World War Z, the novel by Max Brooks, holds a special place in my top 10. For those of you who haven’t read the book, go do yourself a favor and buy the book right now. It’s a collection of stories, told from every perspective you can think of: a young child, a geek, a soldier, doctors, a blind gardener/monk, and even an astronaut. Each story, while personal and moving, also paints an overall, realistic picture of how humanity goes to the brink of extinction, and yet somehow (read the book and you’ll find out how…) fights back. The book isn’t just about our fight with the zombies. It’s also about how the world had to give up a bit of its humanity in the name of survival.
The movie, on the other hand, is about one man, Gerry Lane, played by Brad Pitt, who is tasked by the UN and US government to search for cause of the zombie outbreak in the hopes of discovering a cure or weakness that will help humanity fight back. One man to save them all, if you will.
One of the first things that irked me about the opening credits was seeing the words “based on the novel…” World War Z (the movie) is “based” on the Max Brooks’ novel the same way golf is “based” on hockey. Yeah, not so much. Friends have told me that’s how it works in Hollywood, but what’s the point of doing that? Why not just give the movie a different name and just hold onto the rights until you’re ready to make a true adaptation? This movie was so different from the original novel that it could have had a different title and I’m sure it would have done just as well in the box office.
The movie isn’t terrible. It’s one of the most visually impressive zombie movies I’ve seen to date. Seeing New York up in smoke, as well as the battle scene in Jerusalem really hit home the fact that the world really was going under. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a huge number of zombies fill one shot.
Story-wise, the movie fell very very short. Everything you need to know about the movie is in the synopsis. There’s nothing really special about Lane except that he’s highly regarded by some top level UN official for having the “power of observation.” He is sent with a team of Special Forces and a top level scientist to find the cause of the zombie outbreak and to possibly find a cure. There’s no character development or anything likable about Lane. His only drive throughout the entire movie is to follow the government’s orders under the threat that if he doesn’t cooperate, his family would not be allowed to stay in a protected facility. The movie was trying to push the point that Lane was a good guy. Who doesn’t like to see the good guy surviving till the very end and saving the world? That’s all that matters, right? Who needs scientists when you have Lane?
I feel like the whole point of the movie was to showcase a new “innovative” type of zombie. The movie establishes from the onset that the outbreak is caused by a virus that causes the zombies to swarm upon the human population like ants on a picnic. Oh, did I mention they also make bug-like clicking noises? Strange, I know.
Without giving too much of the movie away, Lane found a single cure that at the very least gave humanity a hope of winning the war against the zombie hoards. I didn’t like it. It cheapens the zombie experience. The very reason why zombies are scary, for me anyways, is the fact that your options for hiding from them are very limited.
I’ll be honest. Max Brooks really did affect the way I watched the movie. Not through World War Z, but his other book, The Zombie Survival Guide. The author was very thorough when it came to his views on surviving the zombie apocalypse. He touches on everything from the types of weapons and gear you should carry, how to use them, and how to conduct yourself in this type of world. Here’s a hint: try to make as little noise as possible. Zombies are attracted to sound. It pained me to see the movie break so many rules from the survival guide, or even outright ignore some for the sake of the story.
If you’re looking for a zombie action movie to watch this summer, go ahead. This movie definitely fits the bill. But if you’re like me, and you’ve read World War Z or you are a hardcore zombie enthusiast, this movie will frustrate you to no end. Save your money.