Tag Archives: Zombies

“World War Z” trailer – Zombies on Speed!

“Is that a lethal horde of newly risen, 100 metre sprinting brain munchers or just really pissed-off fans of the book?”

You’ve heard the rumours about an out-of-control production, on-set spats between star/producer Brad Pitt and director Marc Forster and disgruntled observations about how the synopsis bears no resemblance to Max Brooks‘ excellent novel – now witness the skin-crawling horror of “World War Z” for yourself with the new trailer!

And yes, it doesn’t really remind me too much of the Brooks book – I’m not seeing any epic ‘Battle of Yonkers‘ footage in that trailer – but it does look like it has the making of a splendidly action-packed horror blockbuster on a scale that we don’t see too often.  I guess $180 million buys a lot of urban destruction, free-running zombie hordes and military hardware, if not quite the confidence that “Quantum of Solace” director Forster has learned how to direct action (Does anybody else wish that Hollywood would take a leaf out of Hong Kong cinema‘s fine play-book and start having separate action/drama directors on a film?  Jean-Pierre Auteur gets to direct his challenging meditation on the illusion of contemporary monogamy and Michael Bay tag-teams in to blow shizz up and have Marion Cotillard run amok with an M16 – everybody wins!).

“You’re gonna’ need a bigger boat…”

Ahem.

“World War Z” opens in June 2013 and that high-pitched noise you can hear on the internet is a million Brooks fan boys crying out in revulsion at the prospect of the slow, relentless, all too numerous brain-chowing shambling undead of the novel being given a  cinematic make-over into speedy, mob-handed loons whose pace is so quick that even Usain Bolt would have his hands full trying to outpace them.

It could be..quite good?  

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Uwe Boll X Zombies = Fun?

It seems utterly beyond belief that this meeting of the minds hasn’t happened until now.  Legendary Z-grade auteur and astute money man Uwe Boll – in his capacity as producer – has gone zombie.

I’m sure he has a lovely personality…

Sensibly, and perhaps understandably given his status as go-to punching bag for any genre film fan bemoaning the questionable standard of modern exploitation cinema, Boll has chosen to stick behind the camera on this one, leaving the orchestration of gory gut munching and head-shot kills to a pair of Italian film makers.

Intrigued?  Check out the trailer here.

It has a weird, cg-enhanced look which doesn’t entirely work for me – the military base location looks less like the foreboding backdrop to a zombie versus bad-ass soldiers showdown  and reminds me more of an episode of BBC Three‘s excellent ‘Canines Gone Wild!’ show, “Dog Borstal” (something tells me that grumpy dog trainer Mic Martin could take down any errant undead brain muncher with a roundhouse kick and a ‘Leave it!’).

Still, as a fan of most horror flicks which aren’t from the “Saw”/”Hostel“/blah school of torture and nit-wittery, I can always find it in my heart to enjoy a spot of gross make-up, the world gone to heck and intense actors wrestling manfully with dialogue that most daytime soap operas might reject as being a tad bit heavy on the exposition.

It can’t be as bad as “House of the Dead”, can it?  (Warning – NSFW video link contains gore. And ass hats)

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“Resident Evil” week – “Apocalypse” LOL

Yes, this scene appears nowhere in the film. Truth in advertising – how does that work?

Having inspired the ire of survival horror gamers globally by not sticking slavishly to the “R.E.” canon with his first “Resident Evil” film, writer, director and producer Paul W.S. Anderson handed off directorial duties of the sequel, “Resident Evil: Apocalypse” to Chilean-born Alexander Witt.

Witt’s long CV encompasses the likes of “The Hunt for Red October“, “Twister“, “Gladiator” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” – as a second unit director of photography.  A pretty crucial distinction, that.  Because whatever he may have picked up whilst working with Ridley Scott, John McTiernan, Steven Spielberg and Rob Cohen, storytelling wasn’t a part of it – even by the questionable standards of coherence exhibited throughout the “Resident Evil” series, this sequel is low on clarity, high on explosions and subject to some bonkers shifts in tone.

“Apocalypse” picks up where the first “Resident Evil” left off, with heroine Alice (Milla Jovovich) waking up in a Raccoon City overrun by zombies and possessed of a powerful urge to get even with the all-powerful Umbrella Corporation whose unchecked bio-weapons division are indirectly responsible for the catastrophe in the first place.  As Alice wanders the streets searching for suitably fashion-forward combat gear to replace the hospital gown she awoke in, the film series takes the opportunity to introduce another iconic character from the video games.

Oh hai there Resi Jill!

British actress Sienna Guillory plays tough-as-nails, swaggering Raccoon City cop Jill Valentine –  a quite distinct departure from games series canon, where Jill appeared in the first title and was a bad-ass member of the elite S.T.A.R.S team – and is one of the best elements of this sequel, albeit one who is inexplicably attired throughout the movie: If you found yourself abruptly quarantined within the city limits of a burg violently overrun by the recently un-deceased and needing to fight your out-of-town against hefty P.M.C. aggression, would you dress like you’ve just stepped off the set of a Warrant video?

When it’s not undoing the mostly good, almost feminist work of its previous instalment, this “Resident Evil” sequel is content to barrel along from set-piece to set-piece, merrily jettisoning logic and eschewing characterisation in a hunt for a bigger, badder bang – there’s not a great deal of ambition on display in this entry beyond finding new camera angles for unfortunate zombies to pop in from, periodically attack characters (in order of importance) and get blasted into z-burger by our tooled-up cast.

As we spend the entire film’s running time in and around Raccoon City, the plot focusses on the hunt for Umbrella Corporation’s scientist Charles Ashford (Jared Harris)’s marooned daughter, Angela (Sophie Vavasseur) due to be evacuated from the hot zone before lock down and left behind when her rescue SUV is beaned by a convenient, almost non-sequitor truck collision – it’s staged so abruptly as to boggle the mind.  I know that this is an action movie and that the genre’s not one where logic has to take centre stage, but one might hope that a truck in a recent collision with a vehicle might stop a while and see that it’s occupants are not, you know, dead and stuff.

They’re coming for you, Alice…

The big let-down, for me, with this film was the wholesale lack of coherence in the action sequences – something which really shouldn’t be an issue when a director of photography with experience of shooting just such footage is at the helm.  Rather than a compelling story which follows our rag-tag band of survivors to safety through Ground Z, we get exaggerated, ‘Dutched’ camera angles and film processing techniques employed which don’t add anything to the viewing experience other than annoyance and the distinct sense that somebody’s trying to mask the lack of a script by flinging gun-fights and periodic fights with the new Nemesis villain into the mix.

Yes, I said it – Anderson’s screenplay is perhaps the actual antagonist which besets this film, managing to insult your intelligence and barely pass muster in terms of scares, thrills or storytelling.  If you told me that it was a first draft effort and never meant to be taken to production, I’d have a hard time disagreeing with you – there’s a rushed, unfinished feeling to the piece.  It has real problems with advancing the story, being content instead to give Alice not especially well-explained super human powers which let her perform cool, wish-fulfilling bad ass feats of heroism and make her essentially invulnerable.

You don’t need me to tell you that this creates real dramatic problems, namely that there is no drama if your lead character can’t be hurt and spends half of her time on screen being cooler, more athletic, wittier and more empathetic than anybody else in the film.  If you read my review of the first film , you’ll note my use of the term ‘Mary Sue’ – here, in the second film, Alice becomes a definitive embodiment of that dubious notion.

Razaaq Adoti, Sienna Guillory and Sandrine Holt bask in Alice’s awesomeness in “Resident Evil – Apocalypse”.

It’s not all a downer – Jared Harris brings genuine class and invests a by-the-numbers role with layering, Oded Fehr pops up as Carlos Olivera and reminds us that he should have been a much bigger movie star than he is and the soundtrack’s quite good in a Fluffrick Playlist kind of way – Deftones, Lacuna Coil, Nightwish (on the Euro release), the glorious A Perfect Circle and Rammstein bang out state-of-the-art metal tunes which still have a place on my mp3 player today.

Overall, though, this is definitely the least accomplished entry in the series – crap action sequences, cardboard cut-out characters with ersatz motivations and throw-it-in-the-air-and-see-where-it-lands plotting all conspire to make this film live up to every criticism often levelled at video game to movie adaptations and make a boring zombie action movie.

It takes real talent to make an action horror movie with a ninety minute running time dull.

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“Dead Island” – today’s random controversy…

Polish developer Techland managed to raise awareness of their upcoming zombie RPG, “Dead Island”, to feverish levels of anticipation earlier this year when they released THAT trailer.

People with modern haircuts and designer glasses were falling over themselves to heap praise on Scottish animation studio Axis’ work on the teaser trailer, which managed to make an honest-to-goodness video game a topic of discussion for people who would never dream of picking up a controller and melee-attacking the undead in a balletic swirl of viscera.

Is there any such thing as bad press?

The odd whisper about how much the trailer represented the end content of the game has surfaced in the weeks preceding this Friday’s actual release of the game – not much, you’ll be staggered to learn – and today’s games blog Eurogamer is tracking a story about a line of code in the PC game uncovered by Steam users which referenced a now-deleted character attribute with the charming title ‘Feminist Whore‘ – which gave the game’s sole female character an added damage bonus when attacking male protagonists.

There are better package holidays available online...

Cue much predictable backtracking from the developer and much hand-wringing as to the inappropriate title and the line of code’s erroneous presence in the PC build – which, you may recall from stories earlier this week, has already been the source of forum ire when it turned out that Steam had been mistakenly presented with an Xbox 360 dev build by Techland in lieu of, you know, a PC version.

That storm in a teacup will be averted by a suitably huge patch on release this Friday but the frequency of stories relating to the game makes me wonder if controversy is being used to divert attention away from some not terribly brilliant review scores now online – the Xbox 360 Metacritic is currently 72, PC is 81 and PS3 stands at 73.

Not, then, necessarily a game experience which rivals “The Walking Dead” in telling a compelling tale about post-Zombie uprising survival but hopefully something which takes the eccentricities inherent in many European Dev houses and manages to port that off-kilter sensibility to a console game.  If any of the PC game weirdness has survived the trip to the home systems, I’ll be a happy gamer.

 

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