It looks like we’re actually getting a sequel to World War Z, which had exactly zero to do with the anthology of stories by Max Brooks (a similar phenomenon can be experienced by watching I, Robot after paging through Asimov’s collection of stories of the same name). This isn’t entirely unexpected, as the original grossed over half a billion dollars at the box office worldwide, and various news items have announced that the film would contain Brad Pitt, be directed by J.A. Bayona, and would work from a script written by Steven Knight. Those involved with the film are being very close-lipped with regards to the plot of the film, but apparently they believe that they have a vast array of stories at their disposal. Since there are not any interesting plot details to discuss, I’d like to talk about the original film and the talent assembled so far.
The original World War Z was a little divisive for the fans of the source material, which was an incredibly fresh take on the zombie apocalypse genre. In truth, the story of the film is that of a very generic zombie movie, and really doesn’t feel so different from most post-apocalyptic zombie movies. One aspect that it did get right was the global view of the zombie outbreak. Most zombie movies end up focusing on a small band of survivors as they either travel across an infested wasteland, hole up and defend a small bunker of some kind, or even both. But, rarely do we get to see the global ramifications of such an outbreak, and World War Z demonstrates these ably. We get to see how different places all around the world react to and handle the zombie outbreak, and it is very entertaining. Various action sequences hit or miss, but overall the movie is a fine summer blockbuster – it just wasn’t what fans of the book wanted out of a World War Z movie. We should expect the sequel to approach its material in a similar way. It is not likely that we will get to experience the interwoven vignettes of Brooks’ book, but we may get a story based upon some of the ideas contained therein.
However, due to the writing and directing talent attached, we may be in store for something more idiosyncratic than your standard zombie movie. The writer, Steven Knight, has many credits to his name, but the most intriguing to me is the screenplay he wrote for the Tom Hardy vehicle Locke. Locke is an absolutely fantastic film, and a review of it should appear on this blog in the near future, but suffice to say that the script for that film was absolutely essential to its success. In addition, while the director J.A. Bayona has very few credits to his name, The Orphanage is among them. If you have never experienced The Orphanage, you may not understand why Bayona’s direction is welcome. Basically, this horror film seems like it is going to tell your standard haunted house story, but in lieu of cheap jump scares and fantastical ghosts, you get a truly chilling atmosphere that ends with an absolute punch in the gut. If either Knight or Bayona replicate their individual successes from these films, the World War Z sequel has a chance to be interesting, but if they succeed together then we could have something special on our hands. This film is way out in the future with a July 2017 release date, but it is definitely one on which I will be keeping tabs.