Anytime a film is adapted from a book, I do my best to read the book first because I know once I see the film, odds on me reading it are nil. I had been orbiting World War Z for quite a while and finally got to reading it. Needless to say, since I don’t like spoilers, I’ve stayed away from any and all press regarding the upcoming Brad Pitt film.
I just finished the book last night and I absolutely loved it. I loved how the story was told and wondered just how on Earth it was going to be adapted into a film. After doing a little digging online, it turns out that the film seems to only share the name and basic premise of the book. How disappointing.
io9 posted a story back in August that included the official synopsis from Paramount which reads like this:
“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.”
Their story goes on to quote responses to this news from various sites and the consensus is, people are pissed. It seems that what made the book so great is being dismissed and this other story is being used.
The book, written by Max Brooks, follows a UN representative who travels the globe 10 years after the world-wide zombie infestation to interview survivors and document their stories. The interviewer himself is not really a part of the book at all aside from a short introduction to each survivor and questions here and there. This style allows for the introduction to several different characters, from different backgrounds, set in different parts of the world. It reads like a documentary, which is exactly the point. It’s a historical account of the Great Zombie War.
For the film version to deviate from this format is nothing short of a damned shame. Instead of interviews that discuss various social issues before during and in the aftermath of the war, we’re going to see Brad Pitt running around trying to stop the war. That’s the thing about the book….they didn’t stop it. Not at first anyway. The more I think about it the more irritated I get.
The L.A. Times did a story with Pitt that cites the story being about “a United Nations fact-finder and family man who desperately races around the globe to determine the origins of a zombie pandemic that has toppled civilization in short order. The film is directed by Marc Forster (“Finding Neverland,” “Quantum of Solace”) and is similar in spirit to September’s “Contagion” (from director Soderbergh and starring Damon) with its geo-political bent and the aspiration to deliver social messages amid the moans and screams.” That sounds a little bit better, but I would still prefer it to follow the book’s layout a little more closely.
The Times also goes on to say that this will hopefully be turned into a trilogy, marking this as the first franchise Pitt will have been a part of.
For Pitt, the big sci-fi thriller also represents his strongest bid to have a big film franchise of his own, which might be viewed as the missing piece of his career jigsaw puzzle. Forster and Paramount Pictures each view “World War Z” as a trilogy that would have the grounded, gun-metal realism of, say, Damon’s Jason Bourne series tethered to the unsettling end-times vibe of AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”
I don’t know what to make of all of that. One of the common denominators between WWZ and The Walking Dead is that neither story is about the zombies. They’re about the people. If this film loses sight of that it’ll be nothing more than a shell of a zombie movie. I hate to be so cynical about it this early so I’m trying to keep a glass-is-half-full view. World War Z is set to be released on December 21, 2012. We haven’t seen a trailer or even a teaser yet so I’ll hold off any judgement until I actually see something worth judging.
Tags: Brad Pitt, Marc Foster, Max Brooks, World War Z