Marc Forster

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Zombie fans were ready to attack World War Z with their criticisms well before it even hit theaters. Not only was there every indication going in that the film had very little to do with its source material, a book by Max Brooks that was wildly popular with horror fans, but there were also constant reports of troubles with the script and the budgeting of the movie, problems that eventually resulted in its entire ending being re-conceptualized and re-shot. Those aren’t exactly the kind of indicators that instill confidence in potential customers. Really, by the time World War Z came and went from theaters, all of the talk that went down in the build up to its release proved to be a moot point though. Not only did the film prove to be a financial success despite all the doom and gloom from film pundits that proceeded its release, but it also proved to be just about as much of a failure with critics as it was a success at the box office—and for reasons that had nothing to do with how far it diverged away from its source material.

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Globally, World War Z made over $535M dollars this summer. For a movie that cost in the neighborhood of $200M, that’s not a bad haul, especially when you take into account the bad buzz leading up to the film’s release. General moviegoers probably couldn’t have cared less about the third act of a film being reshot, but for most movie nerds, it’s a knee-jerk warning sign. A movie that requires reshoots always draws negative attention despite presenting an opportunity to get some pickup shots, a scene to add some clarity, or in the case of World War Z, a whole new act. Even in the age of special features, we’ll probably never get to see the original ending that the reshoots made irrelevant. At the end of the day, the bad-buzz-creating gamble paid off with this well-liked zombie hit. Speaking with the film’s director Marc Forster it was obvious how happy he was to see World War Z not get chewed up at the box office like some foresaw.

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Now that Marc Forster’s World War Z has hit theaters (earning both a respectable-enough $66M since its Friday release and a newly-revitalized sequel plan), it’s finally appropriate to really dig deeply into what the troubled production’s many changes meant to the final product. Well-publicized delays, a bloated budget, and questions about the relationship between its director and the rest of its team have all plagued the film, but the most enduring question about World War Z has long centered on late-breaking script edits that chopped off an entire act and reimagined not only how the film ended, but how the emotional aspects of the film worked to make that new ending work. Of course, there are spoilers ahead if you have not yet seen the film. Last week, we finally got some insight into the long-buzzed-about scripting changes made to the film by Damon Lindelof, Drew Goddard, and (to a lesser extent) Christopher McQuarrie. While it was no secret that the final act of the film had been wildly altered by the three’s post-original-filming contributions (millions of dollars of physical reshoots will remove the secrecy from just about anything), the finer details of those contributions were not readily available until Mike Ryan at The Huffington Post got word from a source about what exactly was changed, edited, and added by the scribes. In short, the entirety of the third act was added (and the original, “Battle of Russia”-centric act was removed) and a related set of smaller scenes that pepper […]

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Spoilers Ahead: This article contains advanced talking points for Marc Forster‘s World War Z. We recommend reading it after you see the film. I know. It’s pretty futile starting up a list of unanswered questions regarding a popcorn flick about vaguely defined zombies co-written by Damon Lindelof. But just because something is futile doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. I haven’t read the original book by Max Brooks, which apparently doesn’t matter given how little the movie resembles the text. I also haven’t followed every little piece of the production, but that shouldn’t matter either since the movie on screen should stand alone. However, where there is some relevance to explaining something on screen by the issues of the rewrites and reshoots and such, so I do try to mention it if I’m aware of it. Speaking of the infamous production problems, they do tend to factor into narrative flaws and holes and confusion like those I raise below. Additionally the expectation that the story of World War Z will continue in sequels means the filmmakers might be choosing to flesh out some stuff later on. And of course, as usual, some of the questions are not answerable at all because they’re more criticisms in the form of a hypothetical query or simply disagreements with how the movie was plotted or how the characters thought or acted. All in all, let these talking points first and foremost serve as a means to discuss the movie in full without concern for spoilers.

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KenBurnsWorldWarZ

World War Z is not a very faithful adaptation. By placing it during the war, director Marc Forster and star Brad Pitt have fundamentally altered Max Brooks‘ after-the-fact oral history. Which is understandable. They wanted a big-budget, globe-spanning adventure, and that’s hard to squeeze out of a guy traveling the world calmly speaking with survivors. The movie is out this weekend (Rob’s review), and we couldn’t help but wonder what it would have looked like if it were a little more faithful to the book. So we turned to our old pal Sleepy Skunk to make a video that imagines what Ken Burns‘ version of World War Z would have been like. For all of you aching for a zombie documentary, here’s a small piece of alternate history.

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World War Z Movie

The problems involved with getting Max Brooks’ “World War Z” to translate fluidly to the big screen in the Marc Forster-directed and Brad Pitt-starring film of the same name have been documented seemingly since the film was first announced, with a significant emphasis placed on scripting troubles that eventually turned into final product troubles that necessitated massive reshoots. Even in its early stages, the script for World War Z seemed plagued; as far back as April of 2010, a long-promised final script by Matthew Michael Carnahan (as originally written by J. Michael Straczynski) was continually dangled over both fans and the production itself. Even when that incarnation of the script was (finally) finished, World War Z still wasn’t ready for the big screen – though it was eventually filmed as such. After filming was completed last year, the scripting problems of the film made themselves so obvious to the Paramount brass that the studio brought in not one, not two, but three well-known scribes to “crack” the ending of the film – a rescripted final act that led to weeks of reshoots, millions of dollars spent, and the complete scrapping of a reportedly epic battle set in Russia. A banger of an article written by Laura M. Holson in the June issue of Vanity Fair has so far presented the most wide and researched look at the troubles that ate away at the zombie film, but even that piece wasn’t able to answer the big question – who wrote what? […]

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review world war z

Zombie movies come preloaded with some fairly clear-cut expectations. Unless they’re going the comedic route, a la Zombieland or Return of the Living Dead, a zombie flick should be scary, feature folks shambling running rising from the dead, and show lots of gory flesh-munching and grievous bodily harm. Or, you know, they can just make it up as they go along. World War Z chooses that latter route, and the result is a PG-13 zombie film that offers very little to chew on, but while it fails as an entry into the zombie sub-genre it finds a little bit more success as an action/adventure with an unconventional leading man. Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is new to the stay-at-home dad thing, but his past job as an elite problem-solver for the government used to being dropped into international hot zones comes in handy when a family drive through Philadelphia is interrupted by a zombie apocalypse. His old governmental cronies come calling, and after a terrifying night holed up in an infested apartment building Lane and company are airlifted to the safety of an aircraft carrier. The catch is that in exchange for his his wife (Mireille Enos) and children’s loosely guaranteed safety they expect Lane to head out into the big, undead world in search of patient zero and a cure.

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Zombies

After years of chatter, delays, and just plain trouble, the big screen version of Max Brooks’ game-changing zombie oral history, in the guise of director Marc Forster’s extremely changed and chopped up World War Z, finally hits theaters this Friday. While the production’s apparently awful journey to a theater near you (complete with enough script changes to make anyone consider letting a zombie eat their brains, just so you no longer have to attempt to keep track of who wrote what and when and maybe even how and one of Hollywood’s biggest reshoots ever) is finally over, it still remains to be seen if the world is ready for a big blockbuster (read: wildly expensive) zombie movie starring Brad Pitt. While the final product is certainly entertaining (and generally in a positive way), Forster’s film is still just a zombie movie, which is why the coolest thing about the film (really) is the fact that it busts out “the z-word” within its first hour, scoffs at it a bit, and then just runs with it. In World War Z, the world is screwed, Pitt plays a guy trying to stop an outbreak that’s based on a guy who reported on said outbreak ten years later (sorry, source material), but at least zombies are “zombies.” It’s about time.

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World War Z Poster

This isn’t the World War Z that we thought we were going to get. Fans of Max Brooks‘ contemplative book that chronicles the zombie apocalypse by soberly speaking with important survivors expected something from director Marc Forster that would look a bit more, well, like that book. This new trailer for the film is a zombie-covered ray of hope, though. Not that it’ll be close to the source material; that it’ll be a good movie regardless. It shows an awful lot of Brad Pitt looking pensive, but it also shows the human cost beyond the ant-like hordes that cover and devour all in their path. The vision of them taking down a helicopter isn’t frightening, but the thought of them trampling you, chewing your face off and welcoming you into their legion within a matter of seconds is pretty damn terrifying. If it feels familiar, it’s because this new look at the film feels a lot like the marketing for Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion. Which makes sense. What are zombies anyway if not human-sized viruses? Check out the trailer for yourself:

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World War Z Movie

For anyone wishing to see some new footage from World War Z when the big game rolls around, there’ll be no need to switch over from the Puppy Bowl. The new teaser trailer for the Brad Pitt-starring zombie film is sewn together with shots from the previous trailer, a situation which would create a ton of useable jokes if this were a Frankenstein film. Sadly, Marc Forster and company didn’t help us out with that one. At the very least, we know that the people of the world in World War Z have never seen a zombie movie in their lives:

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World War Z certainly had a bumpy production trip to the big screen. The movie got pushed back six months, had a troubled shoot, and an ending which needed assistance from man who isn’t exactly well-regarded for his endings. Based on this first trailer for the film, some of the more creative troubles are on display. Word was Marc Forster was unsure of what type of zombies he wanted, and the kind he went with go against the gritty, grounded style he’s clearly aiming for. Whenever a horde of CG zombies appear in this trailer, Forster’s “serious” approach falls flat. Nothing can take someone out of a movie more than an all-CG character, but there looks to be plenty of cartoon zombies running amok in World War Z. Check out Brad Pitt running, staring off, and shouting a lot in the full-length trailer for World War Z:

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Normally, we here at FSR wouldn’t be so prone to posting teasers for trailers (you know, commercials for commercials), but when it comes to a project as hotly anticipated (and, let’s face it, as terribly plagued) as Marc Forster‘s World War Z, any fresh peek at new material is worth a look. And, what do you know, it looks like the film (the one about a zombie invasion, just to remind you) is full to bursting with zombies (color us shocked)! Really fast-moving, muddled, not-entirely-scary zombies. And Brad Pitt‘s hair. Don’t forget about Brad Pitt’s hair. Consider this a bit of a dud, but perhaps we’ll get more meat (and blood) out of the film’s imminently-arriving full trailer. The full trailer for World War Z will debut on “Entertainment Tonight” (dun-dun-duna-dun-dun!) this Thursday, but get a first look at what all the fuss has been about after the break.

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What’s most bizarre about Marc Forster‘s Brad Pitt-starring adaptation of Max Brooks‘ novel “World War Z” is not all the bad mojo swirling around the film’s production – including a release date shove and weeks of reshoots with “help” from Damon Lindelof – it’s the fact that a book that looks back on a devastating zombie apocalypse appears to be a film that tracks such a breakout as it’s occurring. Which is probably one of the reasons that the beleaguered production of World War Z is now apparently in need of a new ending for the film. Here’s your ending, guys – the zombies win (and Cuba becomes a super power power and everyone in North Korea is gone and most people are, you know, dead). Not so hard, right? Tell that to Paramount. According to Deadline Copenhagen, while Lindelof “cracked a potential new ending of the film” (we can only assume it included not tying up a bunch of narrative threads and forcing the characters to make a a series of increasingly stupid decisions), it was actually Drew Goddard who did most of the actual new writing (thank heaven for small favors). However, even the involvement of Goddard isn’t enough to get this thing copacetic, because the outlet also reports that the project might need yet another writer to sew it up.

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Late last week, the Daily Mail reported that Marc Forster‘s World War Z was set to undergo some massive reshoots in Budapest this fall, with the venerable Baz Bamigboye reporting that the production, wrapped for almost a year, was set to film for a boggling seven additional weeks. And now it looks like things are getting even worse for the Brad Pitt-starring adaptation, because those reshoots will apparently come care of screenwriter Damon Lindelof. The Hollywood Reporter has word that Lindelof has been tapped “to save” the production. He will reportedly focus on the film’s third act – which is deeply hilarious if one considers his apparent inability to really take things past the finish line (yes, I am talking about Prometheus, a film I was fully invested in until its third act, and even LOST and Cowboys & Aliens to varying degrees). The film has already been plagued by potential problems, including the delayed delivery of its first rejiggered script from Matthew Michael Carnahan, who was working off of some drafts by J. Michael Straczynski and the hard fact that World War Z the movie just didn’t sound like “World War Z” the beloved novel by Max Brooks. The main issue – how do you turn a book that’s about a post-zombie outbreak world into a movie about a world in the throes of a zombie outbreak? Oh, and also, how exactly do you focus the action all on one man, even if it is Brad Pitt?

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In the interest of tempering my bile after my last post about Ryan Murphy’s Super Group From Hell, here’s some news that sounds good to my ears. Universal Pictures has picked up Cowboy Ninja Viking, the Image Comic by AJ Lieberman and artist Riley Rossmo, for a cinematic adaptation with Marc Forster at the helm. While I’m not a huge fan of Forster (though I do have a weird soft spot for Stranger Than Fiction), the plot of the film sounds so kickass, and the writing talent behind it so fresh, that the whole thing sounds awesome. The story of Cowboy Ninja Viking is considerably smarter and cooler than that mash-up name might hint at, Deadline Davos reports that “the title character comes from a secret government program to turn schizophrenics into assassins. The protagonist comes through the program with the skill sets of a cowboy, ninja and a viking. While most of the patients involved in the program are sent back to insane asylum after the program went awry in Iraq, he escapes and uses his skills to track down the billionaire who masterminded the program.” What are the skills of a Viking? Skull-crushing? A crazy, skull-crushing ninja who rides horses who is bent on revenge? Sold. So sold.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr strips down to his boxers and starts a new training regimen to make him look more like Huge Jackman. He’s got a head start, considering his torso looks almost like Jackman’s… if you turn it upside down. After duking it out with some robots in a boxing ring, Kevin tries his hands at politics because it’s the kind of business where you don’t necessarily have to look like Ryan Gosling to get a young hottie like Evan Rachel Wood. But the primary system leaves him depressed and cold, so he takes a trip to the Sudan to play target practice with some warlords. He hears the Sudan is simply lovely this time of year.

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Machine Gun Preacher is a biopic that does not sugarcoat its violent lead. Unlike most bio films, this is not about a common man rising to become a perfect hero, but instead, a true anti-hero. Sam Childers — biker turned preacher turned freedom fighter — is not the most likable man in the film. Not only would you never want to hang out with him on a weekend, but even after finding Jesus, he commits inexcusable acts. The violence of Childers, at least when he is in Central Africa, is not part of those inexcusable acts. Many critics have said the film takes a very right-wing stance — and perhaps it does, at times — but the methods Sam uses are very black-and-white. He’s an eye for an eye guy. When Sam uses violence to save children, that’s when he becomes his true self. However, when he’s asked to be the father of his own family, that doesn’t come as easy. Again, not your average hero. Recently I had the opportunity to speak with screenwriter Jason Keller about his dynamic lead’s acts, as well as the themes of the film, not making a lifetime movie, and the process of writing for a true visionary.

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Marc Forster‘s Machine Gun Preacher is a humanistic picture. Despite the atrocities conveyed in the film and the fact that the story focuses on an actual anti-hero, the director managed to end on a hopeful note. Some call it dopey, I say humanist. Even with the upbeat nature of the film, there’s a slightly dark moral dichotomy; should a former junkie and criminal, Sam Childers, be the one leading a freedom brigade? Are his methods necessary or justifiable? Sam Childers isn’t the only character with his own moral conundrum, as one is also a part of Lynn Childers, played by Michelle Monaghan. This is the second time I’ve interviewed Monaghan, and like the first time, she reminded me of that popular girl in high school who was cool with everybody. Some actors look like they’re two seconds away from killing themselves during junkets, but Monaghan comes off like she couldn’t be more pleased to be discussing her work — with a guy like me interviewing her, I’m not sure how she does it. Here’s what Michelle Monaghan had to say about the ending of Source Code, the moral dichotomies of Machine Gun Preacher, when journalism and acting collide, passion projects, and the greatness of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

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No one can ever criticize Marc Forster for covering the same ground. Thematically, all his work ties together, but rarely does he play with a certain genre more than once. Over the past ten years he’s made a James Bond picture, a meta drama, an adaption, a 90 minute nightmare, and a raw family drama, and is now working on an epic zombie film. Forster is not only an eclectic filmmaker, but a candid one. In our interview for his latest drama, Machine Gun Preacher, the acclaimed director could not have spoken more objectively about his work, and what people think of it. Prime examples: Quantum of Solace and Stay. Upon the the release of both films, they were heavily criticized, and unlike how most directors may have responded to such criticism, Forster didn’t go with a simple “they didn’t get it.” In our chat, he openly discussed issues with some of his work, along with capturing his imagination, making blockbuster films personal, and the ethics of Machine Gun Preacher.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a wild summer romp disguised as a prestige flick. We toss together some of the news that your brain needs to hold most tightly to for fear of losing it forever. Do you dare know what can’t be unknown? Since it’s going to be a bizarre (fiercely sexual) post tonight, we start off with the innocent pleasure of shoes. Custom painted movie shoes to be specific. For full disclosure, yes, PeregrinePaints over at Etsy is a friend of the site, but who cares? Her stuff is very cool, the work speaks for itself, and you can dictate exactly what you want painted on your kicks. Not a bad deal, especially for the super-fan who can’t understand why Nike hasn’t produced as an official El Topo sneaker yet.

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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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