World War Z: Not the Zombacolypse Movie You're Expecting?

World War Z: Not the Zombacolypse Movie You're Expecting?

Despite big budget, big names, and big reputation; film adaptation of World War Z may not deliver.


Max Brooks' World War Z came out to high acclaim and a huge fan base with its release in 2006, which is actually a follow-up to his 2003 cult hit, The Zombie Survival Guide. Now, you would think that in making a film adaptation of a popular hit in a popular genre with a big budget, a big director, and a big male lead will be a slam dunk for Paramount Pictures. However, with rewrites and a newly released synopsis of the film by Mike Forster, fans of the book are starting to look confused.

     Mike Forster, director of more arthouse films like Monster's Ball and Finding Neverland, has also proven his chops at directing quality action films with Quantum of Solace. However, World War Z is likely to be a completely different creature (excuse the pun). Though Paramount Pictures has reportedly dropped lots of zeroes into the making of this film, the initial pictures of the sets reveal a raw, unpolished look, though the locale (shot, among other places, in Malta) may add some lines to the budget, it's still unknown what the finished project is going to look like. Given Forster's style, and the fact that Paramount Pictures has announced a PG-13 rating for this film (I'll get to that in a bit), it's likely that there isn't going to be massive amounts of undead carnage and people slipping around on one another's viscera. On the other hand, Forster's proven himself with character-driven stories, and Brad Pitt could easily provide the talent for such a story line.


     That leads me to the major problem I have with Paramount's new release of the movie adaptation's synopsis. World War Z is an post-apocalyptic "oral history" about the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. In other words, it's a collection of people's stories by a UN agent, a member of the Postwar Commission, that is interviewing survivors of a brain-eating epidemic to understand how it happened, and how people, societies, and governments are coping.  Note the wording above; "post-apocalyptic", "aftermath", "survivors".

     Now read Paramount Pictures official movie synopsis.

"The story revolves around United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Pitt), who traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments and threatening to decimate humanity itself.  Enos plays Gerry’s wife Karen Lane; Kertesz is his comrade in arms, Segen."

     See the distinction? The book was not a "race against time". Time, for much of the human race, had already effectively ended. As Peter Hall, of, recently ranted, "Why even call it World War Z at this point?" Ultimately, and Hall hit the nail through the head (get it?), the title is a carrot for the fans and the quasi-fans of the book to get them into the theaters. it sounds like they've replaced the original intention of the novel with a more formulaic storyline for mass consumption (of brains...I couldn't resist). That said, they're really screwing with a brand here, and should the movie be A) too art-house an character driven to sustain the entrenched zombie audiences that like to see lots of goo or B) so substantially different from the book as to bear no resemblance to the original other than the main character's name; they're likely to eat that big budget, and quite a bit of crow as well.