Saturday, April 20, 2024

World War Z Plays BIG at New York Premiere, with Angelina Jolie’s Dad and Brother


We are just four days from the opening of “World War Z”– and it played great last night at the Ziegfeld premiere. Following a takeover of upper Times Square by Paramount for a lavish red carpet, Brad Pitt and co. hit the Ziegfeld with a big opening. You could feel the buzz in the theater, which seemed especially packed– and not just with people who made the movie. The theater was filled with various Guild members. Also spotted: actor Edward Norton. But the most interesting guests were actor Jon Voight, who is Angelina Jolie’s dad, with son James Haven and his friend, the pretty Ashley.

I thought maybe Voight was in town to promote his Showtime series, “Ray Donovan.” But it turns out he came 3,000 miles just to see “World War Z” starring ‘son-in-law’ Brad Pitt. “I came just for this,” he told me. He pointed out that the “Ray Donovan” premiere is in Los Angeles.

So what about “World War Z”? Pitt left New York right after the premiere to fly to Moscow. He’s literally traipsed all over the world promoting this movie. I don’t think he’s left a stone unturned. And why not? The movie is terrific fun, very scary but not gory. Seeing it a second time, and without jet lag, I liked it even more.

There have been plenty of stories of reshoots. But “World War Z” works, and has a third act with a real story — unlike “Man of Steel.” Director Marc Forster has been able to combine massive, memorable set pieces with great little character bits. The script is heavily invested in Brad’s — Gerry’s– family– his wife, played by Mirielle Enos, and their two daughters. And you buy it from the beginning.

The major set pieces are remarkable. From the non stop opening sequence– which goes on for about 20 minutes– to another in “Israel” (really Malta), then on a commercial airliner (the Zombies are in coach), to the riveting ending in zombie-filled laboratory in Cardiff, Wales– “World War Z” is actual blockbuster entertainment.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
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.

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