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'World War Z' One Big Scene: Brad Pitt Brings Zombie Airlines Down

One Big Scene is a weekly column dedicated to spectacular visual sequences we’re recommending you see in the theater. If you have ones you’d like us to write about, let us know in the comments section.
 
The zombie apocalypse arrives so quickly, the world is caught off guard. Commuters heading into work must abandon vehicles and run for their lives. Cities fall. The global infrastructure collapses. And only one man – Brad Pitt – can save us from complete annihilation. 
 
World War Z is a visceral, surprisingly tense zombie thriller arriving in theaters on Friday, June 21. Director Marc Forster takes cues from Max Brooks’ best-selling novel about a global race to contain a spreading virus that’s turning our population into the walking – and often sprinting – dead.   
 
There are several pieces online about the difficult production schedule World War Z faced, and I think they should be sought out and read because Forster, Pitt and the film reverse gears to go away from large-scale, digitally enhanced action to deliver a suspenseful conclusion that’ll make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few huge scenes audiences will want to see on the big screen, including this week’s selection. Let’s dig in!
 
 
The Scene
Paramount is using this week’s One Big Scene as the exclamation point on most World War Z trailers, because it’s a memorable stamp on a tantalizing tease. While fleeing a zombie army that has invaded Jerusalem, U.N. investigator Gerry Lane (Pitt) boards Belarus Airlines – destination: Anywhere But Here. 
 
In midair, though, Lane realizes that a zombie has snuck on board, and is starting to infect passengers from the coach section of the plane. Lane peeks through the curtains, witnesses the carnage, and has to make a quick decision. He pulls out a hand grenade. He tosses it toward the suddenly changed (and now voracious) stewardess… and blows a hole in the side of the passenger jet. 
 
Earlier this summer, we singled out a similar scene in Shane Black’s Iron Man 3, where passengers were sucked out of a hole in a plane. The sequence in World War Z, however, struck me as different – and more effective – because Pitt’s character weighs the necessity of the situation, and has precious few options. From what we’re hearing, the plane sequence was a rewrite meant to punch up the ending. 
 
It worked very, very well.
 
Do the critics agree?    
 
What Critics are Saying:
“Pretty much what you'd want in a summer blockbuster: scary but not-too-gross zombies, a journey to exotic locales, a few excellent action scenes, and did we mention Pitt?”
- Jocelyn Noveck, Associated Press
 
“Whatever caused all the production angst on this film I don't know, but you never get the feeling that Forster loses control of the images, and World War Z contains several of the most effective big-canvas action sequences in recent history.
- Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com
 
“[It] may be the most entertaining and accomplished zombie thriller since George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead...”
- Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
 

 
 
 

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