Even if you’re only vaguely aware of the development phase of the movie business, chances are you’ve heard reports that “World War Z” endured a number of production problems, including some reshoots of its final act.
And although moviegoers will likely be unfazed by any of the on-set troubles by the time they get to theaters on Friday (June 21), the film’s shift in focus from a global scale to something decidedly more intimate is impossible to miss. (Those who haven’t seen the flick should be warned: mild spoilers ahead.) The filmmakers acknowledge that was intentional, even if they were forced to make that decision because of events outside of their control.
In “World War Z”’s climactic sequence, Brad Pitt’s character infiltrates a medical facility looking for materials that may lead humankind to a cure for the worldwide zombie epidemic.
Director Marc Forster recently told MTV News that they opted to go in a quieter direction because they felt like they’d already accomplished what they set out to on a grand scale. “You know we originally we had this big battle there, but we had it already in Israel, so it’s almost [like] you’re repeating yourself again,” he explained.
“I thought a more intimate, character-driven moment, and [Pitt] and the Z one-on-one is more interesting psychologically and emotionally than having a huge third-act set piece, because every movie, every big blockbuster does it, and I thought it would be better this way.”
Damon Lindelof was one of two writers (along with Drew Goddard) brought in to give that “intimate” ending new life, so to speak. He observed that while the rest of the film did an amazing job of creating a sprawling epic against which Pitt’s character could play hero, the ending really needed to be equally scary but on a more personal level.
“I think that the writers that came before us, from [author Max Brooks’] book to Matt Carnahan’s script, we would have done exactly the same thing those guys did. [But] we had the benefit of coming in at the end with a very targeted result,” admitted Lindelof, who may be best known as the co-creator of the TV series “Lost.”
“I think that if you’re going to have a Brad Pitt zombie movie, there’s no way that he’s going to be able to beat billions of zombies,” Lindelof continued. “So it felt like the thinking was, ’Let’s scale it down, let’s make it a little more intimate.’ Some of our favorite zombie films and TV shows are just about a small group of people versus a small group of zombies, which can be every bit as terrifying.”
Meanwhile, Mireille Enos, who plays Pitt’s wife, offered a more succinct explanation for the change, and one that thematically makes the most sense. “Actually, it’s the appropriate scale. … Keeping it within the lines and telling this family story, this third act does that job,” she said.