does it fulfill the requirements of the genre? That’s how you evaluate the worth/skill of a movie, IMHO.

        It is instructive, therefore, to compare the effectiveness of “World War Z” and “After Earth” because they occupy similar corners of the universe. But comparing “World War Z” to “Shawshank Redemption” is a false premise to begin with. They have different aims and rules based upon the conventions of their respective genres.

        More specifically, there is URGENCY in both of these films, but it is conveyed and resolved in ways dictated by their genre. Andy doesn’t resolve his problem by blowing up Shawshank because that would be inconsistent with the genre. But Brad Pitt gotta blow shit up because that’s what the genre demands.

        Roger Ebert has one of the greatest quotes about movies that I’ve ever heard. “It’s not what a movie is about, it’s how it is about it.”
        I try to keep that quote in mind whenever I’m writing.

        • Midnight Luck

          I wasn’t comparing WWZ to SHAWSHANK.

          I was talking about the guidance being given and the reviews of movies and scripts. How there is a serious bent toward a singular style and type. Almost every script when it fails is being talked about that it needs more action. Same with the movies being watched.

          And we don’t get Shawshank’s anymore. We get WWZ’s and IM3 and F6’s and SPIDEY6, etc.

        • Panos Tsapanidis

          Amen.

      • Midnight Luck

        *Please read my post above (I added a response to myself)

        I think TAKEN and UNKNOWN (both with Liam Neeson) are some of the best Action movies since DIE HARD. They were smart, they were well thought out, they had characters we cared about. Still Neither was as good as Die Hard, but they were SO MUCH better than almost anything I have seen in between (save maybe the first SPEED).

    • SinclareRose

      Midnight Luck,
      I completely understand what you mean. All movies don’t need an action-packed two hours for it to be considered a great film. But here’s the answer: It’s all about the money… money… money…. (Yeah, I have that song in my head.)
      More people are going to pay the see the action-packed film over the indie drama any day of the week. The target audience of the summer blockbuster is -male, 18 to 35 (I would guess Carson falls into this category)- and those are the ones who will pay. Who cares if it’s a good movie. Make crazy fast things happen throughout the whole movie and they will pay, and oh my gosh, throw in zombies… watch out! That’s all ‘they’ care about anymore.
      We can change that though, right?

      • Midnight Luck

        *Please read my post above (I added a response to myself)

        I agree, that is how things are going, or already are. People will pay for the action packed stuff.

        I think people DO CARE if it is a good movie or not. I CARE, big time.

        Why is DIE HARD probably THE MOST KNOWN action movie EVER? Because it was so flawlessly created. Inventive, interesting, creative, awesome characters you care about, perfectly orchestrated action pieces. It was a BIG ACTION picture, and one I stand behind as a solid movie 100%. But we don’t get those anymore. Not even close.

        I am saying, people are caring more about getting the ACTION in there over getting a great story that includes action which is relevant to that story.

    • New_E

      Totally agree with you – in general. But I think there are movies and movies and genre expectations play a big part. An expensive summer movie — an action movie, must have, well, action. Don’t know that it has to be nonstop, but given the premise, don’t you agree that a slow pace wouldn’t make any sense? It’s a race to save mankind in what is a very limited amount of time.

      Had they chosen to turn this into a Oscar-bait drama with Brad Pitt searching for a cure across the globe, I’m sure the pacing would have been different and just as justified.

      E

      • Midnight Luck

        *Please read my post above (I added a response to myself)

        Again, not stating that WWZ needed to be turned into a drama. I am stating the overall direction and advice the columns here are taking. That #1 everything needs to be going full steam ahead or you will lose your audience, reader, etc. That no one can even handle a half page in a script that lulls, or takes a breath.

        • RO

          Totally agree. Plus there is no rule saying you can’t still have tension and urgency in a slower paced scene. Audiences need a breather and it’s up to the writer and the subsequent production to do it well enough to get everyone on board and not treat fast paced action/urgency as a crutch which it tends to be in most movies.

          • Midnight Luck

            Yes, exactly.

            ACTION can mean anything.

            The building of TENSION and EXCITEMENT is what grips people at the movies, not car after car chase. It is built around the caring of the people and the thrill of the tension in the scene, which can come from a million different things.

            It does not just mean Helicopters with a million bombs and a hundred ways to punch a Spandex man, or a thousand ways to run across a Spanish tiled roof, or a million ways to chase a car down a narrow alley way. Or lest I say: another way to crash a plane. (white house down, WWZ, Flight, etc).

    • Brainiac138

      This reminds me of a meeting I had with an agent about an action script I wrote in the vein of the The Fugitive. It had about 4 big set pieces, but for the most part, all the tension in the script was build around dramatic irony. I felt the dramatic irony created urgency because so many characters didn’t want each other to know all the pieces and what was going on. However, the agent basically said to me that it would be great if these conversations were all happening on the phone, while each other were on the run, because audiences won’t believe a character is in danger unless they are running.

      • Acarl

        Brainiac– you owe me a new shirt for I laughed so hard that I spit my coffee out when I read read where the agent said:”audiences won’t believe a character is in danger unless they are running.” funny and sad at the same time.

        • Brainiac138

          What is worse is that after I defended what I wrote and my motivation I was told that kind of story doesn’t work on a 50 ft. screen. If I want to write a script with dramatic irony and tense conversations I should try to get on Breaking Bad, which he didn’t seem like he would be very willing to help with!

    • Midnight Luck

      A little clarification.

      So I am a lover of ALL kinds of movies. I have seen 90% of the Spandex flicks that have come out. I also see all other kinds of movies as well (except Musicals, unless something really, really gets me interested). I am not saying I ONLY like DRAMA or INDIE’s. Not at all. I LOVE, LOVE movies.

      I am not picking on the World War Z movie, or Carson’s coverage specifically.

      What I am saying, is there has been a serious trend in his coverage of movies and scripts for quite a while. It just so happens in this review he spells it out so specifically that this movie was saved by making it an action, go-go-go movie. And I am not saying it didn’t. I am sure it was a good choice.

      The problem is, that review after review keeps stating that it is paramount to have things moving full tilt ahead, all the time. To keep things HAPPENING, to go-go-go. This seems to be the most important things with scripts and movies, to him, to others on this site as well.

      The problem in Hollywood is that everything is being funneled down to a singularity. Basically they have one tool in their toolbox: MAKE IT BIG or GO HOME! oh and MAKE IT LOADED WITH CGI and ACTION!

      I have read many articles about this particular thing. The movement inside is AWAY from diversity, and TOWARD vanilla, unchallenging, familiarity. So, we are going to end up with nothing different very soon.

      For me, I am VERY TOUGH on movies, writing, and everything involved. I am looking for stories that are done so well, they affect me in a huge almost permanent way. 99.6% of movies feel as if they were phoned in in many ways.

      I want the dialogue, the characterization, the Cinematography, the score, the story, the intricate parts, basically all pieces to flow beautifully. I want my experience to take me into the world that is created and make me completely forget where I am, who I am, or anything that is happening in my life for those 2 hours. I want to be so upset it ended, and wish so deeply it would go on forever when it is over.

      I am REALLY tough on movies.

      I have a TON of movies I love, a HANDFULL that are Perfect in my book, and quite a few that fulfill what I have described above. But in comparison to how many I have read and been to, the best ones barely scratch 1% of all I have seen.

    • Lisa Aldin

      AGREE! By the way, I adored BEFORE MIDNIGHT! I love that trilogy! I’m kind of obsessed with it. And I was riveted all the way through. It would be interesting to a review of that here but I suspect it’s not Caron’s cup of tea.

      I also want to see MUD and THE KINGS OF SUMMER and THE SPECTACULAR NOW when it comes out and STORIES WE TELL. I love “smaller” stories. Stories that could very well be happening around the corner at this very moment but you don’t even know it. The thing is, to the characters, those stories can feel as big as aliens or zombies taking over the world. Those are my favorites but I can also appreciate a heart-pounding action or science fiction or thriller, although it’s much rarer that I end up liking any of those.

      But I agree. A different look at some different stories would be cool.

    • blue439

      You know, this is not really a movie site per se. Occasionally Carson reviews movies to illustrate points about screenwriting, which is what his blog is about. I don’t think Carson’s saying World War Z is Academy Award material, but for what it is, it’s pretty good. I personally prefer 28 Days Later or even the Dawn of the Dead remake because I thought the characters were better, but that’s just me.

      I don’t know if you’re a writer, but the fact of the matter is that art/indie movies don’t really make good examples for a screenwriting blog because those movies are usually generated by writer/director types — the rules don’t apply to them. Basically, Hollywood is the main employer of screenwriters so to break in you have to see material through its eyes, whatever your personal preference may be.

      You might love Lars Von Trier movies, but you’ll never write for him. You have to learn what works for Hollywood. In popcorn movies, pace is a good thing, or put another way, the absence of boring moments. I’m not saying nonstop action. A good character turn is as good or better than an over-choreographed, generic gun battle. The best thing about Die Hard is the characters.

      My beef about World War Z is not the pace, it’s that (echoing others) Gerry Lane is just not a great character. He basically has no flaws. He has a definite emotional goal, but it’s such a generic one — get back to his family. You really don’t want your protag’s goal to be the same as virtually every other character put in his position. It really would have been more frightening to have the entire family in jeopardy from zombies the entire movie. But then you couldn’t have Gerry globetrotting all over the world trying to stop the zombies. In a way, the classic zombie movie situation of a few humans trying to stay alive amidst hordes of undead, to me gives the most propulsion and also gives a lot of face time to the characters. WWZ expands the parameters of the zombie movie, but something was lost in the process. Instead of a few characters we care deeply about, it’s the whole world that’s threatened, but the whole world isn’t such a good character, to me. In fact, World War Z reminds me more of disaster movies like Armageddon where the entire world is threatened by some devastating force.

  • Avishai

    I haven’t seen this yet. I’m seeing it with a friend next week, and will probably enjoy it.
    However, I am one of those guys who’s pissed that they didn’t hew closer to the book. Yes, I know movies need to work on their own, and not just as companions to the book. But the book had something unique that could have translated very well to film if done right.

    I read the same script by JMS that you did, Carson. I agree it had problems. It was cool to see the zombie apocalypse as a retrospective, focusing on the humanism, the notion that unrelated people might have incredible impact on one another and that no single person alone is responsible for calamities like this. The thing is, though, that wasn’t the plot. The plot was “Gerry has to find who’s to blame for the zombie apocalypse.” So while the flashbacks work in and of themselves, the story itself was flawed. There wasn’t any resistance. Gerry was led to his leads easily.

    There were two ways to work with this. One, was what they did do: Turn it into an action movie. Make the zombie apocalypse now. It’s the more generic approach.
    The other was to focus on the ‘now’ plot. Forget the zombies for a second. Gerry is trying to find information that certain people don’t want him to find. Make that urgent! Make it a political thriller. People are after him, trying to stop him. He has to evade these people and struggle against obstacles to find the truth. Make the decisions hard. Hell, if you go to the extreme end of this spectrum, you can have a Bourne type movie, in which the Bourne character’s goal is to find the truth about a zombie apocalypse. I’d pay to see that, and I’d feel much less upset about the divergences from the book.

    That said, I’ll give it an open mind. It looks like a cool zombie movie. I just wish they had given it a different title.

    • yeebarr

      Loved the book. Wished they aimed higher but, in the end, it’s a decent popcorn flick.

      But they should have called it “Left 4 Dead – the movie”; a lot more in common with that game than the book!

    • Citizen M

      I felt the same about the original script. It was actually a post-zombie movie, not a zombie movie. I wrote at the time:

      Ironically, this script only came alive the few times when the zombies appeared. We were treated to exciting writing and vivid imagery. The other two-thirds of the script was a pedestrian investigation exposing a government conspiracy. Routine stuff. We’ve seen it all before.

      http://scriptshadow.blogspot.com/2011/03/world-war-z.html

      They seem to have amped it up considerably. Drat it. I have to wait another month before it’s released here. It’s on my must-see list.

  • gazrow

    “URGENCY solves all your screenplay’s ills!”

    How ironic – Only last week I asked if anyone could think of a zombie movie with a ticking clock?

    They all have GS but seemed lacking in the U. Apparently, World War Z is: “the protypical GSU script”!

    Not going to read the rest of the review or watch the movie until I finish my own zombie masterpiece! Guess I better hurry up and finish it – clock’s ticking!

    • Avishai

      The newer draft of my zombie script (The Last Ones Out, receiver of an AF “Wasn’t For Me) has a ticking clock in it.

  • martin_basrawy

    First of all, congrats on putting up yet another article early in the day. Being on the east coast, I’m enjoying these very much.
    Second, I watched WWZ and loved it. I’ve read the book and really liked it too, and was entirely okay with things being wildly different in the film. This might be the first blockbuster this year that I haven’t had some problem or other with (as I had with Iron Man 3, Superman, Star Trek).

  • A_Wood

    Loved it. Thought the ending was great. *SPOILER* I only assume the WHO guys had a satellite phone charger because it died on the plane.

    I also agree that you can have loads of GSU without car chases, shootouts, or zombies. I’ve seen plenty of action films where I just didn’t care about the action or the chase. Iron Man III? At the same time, I’ve seen plenty of slow dramas that sizzled because they were wrought with GSU.

  • ElectricDreamer

    I haven’t seen the film yet…
    But there’s a nifty detailed article about WWZ’s makeover I found edifying.
    Towards the end, there’s a great bit about how the new writers tackled the content.
    They used an editing bay in one room to review existing footage.
    Then in an adjacent suite — Marker boards! Lots of them.

    http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2013/06/brad-pitt-world-war-z-drama

    Invest in dry erase markers, my friends. ;-)

  • Trent11

    Carson, FANTASTIC breakdown as always. I would just point out that there WAS a quarantine area in Israel shown. It was the fenced in area, just over the wall, where the “climbing” zombies first started spilling over into. There were buses unloading people, lines of refugees waiting to be screened, and lots of guards overlooking the whole process.

    As for the Sick girl boarding the plane… I think it could be argued that the scene outside the plane was so chaotic that once they let them on board (which the pilots did at gunpoint), it was just a matter of them wanting to get off the ground as soon as possible. Ideally, I would’ve liked it better if Pitt was (accidentally) the direct cause of the woman being bitten, which would’ve helped explain why he felt so obligated to bring her along with him (in that case he would have done it out of guilt). Interestingly, this script seems to be a case of “If we tell this story fast enough, no one will have time to pick up on the flaws in logic”.

  • kidbaron

    While watching the movie I wondered about the infection and quarantine issues, too. However, they establish, after the disease moved out of South Korea, it takes only 12 seconds to show signs of infection. The scenes when Pitt stands on the ledge counting down and when Pitt cuts off the soldier’s arm and they do a countdown. It a fast, all or nothing virus by time it went global.

    As for summer popcorn fun:
    WWZ the best to far
    Man of Steel a solid second
    Fast & the Furious 6
    Iron Man 3
    Star Trek Into Darkness a disappointing last

  • Geoffrey Uhl

    That’s the Lord of the Rings Orc method for scaling a wall. Works great if you have the numbers.

    • SinclareRose

      If you’re talking about the battle of Helms Deep, they used ladders, then they blew up the wall and were able to get through. Minas Tirith, they got through the front gate. I really don’t remember any climbing on top of each other to get over the walls.

      • Geoffrey Uhl

        That’s right, they didn’t do that in the movie, did they? That’s a shame. They did in the ’78 animated movie, and I believe also in the book, though it’s been awhile since I’ve read it.

        • SinclareRose

          Got me there. Never seen the animated one and haven’t read the books in a while. Almost two years. But I watch the movies at least once a month. I can annoy people with my talk of LOtR.

  • Sherif001

    During viewing the movie, I couldn’t help but think of what Carson’s coined phrase GSU and how today’s review would be a, “Hey guys I kinda know what I’m talking about”, article its proven to be. This is the only summer blockbuster that has done it for me so thus far. Everything else either sink ship or tanked before even dragging me out to the theaters.

    Looks as though, it might spawn a series of sequels. Lets hope they don’t muck it up like everything else.

  • SinclareRose

    I’m so glad you gave this one your blessing! I’m really excited to see it because Mireille Enos is in it playing Brad Pitt’s wife. I’ve only seen her in the AMC show The Killing, but love her and I’m hoping she show’s off a wider acting range in this movie. Her partner on The Killing, Joel Kinnaman, is also a phenomenal actor. Hope to see those two in more.

  • ripleyy

    Yeeeeaaaaaaaaah, no. This movie was an abomination and if you like a movie like what they turned World War Z into, then I don’t know, you might need to get a check-up or something because you have some insane mental trauma or something.

    • TruckDweller

      Personally, I would have loved it if they made a film of the submarine chapter. That was a take on zombies and survival I haven’t seen.

      • ripleyy

        Wasn’t there also an astronaut section as well? I admit it’s been a few years since I read it (and I still might sometime over the summer) but I remember that one was interesting. Also the submarine one was really good too.

        • Xarkoprime

          Ironically enough the astronaut by chapter dealt with finding a cure. They set up like a space station with satellite surveillance. They were monitoring the zombies and running tests on mice, but they couldn’t find any patterns or cures to help the cause. I’m sure if the zombies weren’t infecting the sick, they would have known from this stations observations. I guess just another inconsistency.

    • Andrew Yoo

      Unfortunately, when studios get the rights to a book they can do anything they want to. Being true to the real story would be “boring”. It’s all about action and $$$.

    • Xarkoprime

      I’ve read the book too…

      I think the only thing similar between the two is the matching title. I don’t think the film used anything from the book. I don’t even recall the army using the term “Zacks”. There’s no cure… There’s a mention of a fake cure that went around giving people hope which turned out to be a fraud. The zombies don’t move like Usain Bolt. Actually I really can’t point out any similarities.

      You’re right, the book had sooo many horrific stories that they could have built on with set pieces. I think my personal favorite is the crashed cargo plane with the ex-military woman running to a set point with “Mets” guiding her. There were underground graveyard scares, creep little asian boy chained up crawling towards a doctor, the blind man killing all he could in the woods. I know that they couldn’t make a movie using all of these stories, but considering Gerry had free roam of where he chose to go, they could have paid some homage.

      Anyway, I actually loved the movie because I was able to separate it from the novel. I think as a stand alone piece of art, they didn’t do so bad. Loved the plane scene. I think Carson nailed all of my regular points.

    • Kieran ODea

      we need to separate books from the films or tv shows they are turned into. the formats are so different. I mean who here read the Harry Potter books and honestly liked any of those movies (except for the last one that was ok)?

  • Awescillot

    Haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’m really eager to read the book too. Maybe I’ll get to that first.

    Theoatmeal also conducted an exhaustive in-depth analysis of the similarities and differences between the novel and the movie: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/wwz

  • http://insideechenrysbrain.typepad.com/inside_the_brain_of_ec_he/ E.C. Henry

    Artistic dud. That’s how I would describe “World War Z”. An artistic dud. The whole deal with Garry Lane’s family, dud; no emotional ressonance. Lack of real scares, dud. “World War Z” reminded me a lot of Will Smith’s “I am Legend”, which also was an artistic dud.
    I get what the studios are doing, they are dumbing down the horror element and going big, with less scary, mondo visuals, in a vain attempt to expand the quadrant of their movie beyond the horror quadrant. But in doing this they lose the heart of the genre, the horror element and the ability to cause geniune thrills in the audience.
    Honestly, at any point in this movie were you on the edge of your seat? I was at the beginning of serval set pieces in this movie, but then as the set pieces played I was continually disappointed, and kept thinking to myself, “Hey, this isn’t so scarry.” Not a good reaction to have when watching a horror movie.
    I was very disappointed by “Word War Z”, sure maybe they cured some ills from the first draft, but in my opinion they missed the mark in the artistic field of creating something that will be remembered in the lexicon of films. “World War Z” is a very forgetable movie. It will not stick with you like say “28 Days Later” (a zombie movie done right!) did. And don’t bother seeing “World War Z” in 3D either, what a ripoff that is!

    • Avishai

      I feel like I Am Legend would be much more highly regarded if they had kept the original ending they shot.

      • Kieran ODea

        which was what?

        • Avishai

          This over here.

      • Poe_Serling

        Just saw this on the news: writer Richard Matheson passed away on Sunday.

        The rest is from the AP newswire:

        With a career spanning more than 60 years, Matheson crafted stories that
        deftly transitioned from the page to both the big and small screens.
        Several of his works were adapted into films, including 1953’s “Hell
        House,” 1956’s “The Shrinking Man,” 1958’s “A Stir of Echoes” and 1978’s
        “What Dreams May Come.”

        Matheson’s 1954 sci-fi vampire novel “I Am Legend” inspired three
        different film adaptations: 1964’s “The Last Man on Earth” starring
        Vincent Price, 1971’s “Omega Man” starring Charlton Heston and 2007’s “I
        Am Legend” starring Will Smith.

        Matheson was also responsible for writing several episodes of “The
        Twilight Zone,” as well as editions of “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour,”
        ”Rod Serling’s Night Gallery,” ”The Martian Chronicles” and “Amazing
        Stories.” His “Twilight Zone” installments included “Nightmare at 20,000
        Feet,” which featured William Shatner as an airplane passenger who
        spots a creature on a plane’s wing, as well as “Steel,” which inspired
        the 2011 film “Real Steel” starring Hugh Jackman.

        • Marija ZombiGirl

          Sad wake-up for me :-(
          About 8 or 9 years ago, I had a website where I posted short stories and short scripts. One day, I received an email from a journalist (who’s since become a friend) saying she really liked my stories because they reminded her of Matheson. At that time, I wasn’t overly familiar with his work so that compliment surprised me a lot (it’s also the most beautiful compliment I’ve ever received in my life). So I bought the complete Collected Stories and also the complete TZ scripts and devoured it all in record time. I’m obviousy not comparing myself to Matheson – it’s the kind of compliment where you just keep quiet :-) But reading his work, I understood why she said that. What I like is Matheson’s way of introducing the extraordinary into an ordinary world. His economy of words, the way he evokes a maximum of emotions with a minimum of effects. And after I discovered his work for good, he taught me how to write.
          Sad day indeed :-(

          • Poe_Serling

            “… my stories… reminded her of Matheson.”

            You’re so right – that is a wonderful compliment to treasure.

            Back in the day…

            Like most kids, I spent endless hours watching reruns and old films on TV. Shows like the original Twilight Zone, Thriller with Boris Karloff, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Outer Limits, and late-night/Saturday afternoon programing blocks of sci/fi and horror flicks.

            And, of course, as I got older I started to gain an appreciation for the people behind theses shows/films – namely the writers and directors. Soon after that I noticed Richard Matheson’s name popping up on a lot of my favorite TZ episodes (Night Call, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet) and films (Legend of Hell House, Duel) and so forth.

            Then it was POW. A ‘lightbulb’ over my head time – I suddenly realized I’m really a fan of this person’s work and started to actively seek out more of his creative output.

        • Citizen M

          IMDb: “According to producer Roger Corman, Matheson’s scripts were so good that Corman usually used the first draft with a minimum of rewrites.”

          We should be so lucky.

          • Poe_Serling

            Thanks for the link, M.

            There’s a book/DVD store here in the Los Angeles area called Dark Delicacies, which caters to the horror/sci-fi fans in the city.

            http://www.darkdel.com/

            Over the years, Matheson was a frequent guest there and did book signings and such. The owner once told me: “He was not only a great writer, but a great guy too.”

        • MaliboJackk

          I remember reading a couple of RM short stories as a kid and thinking — this is the guy.
          It wasn’t until I read the Deadline Hollywood article that I realized why I enjoyed working on one of my current scripts so much. It’s pure Richard Matheson. That’s part of the influence that he’s had.

          I need to take a look at some of his TZ scripts.

          • Poe_Serling

            Hey Malibo-

            The best of his TZ scripts can be purchased here at a reasonable price if you’re interested:

            http://www.amazon.com/dp/1887368426

            I personally own Volume 2. At the time of the purchase, I was interested in how Matheson handled the numerous phone conversations in his script Night Call.

  • TruckDweller

    I was avoiding this film because I enjoyed the book and didn’t want to see the blockbuster version of it. I’ll check it out now that I’ve read your review.

    I feel bad that Damon Lindelof has become so beaten down by the screenwriting community. The projects he’s considered to have destroyed aren’t his stories and he’s been hired to fix them with a small amount of time and a large structure already in place that he’s not to change. These are pretty difficult hurdles and he almost always comes through with a movie that people want to see despite plot holes. The guy isn’t without fault but he’s certainly not a representation of everything that is bad with screenwriting.

  • Lisa Aldin

    Agree. This was a good one!

  • jaehkim

    I was hoping this would be good, and it sounds like I will go see it.

    it makes wonder though, after watching these summer blockbusters on the big screen, how much of a movie’s appeal is watching it on the big screen with surround sound +/- 3D. if you were watch superman, star trek, WWZ at home on a smaller screen, would you enjoy it as much?

    • Ken

      I agree with you: Star Trek Into Darkness, Man of Steel, Iron Man 3, etc, are really enjoyable examples of eye candy that are great to look at in 3D on huge screens with great sound… and then, when you exit the cinema, you start to realize how muddled/convoluted/vague the plots were.

  • Xarkoprime

    OFF TOPIC:

    I’ve got this little group going on called SCRIPT CLUB where we review 1 Black List 2012 screenplay every week on Thursday (usually Carson has an article that day so it never competes with a review). We’ve had this thing going for months now and we seem to get around 5-6 active people every week, most of which contribute to this website’s discussion as well. We started from the bottom of the list and have worked our way up to TIMES SQUARE so far.

    Anyway, we’re looking for about 3-4 new faces to join the discussion every week. I don’t want to accept just anyone because the core group we have right now is really dedicated and insightful. If you’d like to read 1 screenplay per week and discuss issues and strengths of it to learn more about screenwriting, shoot me an e-mail as to why you’d like to join in. You don’t need to have any pedigree in screenwriting or anything, we’re just looking for more people like us who want to learn.

    Oh yeah, and we’re set up using a private Google+ community in which I post events each week, so it is helpful if you already have an account.

    Thanks,

    E-mail: xarkoprime@gmail.com

  • Poe_Serling

    Since it’s Attack of the Zombies day on SS, here’s an interesting article I once stumbled upon about the cinematic origins of the Living Dead and their decaying brethren.

    “Zombies… they began as an anthropological curiosity, drawn from William Seabrook’s non-fiction book from ’29 about Voodoo practices in Haiti… White Zombie was the first screen treatment to pick up on Seabrook’s research and for many years after the zombie was defined as a slave – maybe dead, maybe not – under the spell of Voodoo master. The basic assumption continued through a handful of cheapies in the ’40s until Hammer’s Plague of the Zombies brought this phase to a close with a tale of a Cornish tin mine staffed by reanimated cadavers.

    Soon the second phase would begin with George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.”

    My personal favorite from this Voodoo-inspired era: I Walked with a Zombie (1943).

    Here ‘a nurse in the Caribbean resorts to voodoo to cure her patient, even though she’s in love with the woman’s husband.’

    The film was directed by Jacques Tourneur. A topnotch production from producer Val Lewton.

    This one has atmosphere to burn, dream-like imagery, memorable dialogue, and a script loosely inspired by Jane Eyre.

    • Avishai

      Romero’s zombies weren’t originally an “updated” version of the Voodoo zombies that were the mainstay. They were supposed to be called Ghouls, but the word Zombie stuck.

      • Poe_Serling

        Hey Avishai-
        Excellent point… the living dead in Romero’s film are never called zombies in the course of the story.

        • Avishai

          It should be noted, though, that towards the end of Dawn of the Dead, someone calls them zombies.

  • IgorWasTaken

    JB wrote: “Personally I’m very catholic in my viewing tastes

    JB, I hope you don’t take this in a bad way – I don’t mean it in a bad way – but after some of our back and forth yesterday, the coincidental double entendre in there made me laugh.

  • Gregory Mandarano
    • Gregory Mandarano

      The further the movie is from the marxist filth of the book the better.

      • Jerry Salvaderi

        The further the infowars link is from the SS comments, the better

        • Gregory Mandarano

          Jokes are a great way of dismissing something… Congratulations on your unique approach to life.

  • D.C. Purk

    I enjoyed this movie, especially the first half of it, but I also thought the characters were completely bland and generic, compared to something like, say, 28 Days Later. Toward the end I really didn’t care if Gerry got back to his family or not. It kept introducing/killing off too many new characters for me to invest. It became too “global” and less personal toward the end.

    I also thought the ending was too “abrupt.” That scene with Gerry strolling down the hallway while the Z’s rush past him was great, but I feel like there should’ve been more of a conclusion when he met up with his family and presented his solution to the world, instead of the movie just stopping cold.

    But like I said, I was pleasantly surprised. Very decent script for what it is and considering all the bad press it got.

  • Sanjay Madhavan

    Hi Carson,
    Why is the “Zombie” such a hit among writers and producers?
    Is it such a wonderful concept?
    I mean in the 70’s, we had the “brats” who made brilliant movies and made an impact on later generations.
    Is this really the way for cinema to go?
    In fact, Indian cinema had it’s first zombie movie this year, and god knows how many more are going to follow.
    Can anyone let me know why “Zombies” appeal to the US audience. Is there any cultural significance?

  • Midnight Luck

    *Please read my post above

    and

    I am not any specific fan. I am a huge movie and writing fan. I love genre and quirk and indie, and blockbuster movies.

    I am familiar with what Darabont has done, and am not much of a fan of the rest of his work. Sometimes though, all the pieces just fit together. But if someone had decided that SHAWSHANK didn’t have enough ACTION and that Andy had to be doing Kung-Fu and shooting guards, and running from bad guys etc throughout the movie, it would not have been 1/10th as good.

    We have seen it all before. Just go watch Fast Five, or six, or whatever.

    It was so well done, and unlike anything most people had seen. It kept your interest without all that needless (and usually repetitive and boring) action.

  • Midnight Luck

    *Please read my post above (I added a response to myself)

    I get really upset when I see a movie and it has been made for the Lowest Common Denominator as you have said. I mean the movies are just Tragically Stupid. I think they are really shorting their audience. I think the majority of people are much more intelligent than the movies they are creating for them.

    Maybe I am wrong. Maybe everyone just wants to sit around with a Bud Light while in Diapers and watch GROWN UPS 2 (wow, i cannot even believe the stupidity of that trailer) or any Adam Sandler movie for that fact.

    I am actually not even talking about having an argument about Hollywood Movies VS. Arthouse. I think Hollywood movies can be some of the most amazing Artful movies in the world, and have been. Many of the Arthouse movies are just as terrible as the big Blockbuster movies.

    I am mostly not agreeing with narrowing our mindsets about what a Movie IS or NEEDS TO BE.

  • Gary 1459

    I never read the book but I saw the movie this past weekend. In terms of structure ( GSU ) it’s fine, it may be the prototypical scriptshaddow script. But in terms of character development, it was abysmal. Hardly any character in the script acted like even a facsimile of how an actual person would act. To me, every character felt like they were pushed around by the needs of the plot first and character motivation or logic be dammed. My biggest problem was with the opening scene. I had absolutely no empathy with them at all. They were all just cardboard cutouts of the perfect family! There is no conflict whatsoever in the family unit of any kind. All they do is smile at each other and munch pancakes. Then we are swept abruptly, 5 minutes into the story, into the zombie apocalypse. Why? Because the plot demands it. They escape by hiding in one of the building’s apartments and meet a family with a young son. Gerry falls asleep and when he wakes he can’t find his daughter. After panicking for about 2 seconds he finds her being comforted by the young son because she was crying. You figure the kid will at least be a semi important part of the story cause they gave him some character development. But no. After they get on the ship he’s totally forgotten. Then, the mustache twirling Navy Admiral threatens Gerry’s family with relocation if he won’t go on this mission to find patient zero and the minute Gerry’s phone goes dead, everyone on that ship just assumes that he’s dead and the very next scene the family is being relocated to nova scotia with no real protest from anyone what so ever. Why? Because we need to up the stakes/ jeopardy at this point in the story. But it’s all ok because you never hear anything more about the family until they are reunited at the end all safe and sound, I assume, because everyone is smiling at everyone again. You could have shown the Navy Admiral having to relocate his own family and how he has to make sacrifices too or you could have had the UN guy do something, anything other than to furrow his brow in protest. Ill end this here it’s long enough but I hope you get my point. lol

  • Film_Shark

    There actually is pacing in the third act and you have to hand it to Damon Lindelof and Drew Goddard for coming up with a brilliant way to solve the Zombie pandemic. Without giving away any spoilers, it almost plays out like a video game, the way that Gerry has to walk through scary corridors of a science lab taken over by zombies. And to be quite frank, the zombies are the scariest when they are walking slowly and you never know when there is going to be one lurking around the next corner.

    One thing I thought was toned down too much in the movie is the gore. I’m not a violent person but even George A.Romero’s masterwork ‘Night of the Living Dead’ had zombies munching on a limb or two. Why was it missing in the film? Quite simply, Forster and Pitt wanted the movie to appeal to the whole family. They succeeded and received a PG-13 rating over a R-rating and so adults were able to bring the kids which translated into a bigger box office take for the movie.

  • John Bradley

    Just saw this last night in theaters, loved it! It’s got to be the best big budget movie of the summer!