Zombie world breaks out as ultimate blood sport in ‘Generation Z’

Following a near apocalyptic zombie outbreak in “Generation Z” (aka “The ReZort”), humans now have the upper hand and life has returned to relative normality with only an occasional reminder or mention of recent horrific events. Most people wouldn’t even blink at seeing a zombie now. They know how to handle them. It’s no big deal because humans fought and won the battle and are in control again.

“Generation Z” brings the latest craze in this post zombie-outbreak world is the Zombie Safari: it is the newest and coolest thing in adventure holidays – a chance to go out and shoot the undead in the wild. The ultimate test in action and adventure, the ultimate blood sport and, to many, the ultimate in therapeutic revenge. But unbeknownst to most that go on Zafari, the park is a highly controlled and monitored environment; a maze of concealed security cameras, restraints and barriers. The eyes and ears of trained security personnel are on the guests – and the zombies 24/7, always ensuring a safe shooting distance between the living and the zombies. Nothing is left to chance. Nothing is unplanned.

The zombie movie genre is a popular one, with examples ranging across the decades from George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead to the TV phenomenon The Walking Dead as well as more comedic interpretations like Life after Beth and parodies like Shaun of the Dead. However, screenwriter Paul Gerstenberger was inspired to do a film with a new take on the genre, setting the story in a world after the humans have won the war against the zombie apocalypse and exploring how humanity would recover after such a huge percentage of the population has been wiped out.

Gerstenberger relates this to the years after World War II, where there was a generation who had lived through one of the most violent periods in human history with the irrecoverable aftermath on culture and the individual, juxtaposed with a younger generation born after the War, with no understanding of that reality or the lessons it held for society. According to Gerstenberger, the film explores the repetitive and cyclical nature of “man’s hubris. “We get overconfident, we ignore the risks and we get our comeuppance. And humanity is doomed to continuously repeat.”

Dougray Scott, who plays Archer in the film, says “It reminds me of one of those old Cowboy movies. So if we get it right, hopefully it will appeal to a wide audience”. Further, Scott describes his role as “a lone wolf, sort of the archetypal cowboy. He’s a very mysterious character who you don’t know why he’s there other than he’s good at shooting”. Unlike the “posh business men and screaming kids” populating the park around him, Archer goes on the zombie safaris to “let off steam” and so when the residents are unleashed, it falls to Archer to protect the group as more and more of his own story is revealed over the course of the film. He is also the first of the group to be aware that something has gone awry and that there might be a more sinister cause.

For Gerstenberger, Scott was the ideal Archer, “When people would ask who would be good for Archer, I had always imagined [he] would be perfect…. He’s one of those actors who can tell a story with his face, his eyes or an expression”.

“Generation Z” opens June 1, 2016 nationwide from Axinite Digicinema.

Visual effects play essential role in origin story ‘Warcraft: The Beginning’

In Universal Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ “Warcraft: The Beginning,” the filmmakers went back into the past to introduce the origins of Warcraft and then took a giant step forward with their use of special effects, computer generated imagery, and motion capture technology to tell that story in the most believable way. (Watch the featurette on ILM Visual Effects below.)

By bringing Academy Award®-winning visual effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer onto the project, not only were they collaborating with one of the very best in the business but, fortuitously, he was already a devoted player of the game.

By far the biggest challenge for director Duncan Jones, Westenhofer and their team was the orcs. Of the more than 2,000 visual effects shots created, almost 1,300 shots involved these hulking warriors.

The Warcraft story is one of human versus orc, with each side having its protagonist and antagonist. At the outset, the filmmakers knew that these seven-to-eight foot, 500 pound creatures would have to be digital. But they wanted the audience to be able to see the same caliber of performance from them as from the humans. To do that, humans and orcs had to be filmed together, and that meant the tremendous challenge of pushing state-of-the-art motion capture technology to an entirely new level.

Facial capture has been done in previous films like “Avatar” and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” but Westenhofer wanted to push the technology further. There are only a small number of companies in the world who could pull this off, and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) was at the top of the list. They were already in the testing phase of a facial capture system when Warcraft came along. In the past, the digital information recorded from facial dot markers still required animators to finish the results.

Now, they were actually able to take, almost directly, the motion from the body marker to the end product. And, as a result, it really showcased the emotional depth of the actor’s performance. By placing 120 dot markers on the actor’s faces, which small cameras, worn on headbands and suspended five inches in front of them, recorded, ILM captured every facial nuance of their performance—every blink, flinch and grimace.

Westenhofer admits he was blown away: “We knew we had to empathize with the orcs. So much of how we relate to other humans is by facial recognition. The good news is orcs have faces that resemble humans, so we could now see through their eyes; we are able to sense what they’re thinking and feeling. It really showed the emotional depth that you can bring out of the orc’s face, all because of the actor’s performance.”

Director Jones recalls his reaction when he saw the initial rendering of Kazinsky as Orgrim. He laughs: “Relief. Huge, huge relief. Everything in this film is completely dependent on the orcs being believable. When you have those actors in silver leotards covered in ping-pong balls, and you’re hoping that it’s going to feel like a real character at the end of it, you get nervous. So when ILM delivered those preliminary studies on what the orcs were going to look like, it was a huge relief.”

In “Warcraft: The Beginning,” the peaceful realm of Azeroth stands on the brink of war as its civilization faces a fearsome race of invaders: Orc warriors fleeing their dying home to colonize another. As a portal opens to connect the two worlds, one army faces destruction and the other faces extinction. From opposing sides, two heroes are set on a collision course that will decide the fate of their family, their people and their home.

So begins a spectacular saga of power and sacrifice in which war has many faces, and everyone fights for something.

Directed by Duncan Jones (“Moon,” “Source Code”) and written by Charles Leavitt and Jones, the film stars Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Rob Kazinsky and Daniel Wu.

Opening across the Philippines on May 25, 2016, “Warcraft: The Beginning” is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.