Tuesday, June 25, 2024

London: “WWZ” Divides Critics; Helen Mirren Queen Forever


From London: While Nikki Finke and Sharon Waxman battle it out in Hollywood Hedda vs. Louella style, the movie critics in London are divided over “World War Z.” The Daily Mail critic, who widely disliked and said to be out of touch in general, hated the movie. But I mean, he displayed anger in his short review that was unwarranted and just wrong. I don’t know what he wanted from a zombie movie. Tap dancing?

Indeed, “WWZ” so far has an 80% on Rottentomatoes. I do think audiences will love it. There’s a sequence set in Malta posing as Israel that is absolutely riveting. Director Marc Forster limited his use of CGI. There are 1,000 extras in that scene alone. There’s also a lot of smaller, intimate moments– especially establishing Brad Pitt as a family man who’s given up life with the CIA or UN or whatever.

There’s also a cleverness to the zombies. Forster and the writers give the zombies a kind of sympathy. I won’t explain anything more other than to say that when Pitt finally has to deal with the zombies one on one, the movie is no longer just explosions and killing. Maybe I can tell you more when we get closer to June 21st and the opening.

Meantime, Pitt, his family, Forster, and the cast went to Paris and then hit like a dozen countries before the US premiere on June 17th…

Also in London: I caught a performance tonight by Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II in “The Audience.” This is Peter Morgan’s play about how Queen Liz has had weekly meetings with 12 different prime ministers since she was coronated. Morgan wrote the movie “The Queen” for which Mirren won her Oscar. Stephen Frears directed the movie; Stephen Daldry directed the play.

Mirren is exceptional as the Queen, of course. The play will come to Broadway next spring for the Tony Awards. I am not sure how it will do– “The Audience” is very British. If the Broadway cast is American it won’t work. But the ticket buyers may not get a lot of the references. They must bring Richard McCabe as Harold Wilson. He’s a standout among the seven PMs depicted. Daldry, of course, can do no wrong as a director.

I was sorry to arrive just as Judi Dench closed in “Peter and Alice” after a sold out run. No word on whether it will come to New York. But Dame Judi is in the Oscar race this fall for Stephen Frears’ “Philomena.”

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Read more

In Other News