News Column

YOU can guarantee that [...]

June 23, 2013


YOU can guarantee that right about now there are some very nervous executives at Paramount. Make no mistake, the good folks in Burbank have bet the farm - to the tune of $200m - on Brad Pitt's new zombie horror.

It wasn't supposed to be like this. With an original budget of $125m, the adaptation of Max Brooks' bestseller was meant to hit cinemas last year. The result was judged so terrible that seven weeks of reshoots were ordered, making World War Z almost certainly the most expensive horror film ever made.

With the recently-dead rising up and feasting on the living, former United Nations man Gerry Lane (Pitt) and his family are flown to a US warship where the military is struggling to find a cure for the pandemic.

And so our hero sets out to find the disease's cause and thus a cure, a mission that takes him to Israel, South Korea and, of all places, South Wales.

George A Romero's much underrated Day Of The Dead was perhaps the last film that had anything new to say about the living dead. Since then, the sub-genre has largely consisted of mild spins on the besieged survivors template.

And while director Marc Foster (Quantum Of Solace) keeps things moving there's nothing here we haven't seen before.

There are boo! moments on darkened stairwells and machete- assisted field surgery to save the bitten.

Most problematic - and perhaps the fault of whoever did the rewrites - is that about 80% of Gerry's mission is entirely pointless.

Watching zombies scramble over the West Bank Barrier may be impressive, but it moves the plot forward not one inch.

Doubtless, World War Z will give producers of the future plenty to, ahem, chew over.

I AM BREATHING (12A) AFTER being diagnosed with motor neurone disease at 33, Neil Platt decided to compose a series of letters and instructions to the one-year-old son he would never see grow up.

This moving British documentary records his attempts to leave behind a legacy.

Comprised of interviews conducted at Neil's Yorkshire home, plus home movies of happier days, it's a sad yet eventually uplifting hymn to the tremendous resilience of the human spirit.

Half the film's profits go to the Motor Neurone Disease Association and the film's distributors are inviting the public to host their own screenings. See for full details.

BEFORE MIDNIGHT (15) JULIE Delpy and Ethan Hawke, inset, perform another walk and talk in the third instalment of Richard Linklater's beloved 'Before' series.

Having met while Euro-railing in Before Sunrise and reuniting nine years later in 2004's Before Sunset, this time we catch up with Celine and Jesse who, in the intervening years, have shacked up and had twin girls.

Holidaying in Greece, the couple come to a relationship crossroads. The earlier films worked so well because of the couple's sexual frisson. This time, the chat feels overwritten and pretentious.

It only comes alive in the last half hour with a humdinger of a hotel room row.

SNITCH (12A) YOU can always rely on Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson to elevate the dumbest of action thrillers. Proving there is a life beyond the WWF ring, he's the man who's filled the boots of Arnie, Bruce and Sly with his brand of brawn and an actual ability to act.

His latest movie won't be winning any awards, but is made watchable by his effortless star appeal. Johnson plays construction company boss John Matthews whose son Jason is caught holding drugs. The prosecutor (Susan Sarandon) offers him the chance to avoid 10 years in jail by snitching on those higher up the food chain.

Despite its done-to-death plot, Snitch adds up to a decent way of killing a couple of hours.

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