Brad Pitt created the most underappreciated apocalyptic thriller of all time 10 years ago

Brad Pitt is deserving of more than a 66 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Admittedly, the Oscar winner wasn’t exactly taking a tremendous risk by diving into the zombie subgenre, but the end product is a gripping and original take on the unkillable horror stereotype that still stands up a decade later.

There’s never been a better moment to explore World War Z and the tumultuous behind-the-scenes narrative that propelled Max Brooks’ novel to the big screen, with HBO’s The Last of Us preparing to take zombies on a radically new path. Here’s how Pitt and a motley crew of filmmakers reinvented the zombie genre and created an underappreciated thriller.

In a few significant ways, World War Z departs from the zombie tradition. Unlike 28 Days Later and other post-apocalyptic films, the plot takes place as the end of the world approaches. We see the breakout and then watch as several governments attempt to avert the disaster. It’s also a global adventure, with Brad Pitt playing a James Bond-like figure who travels the world in search of a cure.

Most importantly, World War Z pioneered a new visual language for zombies. Although George Romero’s zombies shuffled and Danny Boyle’s ran, this film transforms the undead into a wandering hive mind. The film’s most memorable image is a swarm of zombies climbing on top of one another like insects to climb over buildings and take down flying vehicles.

For filmmaker Marc Foster, the zombie swarm embodies the film’s fundamental theme. “For me, the parallel was more about overcrowding today and fewer and fewer resources, and this swarming of them is almost like them going after the final resources,” he told Collider in 2013.

At the heart of World War Z is Pitt as Gerry Lane, a retired United Nations investigator entrusted with determining what caused the zombie apocalypse and how to end it. Pitt leads a young virologist to a South Korean facility where the epidemic was initially discovered after saving his family from New York. Yet when the scientist is killed, it’s up to Pitt to rescue the planet on his own.

Lane is a peculiar character. World War Z goes out of its way to portray him as an ordinary person, but Brad Pitt conducts himself like Tom Cruise in a Mission Impossible film.

“He’s someone with exceptional talents who has worked in conflict zones and has a background in disaster management.” “But he’s also this everyman,” Forster told USA Today.

“Gerry Lane, one of the worst film names ever,” Pitt said. “That was suitable.” I’m not sure why it’s acceptable. Gerry, with a capital “G.” He is the anti-action figure. “It’s a term for an anti-action hero.”

Throughout its development, World War Z encountered difficulties, particularly with its finale. The original script planned for a massive gory fight in Russia to conclude everything, but when it was filmed, it fell flat. As a result, Brad Pitt requested that Damon Lindelof view the film. Lindelof then collaborated with Lost alum Drew Goddard to create a new setpiece.

“[Brad Pitt] walked me through how delighted he was when he read the novel, what was thrilling for him, the geopolitical side of it,” Lindelof said in an interview with Vanity Fair. “But, as we started working on the screenplay, a lot of it had to go in order for the plot to come together.”

As a result, the finale is chillier and more effective. Pitt arrives at a medical research center in Wales after following the sources of the zombie outbreak throughout the world. A group of scientists is holed up in one area of the complex while zombies run rampant in another. Of course, that’s also where the remedy is.

I won’t tell you what the big surprise is in World War Z, but suffice it to say that Pitt and Foster, with the help of Lindelof and Goddard, made a zombie movie that will stand the test of time, even as the genre changes.

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