The first World War Z trailer shaped the film like a standard zombie thriller. It started with Pitt, onscreen wife Mireille Enos (The Killing) and their two daughters stuck in Philadelphia traffic, not knowing these will be the last calm moments of their lives until the surrounding road rage escalates into a full-on zombie rampage. Only in the last 30 seconds did it hint that Pitt has some sort of skill set that makes him vital in humanity's war for survival.
Paramount Pictures has just released the second trailer for World War Z, and audiences who don't know the Z stands for "zombies" might watch this whole second ad and still have no idea Brad Pitt's bureaucrat is battling the undead.
Instead, this second trailer deliberately positions World War Z as a globe-trotting adventure-thriller, not the umpteenth genre zombie flick. Like the first, it opens with a domestic scene playing up Pitt's family ties. There's a quick shot of the horde scene from the first trailer, and the same race to get Pitt's clan on a chopper—though, interestingly, it's deleted the quick close-up of their zombie pursuer.
The focus is more on mankind's fatal crisis, which goes unspecified. The word "zombie" isn't mentioned. Instead, the film's antagonist is called "the scene," "the thing," or "the end of humanity," with the focus on how fast the whatever-it-is is spreading, as though World War Z wants to be seen as a straight pandemic movie—which, to be fair, is how Max Brooks' deadpan original book also saw itself.
It's also clearer that Pitt is playing an adviser sent to different countries - Israel and Russia for sure - to find the source of the outbreak, and hopefully the cure. Tellingly, instead of having Brad Pitt talk about monsters, in this trailer he talks about memos.
This new commercial is trying to appeal to the global crowd that bought $135.4 million in tickets to see Steven Soderbergh's Contagion. That doesn't sound like a huge box office take, but consider this: the highest domestic hauls for live-action zombie flicks are a three-way tie between Zombieland, Warm Bodies, and Dawn of the Dead, each hovering around $100 million. To date, zombie flicks definitely have a box office cap. And with World War Z's budget stretching past $170 million, the pressure is on for the producers to break free of any perceived genre niche.
Other moments of note:
- David Morse is spotted as a Hannibal Lecter-esque inmate in an orange jumpsuit and jail cell. His character is still a mystery, so all we know at this point is that he has ties to the government. All Morse has cryptically revealed in an interview with WENN is, "I'm somebody who survives and has secrets that sends Brad Pitt on his way." This could be the part that Bryan Cranston nearly took, which he described as "pivotal."
- The trailer ends with longer look at the killer airplane action sequence than the one-second glance we saw in the Super Bowl spot. It looks great, but it also looks nearly identical to the one in Iron Man 3. Must be in the zeitgeist.
- Mireille Enos seems like she might be sidelined on a quarantined military ship with their daughters for most of the film. That could be a waste of The Killing star's talents—or, perhaps a set-up for a third-act twist where her ship will somehow be overtaken by zombies. Max Brooks' companion book, The Zombie Survival Guide, did say these undead could live underwater...
World War Z releases in theaters June 23, 2013.