World War Z: surfing a wave of internet cynicism

Feature Ryan Lambie 12 Nov 2012 - 07:12

The inaccuracy of the forthcoming World War Z adaptation has displeased some. But does the film deserve all the cynicism, Ryan wonders...

It's now more than six years since the original publication of Max Brooks' World War Z: An Oral History Of The Zombie War. An account of a zombie outbreak told from the perspective of its survivors, the novel fused horror with the rigour of speculative fiction, in that it attempted to imagine how governments and individuals might react to such an outbreak, and how it might affect the already tense relationships between nations.

As the epidemic spreads, pharmaceutical companies line their pockets with useless 'cures', rival states settle old scores, and the US military struggles to adapt to a war with a slow yet indefatigable enemy. "Ignorance was the enemy," one character bitterly observes; "cold, hard facts were the weapons."

The quality of World War Z as a piece of social commentary made it a critical and popular hit. Sure, its descriptions of zombie attacks were vivid and helped its sales (the account of a blind Japanese sensei's zombie fights particularly lingers in the mind), but World War Z's grounding in 21st century reality - and how a zombie outbreak would affect it - were what made it so compelling to read.

When the book inspired a Hollywood bidding war back in 2007, it was broadly assumed that an accurate adaptation would take the form of a mockumentary, with first-person accounts intercut with fake archive footage of the outbreak. When Brad Pitt's production company Plan B Entertainment secured the rights,  screenwriter J Michael Straczynski - once the showrunner on Babylon 5 - was given the difficult task of somehow moulding World War Z's oral history into a compelling script. 

With Marc (Quantum Of Solace) Forster hired as director, things appeared to be moving apace. A leaked draft of the script was described glowingly by Ain't It Cool, and compared to the superb Children Of Men, or a 70s conspiracy thriller. Brooks expressed his approval of Straczynski's screenplay, telling Fangoria, "Straczynski found a way to tie it all together. The last draft I read was amazing."

By 2009, however, the situation appeared to have changed somewhat. Although production was expected to begin at the beginning of that year, it transpired that the script was still being reworked. Presumably, the text was being amended to accommodate Brad Pitt, who was confirmed as the movie's headline actor in 2010. By this point, Straczynski had been replaced by a new writer, Matthew Michael Carnahan, the writer of The Kingdom and Lions For Lambs.

World War Z finally went into production in 2011, with a shooting budget of around $180 million. It was at this point, when Paramount put out an official synopsis, that it became clear that the movie would be departing radically from the book. "The story revolves around United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Pitt)", the blurb went, "who traverses the world in a race against time to stop the zombie pandemic."

For devotees of the source, the notion of the central character being in the usual 'race against time' stuck in the throat somewhat; the novel was presented as a series of interviews compiled after the fact, rather than a thriller-style search for a cure. Apart from the antipathy from fans, the movie had its own behind-the-scenes problems to deal with. Originally intended for release in December 2012, World War Z's release was pushed back to June 2013 to allow for a third-act rewrite. Damon Lindelof and then Drew Goddard were brought in to rework the final segment, and reshoots began in September and October. 

So given all of this production history and internet grumbling, how does the newly-released trailer measure up to our expectations? The first, and most obvious conclusion to draw is that, yes, World War Z will be a conventional action/adventure/horror mash-up, with little hint of the multiple narratives and documentary style of the book.

In fact, the trailer's opening sequence, in which Pitt's Gerry Lane and his wife Karin (Mireille Enos) play I Spy with their two kids in a Manhattan traffic jam, has the vaguest hint of Steven Spielberg's War Of The Worlds adaptation to it. Gradually, we see the scale of the outbreak, as the city descends into chaos. With the Inception-like parps of the soundtrack, men in uniform tell us that the zombie epidemic is global, and that, for whatever reason, UN chap Gerry is humanity's only hope.

Comments have already been made about World War Z's running zombies, which draw inevitable comparisons with Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later and its sequel, as well as Zack Snyder's Dawn Of The Dead remake.

Leaving aside all the things that World War Z isn't - it isn't a direct adaptation of the book, and it certainly isn't a full-blooded horror in the Romero mode - it's worth focusing on what the movie could possibly provide. For one thing, its high budget has allowed for the kind of expansive scenes of rampaging ghouls and devastation that an indie zombie movie could only hint at. 

Whatever you make of the whole running zombie issue, it has to be said that the images of hundreds of the undead piling on top of one another like a swarming mountain are quite startling, and it's difficult to think of another genre movie to have attempted something like it, except maybe Starship Troopers and its army of giant insects. If nothing else, the trailer shows just how far computer graphics have come since 2007's I Am Legend, whose disappointing digital monsters proved such a distraction from its otherwise sure-footed build-up.

And while the documentary trappings of the book are long gone, its scope remains; the trailer gives brief hints of Pitt's visits to other parts of the world (possible India) in search of a solution to the nightmare.

Inevitably, question marks remain over Marc Forster's movie. Gerry Lane is a toe-curling name for a character, and it's impossible to discern from a two-minute trailer whether World War Z will retain the book's keen social commentary. But equally, it would be churlish to write a movie off on the basis of little more than 120 seconds' worth of footage, particularly when it displays what is a relatively unusual handling of the undead; they don't so much run as flow like a seething tidal wave. Time will tell whether the satire remains, but for now, the global sweep of Max Brooks' novel is definitely present and correct.

If the internet's comments are to be believed, the trailer has done little to stem the cynicism surrounding the film, and it appears that, for some, World War Z can do no right. We, on the other hand, are willing to keep an open mind. Because while the movie appears to retain only vague echoes of the book, this certainly doesn't mean it won't be a decent piece of entertainment in its own right - as some literary adaptations have proved in the past, accuracy isn't always a guarantee of quality.

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This is nothing new. Look how much I Am Legend deviated from the source and consequently sucked.

I'm interested by your comment about the graphics and how much they've improved since I am Legend because from the trailer, apart from close ups (which I'm guessing are actors) the zombies seem to move in a very unrealistic fashion and look quite blurry and indistinct. its almost comical how they pile up and move down that street like a wave.

I would like to know what are these adaptations that have deviated so much from the source material and have been a success in which you speak of? John Carter? Sahara? Series of unfortunate events? Eragon? Golden Compass? Master and commander? Battlefield Earth? Time travellers wife? Lovely bones?

Or are you talking about things such as Lord of the Rings that stuck so closely to the source material for the vast majority of the screen time that you can barely separate it from the books? The original Time machine movie that was a huge success? Bridget Jone's Diary perhaps? Jurassic Park? Again stuck to the source material and worked well. I'm not saying that this movie isn't going to do well but you can't claim that "accuracy isn't always a guarantee of quality" when the evidence is that movies that change so much from the original material generally suck at the box office and suck at the reviews as well.

For the tldr-people:
Movie will suck. Deal with it.

Everyone else, please continue:

I agree with you that literary adaptations have shown that some pieces of literature can not be brought onto the silver screen. There are numerous examples, e.g. Timeline by Michael Crichton was the most visual of his novels only being butchered by the film industry to be an incoherent atrocity with a cast of partially good actors that were mis-cast.

Or another example I am Legend by Richard Matheson with such a strong ending that moves you and makes you wonder if the story is really what you thought it to be. And the movie? Will Smith in glorious sets. But of course the movie is deep! Why? Well in one scene, Will recites parts of Shrek to show just how alone he is in this world. Not to spoil anyone with the movie's ending but the screenwriter got it wrong. Or was it the producers? Nevertheless, the ending still refers to the title by completely destroying the author's intent. Overall, the movie was a good piece of entertainment. And had I not read the book beforehand, I would have been entertained by the special effects and the few moving moments in the film.

One last example before I move on. Troy - Brad Pitt toned and sun-burned. While big stories have to be dumbed down to fit the tiny brains of the masses (including me and everyone else) and the general problem that it is difficult to adapt the written word into a movie script, someone has to ask the question: Why do some director/writers succeed with the adaptation of novels? Lord of the Rings was faithful to the novel and while some hardcore fans might have some grudges with the trilogy, it is one of the most faithful adaptations in motion picture history. The list of good and acceptable movie adaptations is as long as the list of bad ones. The Shining (though hated by King himself), The Deathmaker (not really a novel as a source but still valid), etc.
I don't expect movies to be exactly the same as the source. This is impossible and therefore it is an adaptation. Changes is a must. But you should be able to take the author's premise and work with that. Timeline failed because it was an action film with knights when it should have been a story of survival for a group of people that know the place and time theoretically. The movie I am Legend fails due to misunderstanding the basic idea. The exact reason why WORLD WAR Z fails.

First, the basic concept of the World War Z is that the world was overrun by zombies because nobody expected it. You can follow the path of the outbreak with every chapter of the book. Organ trafficking and people smuggling prevent anyone from noticing the global outbreak. Max Brooks biases you with the Historian's fallacy by the first page and you ask yourself how could that happen. Don't they see the pattern I do? The battle of Yonkers is the best example. Afterwards, they all knew what should have been done. But at the time, their decisions were wrong.

Second, the movie focuses on Brad Pitt's character. One guy has the potential to save all of the survivors in time. Take a look at the characters in the book. One smuggled people, one is a deserter, the next one is a grunt. There is nothing special about them. Some have gone crazy, some haven't. Some were trained, some weren't. Some were nowhere near the outbreak, some were right in the middle. The problem is that there is no reason why they survived and others didn't. It was coincidence that Todd wainio survived while his comrades died. There is nothing special about them. They got lucky (or not depending on the character you want to talk about).
None of the characters had mankind's fate in his or her hands. They just survived. This is not about heroes or cowards. It is about a main character who is special and with that the basic idea behind it loses focus on what is really important.

The movie will make a good deal of profit at the box office. I'll go out on a limb and predict a downer ending that we will see with the Director's cut on the DVD/BD. (The producers think that we can't deal with bad endings and I think they are wrong.)
In the end, I just want to ask a question: Why buy the license if you're not going to use it? Call the movie: Brad kicks Zombie butt and saves the world. No license to pay, everyone knows what he or she is getting and nobody will compare it to the source. To be honest, I would really love to see the movie named "Brad kicks Zombie butt and saves the world" because they entertain me and that's all I want from some movies.

Crisco zombies for moving down the street and Velcro zombies to pile up. ;-)

Personally, I am hoping that whoever came up with the trailer was the one who totally misjudged the story (book and film) not the people who made the film itself. How many times have we seen a misleading trailer? Remember Watchmen? That was portrayed as an action movie but ended up being anything but (the quality of the movie is another issue but its possible this time it has been done right).

The other option is that, like in the book, the central character is not some kind of superhero tough guy or genius scientist, but a journalist. There is mention of one of the interviewees having been behind the propoganda machine that helped humanity get the will to fight back and reclaim their world, and to do that he travelled around a lot. Merge that character with the one writing the retrospective look at the whole thing and you have Pitt's character, Not someone who goes around getting interviews of peoples experiences, but someone who visits the places where those experiences are happening and films it himself to record peoples bravery for public consumption.

I'm just delighted to see Glasgow George Square in a big movie.... Woody (Glasgow funnily enough)

The Walking Dead is a good example where the series deviate so much from the source and is so good

What makes zombie movies and most apocalypse movies cool is not the zombies or the depopulating event, its the breakdown of the human social contract. Regular people screwing each other over and killing one another because of their own innate human survival instincts is what is truly scary. Humans become the monsters in the presence of the zombies.

Sure I don't want to get bitten or eaten early on, but if I survive for weeks I will probably see all my friends and family turn into flesh eating critters. And how awful would that be to survive the initial die off, only to starve to death or get killed by another surviving human in a fight over a can of dog food. That is a way worse fate, that is the real tension in a zombie flick.

Oh yeah, and sprinting zombies are lame. Zombies are predictable less-than-humans that just keep chugging along. They stop and eat. What does a sprinting zombie do when not trying eat people? How would it know not to sprint around? Wouldn't it choke trying to eat and run? The rage-infected zombies of 28 Days/Weeks didn't really seem to eat anyone, their only interest seemed to be infecting others which made no sense at all. It just sort of becomes a big game of ditch 'em or tag.

Super-zombies ala Resident Evil or I am Legend also make for a very different dynamic and tension. The world is over yet and yet the survivors can't fight these bad guys so you have to find the silver bullet. It becomes a whole different genre, more like Dracula or Wolfman. The only way to defeat this completely overwhelming monster is usually some hokey unrealistic plot device at the center Raccoon City, or sunlight, or a sharpened stick in your wood shed. Its an action quest, not zombie horror.

I am still going to see this movie. I'll probably complain about it, but I'll see it.

Not having read the book (yet), I can comment from a purely movie point of view (not being able to compare it to anything). I think the trailer looked good and really makes me want to see the movie. I also think, judging by the trailer that it will be excellent irrespective of whether it strays form source material, but good trailers have turned out to be bad movies so am willing to keep an open mind. If I was on the fence about seeing it before, I am now keen to see it in cinema so to that degree, trailers good is done.

I think in this instance I will see the movie first THEN read the book so I can judge the movie on its merits.

I actually don't think the cgi zombies look that much better than the ones in I Am Legend to be honest. And like IAL, I expect World War Z to be just about watchable, but instantly forgettable as a film in it's own right, but a downright terrible, disrespectful adaptation of a great novel, and mainly a waste of massive potential.

As for the running zombies thing - it doesn't really bother me that much. I'll always prefer the classic Romero shambling zombies personally, but it's more of a cosmetic thing and won't be the dealbreaker between a good or bad film. I'm much more concerned about the tone of the trailer, the laughably bad dialogue, the poor effects work, the apparent complete and utter disregard for the source material etc.

It's totally unrealistic I know, but I dearly wish that studios would be forced to change the title of a film adaptation and return the rights to the author once they have significantly deviated from the source.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not one of those naive fanboys who objects to every single little change the filmmakers make - looking at something like Harry Potter, I believe that the best films in the series are the ones that are least slavish to their respective books, and hence more cinematic.

Though I disagree with it, I could have accepted a more narrative driven
take on the book, with the Max Brooks narrator character becoming the
active protagonist (the Straczynski script sounds intriguing) - but to apparently change the entire tone and story of the book just grates me, because it squanders the license and means we'll never get to see an adaptation done right.

I agree - as someone remarked on Twitter "A rogue batch of cgi has escaped from a lab and we can't stop it".

It's the same with The Day After Tomorrow and 2012 for me - those huge vistas of destruction look so intangible and obviously created in cgi that it just doesn't make any impact on me on a visceral level. Perhaps it's something to do with how those big fx shots are framed and 'shot' in big, sweeping, impossible camera moves that makes them seem so divorced from the rest of the film?

Probably a good way of doing it, I think this way you'll be able to enjoy both. I will probably go and see the movie or at least wait for the DVD release. I am not saying it will be terrible but it isn't world war z. After I finish "John Dies at the end" im going back to WWZ :)

I read the book. No. I am not excited to see that the movie is only an adaptation, but I will still go and see it. To be honest I didn't think they would (or could) go along with the story line. It wasnt a terribly long book, but the story took so many turns that those who didnt read the book would have been confused anyway. Yeah it would have been awesome to see all those survivors in India swimming for their lives only to be dragged down before they could reach the boat, or to see a desolate DMZ (South Korea) and only wonder how the whole deal affected North Korea. The problem with all of that is the only thing that bound those two stories together was the reporter... If you ask me THATS lame. We need a story line, a plot, and an actor to focus on while we are taking that journey. You want to talk about The Lord of the Rings? They had everything I just mentioned lucky for them that is also how the story was written.

Look. At the end of the day you can just sit there with your opinion and your popcorn watch and complain. Because until you get off your lazy ass and start producing films nothing is going to change.

I agree, but dont you think that it would have been far more of an expensive movie if they decided to stick to the book? Besides, I dont think enough people read the book to actually care about how close the movie sticks to it.

This is my thought exactly when it came to war of the worlds, apart from Tripods and a glimpse of the red weed it had nothing to do with the war of the worlds book. Independence day was a good spin of war of the worlds, it was the same plot idea they just changed and modernised it. Why buy World War Z if you're going to make a movie that isn't world war Z? It was a cool title that they wanted to attach their movie to.

People say that slow moving zombies are not exciting but it works amazingly well in the Walking Dead. If you've not read the book please go buy it and read the battle of Yonkers and you'll see why slow moving zombies are just as if not more effective than these fast ones. Not to spoil it but picture yourself in a battle field where you're hooked up to radio to EVERY soldier on the battle field and you can hear the zombies stop to slowly eat your friend. Not charge in quickly kill then change onto the next person.

Just out of interest how does a "Realistic" Zombie move then?......

I still think it would make an awesome Band of brothers type one off miniseries. Very expensive but worth it.

ooooohhh the Korean DMZ bit .............. brrrrrr. That gave me the creeps.

Good call on JDatE. Love that book, picked it up years ago on recommendation. At least the trailer for the film makes it look mostly faithful to the source (sauce?).

Yeah, being a big fan of the book, I certainly suggest not reading it till after you see the film. I know judging a film by its trailer is not good form, but I think they really missed a trick here.

Doing anything new with zombies in films seems to really stump Hollywood and as a result most follow the standard, outbreak, band of survivors, end with a siege story line. Your options then are it turns out okay or everyone dies (i'm over simplifying I know).

It kind of got a brief shot in the arm with 28 Days Later and the fast zombies and Shaun Of The Dead made a success of fusing it with comedy but other attempts to do something different (Diary of the Dead, Colin and the tepid action silt fests that are Resident Evil) failed to really add anything. The Walking Dead as a TV series works because, like the comics, it's able to show characters living in the world over a long period of time.

I can understand then why fans of the book are annoyed to see a novel that had a different take on a zombie outbreak seemingly being adapted into a standard, albeit expensive, been there done that zombie film when they could've spent a bit less and tried something new.

It does seem to echo I Am Legend in taking a fantastic book and removing a lot of the elements that made it so good. You could make a faithful, medium budget I Am Legend that would be so much better if it wasn't trying to accommodate big budget set pieces and the perceived ego of a big star.

Brian: Yes and no, the book is very popular but look at the sudden boom in Lord of the Rings sales after the first movie.

Also I know what you mean about the expense but lets take a look at what WWZ is about, its an oral history of the zombie war. You only get a snap shot of a select few of people, I think the main character in the book who is going around collecting these stories is one of MANY people doing the same job. The producers could have kept the same lore of the land same type of zombies but changed the character to something original, yet another voice from the list of people "who were there"

This way Hollywood could make their movie without stepping on the toes of the original fanbase who lets not forget this movie is aimed at, you don't make a Lord of the Rings movie if you're not planning to attract the massive fanbase that the book had would you? They bought this book because they saw the books following and thought they could capitalise on this in a movie format, and the initial outing is that they've seemed to turn their backs on the very fanbase they wanted to attract. I'm holding out final judgement until it gets closer to the release date, but as of this moment the movie isn't sparking any excitement for me. But time will tell.

Tom I agree Tom, sometimes you need to move away from the source material simply because the scene wouldn't translate well into the movie, especially if the scene has a lot of internal thought going on. What is annoying me about this is that this one man has the key to it all, and plots like this always annoy me because as you know fine and well and as my wife points out (shes has a PHD in Chemical engineering) if you have an idea you can bet your behind that more than 1000 people have had the same thought. So why would it make sense that one man holds the key to the worlds safety? Its just a pet peev I have......I know its a flaw lol!

This movie will make a ton of money from the "shock and awe" of the CG of piles on top of piles of zombies, explosions, weapons and blood/gore. Over all, zombies in general suck. People keep trying to reinvent them but in the Wikipedia page for this movie it said Max Brooks went through a lot of research to make things realistic. Sorry. After watching the trailer he either wasn't involved in the making of the movie or he sold out to get the movie made. The trailer is unrealistic.

This is an interesting. I always thought that it would have been relatively cheap to make a movie closer to the book. Why do you think it would have been more expensive?

Who really cares about the inaccuracy? I'd doubt it if more than 0.1% who go and see the film have even heard of a World War Z book. And for those who want it perfectly accurate to the book what surprises would the film give you if you went to see it?

This is interesting without the "an". Sorry.

In Brooks' universe? That was covered in detail within the Zombie Survival Guide. :D

I really dont get why they bought the rights to the Book, they could have made this movie and called it Apocolypse Z, saved some money, and fury from the fans and probably made more money!

then thats my point why bother buying the name?

Yes I agree - a skilled crew could imply the immense scale of the situation by cleverly choosing what to show and not show the audience. You can achieve a great deal by showing glimpses of something - I'm thinking of Cloverfield/Chronicle etc. I think a film of this kind always works better on a tight budget, because it forces the crew to be creative and imaginative. You can do really interesting things with cleverly integrated digital and physical effects and don't need endless cgi money shots which, as someone else put it - look more like fx showreel footage than believable cinematic storytelling.

There are a lot of examples, but Bourne movies pop into my mind, because after the first one they share only the title with the books and they are great movies. I would even argue that they are better than the books. "Planet Of The Apes", "Blade Runner", "Total Recall", "Forest Gump" etc.

Most of the classic work of Kubrick is based on adaptions that are not very
faithful. It could be even said that greate directors (Hitchcock, Scorsese etc) are often not very faithful to source material, because what works in the book doesn't necessarily work in the movie.

The central thrust of WWZ is that no one person could prevent or slow the outbreak - it was only made possible due to human error, incompetence, fear, superstition, ignorance, greed and petty mindedness.

Thats what I mean Tom, as usual they've thrown a perfectly good plot out the window because lets face it, it hits the mark spot on with how the world works.
Just how war of the worlds is actually about the break down of humanity not that Martians invade they are just the means that allow the human race to rip itself apart just like WWZ

haha I saw what you did there ;)

True, but this was from a time when hollywood didn't have an allergic reaction to "plots"

I've never heard of the book, this looks awesome... and now I might read the book too. Everybody wins?

it doesnt deviate away as much as you think, but I get your point

"If nothing else, the trailer shows just how far computer graphics have come since 2007's I Am Legend"
I disagree. The CGI looks pants and not much better than I Am Legend looked. Maybe the individual zombies could be convincing but en masse they looked fake.

I think the issue is not whether or not it's a good movie - it might be, or it might just be another CGI crap-fest like I Am Legend, we'll have to wait and see - but whether it's a good use of the license. WWZ was popular precisely because it wasn't a "gotta stop them in time!" apocalypse thriller. Because it was different, and tried to take a global view. The trailer and the advertising materials for the movie so far suggest that the studio has either failed to understand why WWZ was popular or knew why and removed those elements to make the movie play better to a wider audience. I've no problem with big-budget zombie movies (the more the merrier!) but this is a horrible waste of a unique license to sell what looks like a fairly standard action movie

The source material appears to lend itself to a faux documentary/found footage style. Do we really need another one of those movies? This looks OK, a nicely epic scale zombie movie.

No need for any make-up on those walking dead then, just film after closing time.

The book was amazing and brought the perspective that zombie fans share. I also think that the movie is going to be different. If it needs to be different so that it reaches a wider audience then that's cool. More people shojld be exposed to the ideals and psychy behind our revolution then that's what we need. Besides zombies killing those mofos the better can't wait to see more death

Yes its nothing new to take a book, make a lot of hype about the film being mad,but then when it comes out its nothing like the book at all.One of my pet hates of book to movie crucifictions is Jurrassic Park. About the only thing in common with the book was the name, some of the characters and settings. People die in the book that dont in the film. People die in the film that dont in the book. Massive missing segments such as the aviary scene, river scenes etc. As for the ending...different again. It was such a mess I came out of the cinema in a steaming temper. I had just read the book you see, and stupidly expected it to follow at least most of it. But No. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkahban. One of the best books in the series that explains massive parts of the back story, what happened to Harrys parents and who betrayed them. Film was missing massive segments, was confusing in the explanations, and to cap it all decided to re design Hogwarts from the first two films, the whomping willow somehow manages to transplant to somewhere else, all the stuff with Crookshanks is glossed over and so on. These are just a few examples...However World War Z is not that good a book. Ok I love zombie books, and films, but the book is so disjointed in its method of telling the story. One minute its a tale about one person and what happens to them, then its about someone else, then another story and so on. Its just a collection of short stories, linked together by the setting and told as a sort of collection of what happened. And I think it suffers because of it. Instead of having characters that live, die and you follow right through the story, its just bit of this, bit of that, and there is no one to really root for or invest in, because they only get a few pages each. Some of the tales are great and it could have been so much better if it been written as a proper book, instead as a collection of ideas about the zombie apocalypse. It matters not, because the film will probably be crap either way. We will just have to keep enjoying the Walking Dead. Thats about the best take on Zombie End of World ever.

You know...its mental when you think about it, how hard is it to adapt a script to a film? I mean the script is there written in the book for Gods Sake! Its a book! Its right there for the producers to read. Just take each characters lines from the book, put them on paper and get the actors to read them out, in the sets that have been designed, by people who have also read the book and have imaginations. By rights, books to films should be the easiest ones to do, because all the dialogue is already written! All they have to do, is make the pictures to go with the words. Thats why Lord of the Rings is so succesful. Because they did not change too much. left 90% of the books dialogue in , and cut out bits of padding and changed as little as possible to keep it faithfull. All you get from producers and directors is excuses. Oh we took that out because we did not like it, we added that dialogue, because we thought it was better, we changed this to make it more dramatic etc etc etc. It translates to this - " I was not clever enough to write it, I did not think of it, so I am insanely jealous and wish it was me that had written it. BUT because I didn't I am going to change it, in order to make a name for myself and to boost my own ego, and to make me feel beter about it, and to prove to the world that I am much more clever and better at everything, and better at telling stories than this particular author." It makes me sick. It makes me angry, and until more people pay attention to the source book etc, this will continue to be the reason why most books to films are no where near as good as the original words written down.

The further this movie diverges from the book, the easier an early re-make of the actual book's narrative becomes. Whatever this film becomes, it is clear that it leaves a faithful adaptation in some other medium - say television - a wide open and near-term possibility.

I somewhat disagree. Books can be well if not faithfully adapted to screen. 2010 leaps to mind. I loved Watchmen. Andromeda Strain remains a classic.

In fact, WWZ isn't difficult to adapt to the screen at all. It's been done. Citizen Kane follows the same narrative structure - re-watch it if you don't believe me. The Godfather shares many of the same nonlinear narrative elements. All WWZ needs is a master storyteller with a gift for maintaining perspective through many (apparently) divergent story threads.

The problem Hollywood had with this story is - I suspect - that while it could be adapted faithfully and in a compelling manner, it would appear very low key on the surface. It would have large, sweeping, epic scenes punctuated by drops back to a room with a chair and the interview in situ. But here is where the tension builds. You keep coming back to the central questions - what went wrong? When did we turn the corner?

As I said, none of this is new. It's been done and done well before.It just takes someone with both the power to thread this narrative needle in a satisfying manner and the ability to persuade others to back your play.

Well, my guess is that Damon Lindelof has ruined another script. First Prometheus, and now this.

I read two drafts of Straczynski's script (one with more conflict with his wife), and they were great! Very successful adaptations of the book into movie form, but apparently they didn't have enough Zombie Physics Simulations for the producers. Idiots.

As a zombie film this looks interesting but as an adaptation it looks awful. The actual book lent itself to more of a TV series format and there's no reason why that couldn't still happen.

After reading the numerous gripes and moans about how the upcoming movie isnt faithful to the source material, i was wondering if people had considered if Pitt's PLAN B will do more with the license after the movie has dropped? First of all, they have to make their money back on what they spent on the license. That's EXACTLY why we are getting a big budget / big spectacle style production with a star like Pitt attached. Gotta claw back that budget and license fee! The narrative of the book doesnt lend itself well to this type of movie so i was wondering if people think we will see a more 'mini series' based approach that's faithful to the text after we've had the tent pole movie offering?

I think that was the idea originally: film followed by series. But I don't agree with the whole 'need big film to pay for licence argument'. How do you explain Game of Thrones then? Arguably a more successful series of books compared to WWZ.

I think the most effective part of the book was the interview with the government official in charge of the retraining the remains of the US population - TV executives having to learn how to do manual labour, overseen by their former hired help, having to relinquish their BMWs so the steel can be used for the war effort.

Bit too close to the bone for a mainstream audience?

Yeah, wait until after you see the film before you read the book. Better yet, get the director's cut of the audiobook, which is out in April. Brilliant voice cast including Jurgen Prochnow, Mark Hamill and Henry Rollins - highly recommended.

Granted found footage is a little passe as a genre in it's own right, but when was the last big genuine faux documentary?

That's a bit of a naive point of view. Books and films are totally different mediums and it takes great skill and judgement to successfully translate a story from one to the other, retaining the essence and beats of the source material while playing to the strengths of each medium. You cite LotR as almost a page to screen translation, which having read the books I would strongly disagree with - the films are very much their own thing. They are however in my opinion very good cinematic interpretations of the books. I would say that one of the modern trends in cinema is adaptations that are perhaps too literal, which leads to strangely episodic pacing, and an unsatisfying "...and then this happened, and then this happened" feel, as the filmmakers try and cram in as much of the book as they can, like ticking things off a list, and I'd level that accusation at (for example) most of the Harry Potter films and Watchmen.

There is certainly a good film or TV series in World War Z, but it would need a substantial amount of editing and revising, and would need to be entrusted with a very skilled writer/producer/director to pull it off.

Thats it exactly, people don't want to see a movie where people are told that they are living their lives wrong and that if/when society came crashing down they would be one of the victims or they would survive to live a difficult life which is more than likely under their self imposed "Status"

But this movie seems to be a action/scare movie, I am not calling it a horror, horror is psychological. You should feel a bit creeped out and locking your doors and windows pulling the curtains when you get home "just in case" after you watch a horror movie something the original Paranormal Activity captured well, or the Japanese version of the Ring (didn't help having a TV at the foot of my bed when I first watched this at 12:30 am one night).

I wonder if Pitt's character, whilst traveling the world, will go on an adoption spree and bring home a few zombies to care for and raise as his own...

That's a good point - I've not read nor even heard of the book before DoG started reporting on it. The title (while somewhat clever I suppose) doesn't lend the movie any cache from the book for me at all.

Reading through the comments already left on the board I have found that most of my qualms with the trailer have already been voiced. I am a huge fan of zombie based movies and books and World War Z is on the top of my list of favorites because it didn't follow the formulaic story structure of "zombie outbreak/apocalypse" that so many others have chosen to go with in recent years. While I think that this movie may have some advantages over other studio movies...ie the budget to show destruction and swarms of zombies like we haven't seen before, I think that in the end it will be seen as just another zombie movie. Even for those who haven't read the book or maybe those who would only go because they are fans of The Walking Dead tv show--I don't see this movie being particularly memorable. As an audience member I want to see more character development and emotionally gripping scenes. Or yes, perhaps a different way of viewing the zombie war (using flashbacks or mockumentary style). We have seen the large scale CGI effects in so many other movies that I was hoping for something different with this one. As many others have said...why buy the rights and not use the source material? I am still keeping my fingers crossed that they at least made an enjoyable movie, but judging from the trailer those who loved the book will be disappointed.

Sorry. Cant say I agree with you. Its not naive, its what people expect and hope for. I stand by what I said. The dialogue is there in the books...just take it and put the pictures to it and you get a good book adaptation as long as the book is any good to start with. You can add in music, add in lighting and atmosphere and there you go its done. LOTR was not a page to screen translation I know, BUT it perfectly captured the books, because they kept the dialogue. I know they added bits, and took the padding out otherwise the films would not have worked as well. BUT, you only have to look at the way they went about it. They got Allan Lee, who illustrated the book, to go into the design process of the films , so much so that when they came to do the tower of Orthanc, he took his own drawing of it, in which you only saw the base, and finished it off so you could see it all, and it went in the film and worked, because having read the book and the descriptions, its what people expected.Howard Shore and his music was superb and fitted it perfectly, adding to the atmosphere. The director knew he had to get it right otherwise the fans would go postal. He cared and so did the actors. If it had been the director of Harry Potter 3, he would have probably made Orthanc out of ice, or painted it pink, or made it a castle instead of a tower, because "it looks better on film" Thats the point I was trying to get across. Ok so it looks better on film, but its described like this in the book, pictured like this in the book, SO PUT THAT ON FILM! And stop trying to do something else because they think they know best! Watchmen got it exactly right...ok so it was not accessible to everyone, but it was bang on the money for the book, apart from the end...WHICH they should have done the same as the book. That was the only thing wrong with it. The section on Dr Manhattens monologue about his accident and how he became the way he is, was superb and book accurate. If you change it too much then it becomes something else "based" on Watchmen etc etc. Anyway I am not going to argue. Thats the beauty of this site and the internet. Everyone can say what they want to say and talk about it. God knows how world war z is going to turn out, but it wont be like the book and will probably go the Jurrassic Park route of having the name, some characters and scenes but that will be it, the rest they will make up as they go along. Judging by the re shoots they have had done, I bet I am not too far off the mark. Shrug..if it comes out and is a good zombie film then thats great I will watch it. If not then its just another Hollywood cock up to go on the pile with the other crapfests. Cheers for the response anyway.

LOL!!! It moves like a zombie...lol. A realistic zombie! heheheh thats funny. I like you. How does a "realistic" zombie move! Lolololol :) Thats one to ask down the pub one night with your mates and get into an argument about! hehehheh Anyhoo...My point of view? How does it move? Well its supposed to be dead. So it should not be dead, then get up and run after you at about 45mph like Linford Christie! Its particularly silly when you get an old man / women who is dead, and a zombie and they run faster than they could have when alive. It just looks wrong to some people I suppose. They are supposed to be slow, and dragging and you can get away from them if there is one or two, but not if its hundreds. Night of the Living Dead is how zombies should be. Hmmmm so what happens in the film of World War Z, if a person who is a top athlete dies? Do they then break the sound barrier as a zombie? Heheheh Sort of like the kid from the Incredibles, they move so fast they can run on water.....heheh this film is going to be craptacular in a so bad its good and its got Brad Pitt in it kind of way. However if its up there with the classics I will be happy to be proved wrong...

Yes it would. But then it just becomes the Walking Dead, but with different characters almost...kind of...sort of...I will shut up now...

I'm a huge fan of the audiobook; which is essential long distance travel material for any self-respecting geek. I'm really not looking forward to this. I'm not really a fan of fast zombies, but I've seen it work. With stuff like 28 Days Later; fair play - they're not zombies - they're infected; the film makers are doing their own thing.

World War Z is different. The slow speed of the zombies is integral in pushing many themes of the book. The Battle of Yonkers is a great example. The military set up a chokepoint, defensive positions and had an abundance of heavy ordnance and ammunition. Predicted crap shoot becomes a disaster due to inflexibility and a lack of solid intelligence. That victory won't seem quite so abject when zombies are lightning fast and capable of forming co-ordinated corpse climbing piles very quickly.

What about personal responsibility and collective innovation? The sprinting dead cause real problems here. In the book, any human can be effective against a slow zombie with the requisite wit and a multi-purpose shovel. I wonder how effective gardening implements would be against the filmic turbo-charged Lichford Christies on offer here?

The big shame is that amidst all the pizazz and spectacle, I've got a sneaking suspicion that most of the best things about the book are going to get lost in the mix.

"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkahban. One of the best books in the
series that explains massive parts of the back story, what happened to
Harrys parents and who betrayed them..."

Don't you see that for books like Harry Potter, severe changes NEED to be made during adaptation, otherwise the films would a) be very boring for the vast majority of the audience and b) be 8 hours long. Personally I think Azkaban is one of the strongest films, because it works as a film in it's own right, while the first two films are in my opinion leaden and a little dull, lacking in pace and weighed down narratively by being too slavish to the (overcomplicated) book plots and overall lacking in visual flair and imagination.

There were certain things omitted from Potter 3 - such as the Moony/Padfoot/Prongs reveal, which is admittedly a shame (same goes for the Dursely's being largely cut from the later films), but ultimately if you're bothered about that stuff, it's information you already know from the books - the majority of the cinema-going audience don't care.

If you go into adaptations expecting everything to be 100% literal, you're always going to be disappointed. Just stick to the books.

Seems the moderators didn't like my post, but if you look up how Max Brooks defines a zombie he gives a full detailed report from various sources on the behavioural, physical and mental capacities of a zombie. All of which have been simply ignored or not even considered for this movie. I can only assume that this is because the movie makers want to make a name for themselves. Max has admitted himself that Zombies terrify him the whole idea of it and he put these fears down on paper and captures it well. The fact that they did not then translate this into a movie when it is captured in such detail is pathetic. I know something do not translate well to a movie this is a natural process and does happen, but to flat out change so much is just simply, stupidity.

Agree with most of the comments here. In WWZ slow zombies are intrinsic to so many parts of the story. The initial spread of the virus is largely connected to illegal organ smuggling. The decisions faced by families the world over whether to stay or flee. Phalanx. The implementation of the Redeker plan. The military response, Yonkers, use of nerve gas in Kiev, the slow fight back, house to house clearance. The list goes on. The trailer looks like a complete move away from the book in both detail and grand sweep. To me it looks like studio execs have tried to come up with a gimmick to differentiate this zombie film from a.n.other zombie film, they obviously didn't realise the strength of the source material. In this case they are going for zombies that are so fast they literally fall over one another in the chase. This could have been effective in a 28 days later type film....But as so many people have said, why not just make a film based on this premise and leave WWZ to somebody who actually wants to realise that story?

Good Job! I was reading our comment and halfway through forgot is was reading a comment and not the article. Didn't realize till the end and said 'Oh Yeah!". Well said sir.

When you read a book, are you done with it within 2-3 hours? Or, if it does take you 10-15 hours, is everything happening 5 times slower? I doubt it. Films travel at a different speed than books. And Tom is right about it being naive to think that any book can be adapted. I'm not saying that it's impossible or that they couldn't have done better with this adaptation, but your expectations in general seem a little too high.

It's also not particularly good.

Enough with "running zombies" already - does anyone know about Borislav Pekic and his "Rabies", which inspired Dani Boyle's creatures and nature of the infection and outbreak - in other words creatures are not "undead" zombies, instead it's pretty much obvious they are mutated humans caused by virus infection, NOT dead! - same as in Richard Matheson's "I am Legend" where creatures are sort of vampire like mutant !

Forget "zombies" for once, even if Max Brook call his own creatures zombies they are something completely different in this film !

Ok, I'm sure I may get bashed for this, however, it seems to me the real problem is in scrambling to "accomodate" the big shot actor they need for star power. It was pretty much stated that this is what happened when the script was re-written. I think the same thing happened in War of the Worlds. It just seems like maybe Mr. Pitt's ego may have gotten in the way. I don't know for sure, it sounds that way. I am attempting to remain hopeful that some of the fan favorite parts of the book find their way into this movie. I know its not going to be exact... yet just maybe, it won't suck.

PS Question: do you think they may or may not have a cameo of Michael Stipe, since he may or may not have been in the book? Do you think the celebrity fortress will be in the movie? I think the latter will depend on how seriously the directors and actors take themselves. ;-)

The problem with Hollywood and making films, is that they don't know how to make movies any more. Think of it as... movies by numbers and being to scared to deviate into actually making original well thought out films, that are basically not self promotion films for the American dream, US Army, US navy, moral beliefs... Just tell a bloody story FFS!! Yes, there are some good ones, but they are so few and far between in comparison.

The vast majority of films are over dramatised for sake of over the top dramatic effect to make effects look cool and keep things... "entertaining" if you must. Promethious is an excellent example of this, rather than the alien ship just crashing (fair enough), it had to roll and balance perfectly and kill the poor lady. I can see it now, the bunch of sad little dweebs creaming them selves over how cool it would be and laughing like Beavis & Butthead, herher herrr coooool.

Then, by and large another problem is the mass American movie goer who probably by all accounts couldn't handle a deep well thought out adaptation of a book like World War Z. Not all, but the couch-potato movie going masses, succumbed to their throw away consumer life styles and exactly the sort of market the film industry targets for profit. Dragging the film industry down in depths of making films for morons, rather than treating the film goer with any kind of respect that they have a brain.

World War Z, is going fall into exactly the same trap, whilst it doesn't have to be exactly as the book was written, it should still hold the same message, feel, overall story and treat the film goer with the same respect as the reader.

Yes I will probably go and see it, but that is because watching a few hours of hordes of zombies killing and being slaughter I can handle, but that is the only thing I am likely to take from the film. Which is shame, because a film true to the book, could make people think and blow that dust of the old brain and put it in to action, raise questions about themselves and the society the live in, rather than following crap spewed out by the media, corporations and politicians like brainless sheep.

Brilliant book, film is going to be throw away trash. I just seriously hope I wrong, but I doubt it.

Why are the zombies running?.....They figured out how to use zombies as a particle effect in Maya and just ran the dynamic over and over again. It's a problem of animators trying out a new technique and producers going 'yeah, lets do that in every possible scenario we can come up with'.

When I first heard about the movie I was excited, because I loved the book, but as soon as I saw the zombies running I knew that they weren't going to make it a "world war Z" movie just a zombie movie with maybe a scene referencing the book. They could have made a amazing movie out of this but it still wouldn't have satisfied all fans because the way we pictured a scene from the book for example "the battle of Yonkers" would have been different from others. Some of us would have walked out disappointed because that was not the way they saw it. Even though it might not have made as much money to begin with they might have made a cult classic because of the popularity of the books.

I just read th book, and I got to say, it's been a really long time since or has got me as invested and engrossed in it as this one! Although I'm kind of unsure about the movie... I remember seeing the trailer first, and I really wanted to watch it (it was motivating enough for me to buy the book!) but while I was reading, all I could think was "this would make an excellent miniseries, like band of brothers or the pacific on hbo... Or maybe just a normal series like walking dead or something... I really wish it'll happen someday, but that may be a bit much to hope for :/

zombies look like crap and was so looking forward to this movie - :/

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