This is a reasonably good zombie film, but one massively hindered by a director who hasn’t learned from previous mistakes. The man in question, Marc Forster, was criticised on a grand scale for his ultra fast editing of the action sequences on the Bond film ‘Quantum of Solace’, and here the same problem all but ruins the opening section of the film, where we are granted our first visual treatment of the zombie hordes (they are effectively the same as the zombies infected with the rage virus in 2002’s ‘28 Days Later’) and everything is so completely frenetic we can’t make out what on Earth is going on. The idea was to put the audience in the situation as much as possible, but ironically it has the very opposite effect, deadening our perception of events, in much the same way as watching a tense scene in fast forward would do.
It’s based on the novel by Max Brooks (the son of Mel Brooks), and after the first half an hour or so things start to pick up, and the story gets going. Brad Pitt does a good job of playing the central character, Gerry Lane, employed to investigate the source of the outbreak due to his military connections with the U.N. At one point he awakens to find himself tied to a stretcher and facing none other than Malcolm Tucker (well, Peter Capaldi) from ‘The Thick of it’, which is potentially far scarier than any of the zombie attacks. Decent, but never as tense as it should be.
The film is already famous throughout Scotland for being partly filmed in Glasgow, doubling up as Philadelphia, most notably in the city centre for the aforementioned starting attack. It is great to see the city on the big screen, and it’s obvious not just because of its architecture, but also because it looks decidedly coooooold and dreich (for anyone not familiar with Scots, this word is almost always used in connection with the weather and means dreary and miserable, we use it a lot) and I wonder if local business won’t be able to milk that to some degree, a zombie cafe perhaps, or the occasional zombie flash dance on unsuspecting tourists would be interesting …
The film is planned as part one of a trilogy, so the studios may return to Scotland’s largest city in the future. On a similar vein, Neil Marshall’s ‘Doomsday’ (08) revolved around a deadly killer virus which, naturally, began with one person coughing on the streets of Glasgow city centre. England’s response to the outbreak is to build another wall to keep us out, much like the Romans did, and the rest of the world pretty much leaves Scotland to die. Being a hardy bunch we don’t, of course, but we do degenerate into cannibalism and tribal warfare. All, that is, except for Dundee, which essentially carries on as normal.