Hailed as one of the most eagerly anticipated films of 2013, Brad Pitt’s World War Z is scheduled to hit movie theaters on the weekend of June 21st. In production since 2008 and originally scheduled to be released in Winter 2012, Z has encountered numerous script rewrites, seven weeks of re-shooting scenes in Budapest, and financing issues.
The movie is based on Max Brooks’ horror novel World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. Brooks was already an established author from his popular 2003 release The Zombie Survival Guide when his story composed of recollections and interviews twelve years after the end of the international Zombie Pandemic became a New York Times bestseller.
How close will the movie preserve the story and the integrity of the novel? Based on the officially released movie stills and trailers, not too close...
1. Tying it all together
In the original novel the apocalypse is over, and the world is trying to rebuild. The unnamed author of the United Nation’s Postwar Commission Report details his frustration with the lack of human factors and personal accounts allowed to be published in the final report. When he shares his argument with his boss that the survivor’s stories must not be allowed to die, he is encouraged to write a historically accurate book. This ‘book’, told through a series of intense, unrelated first-person accounts, is the basis for the novel, "World War Z".
In the movie, the desperate need for coherence and a starring role prompted Brad Pitt to portray one guy, United Nations Employee Gerry Lane, who keeps the movie connected via his real-time zombie experiences. Pitt is the only actor with his name on the movie posters, which is either a demonstration of a very large ego or a cast of total unknowns (sorry, Ed Harris and Bryan Cranston). It’s just as well his name and image are so prominently featured, since it might be Pitts’ star power alone that keeps this movie afloat.
Don’t feel sorry for Pitt- in 2007, his production company Plan B Entertainment outbid other Hollywood big shots such as Leonardo DiCaprio to adapt the book to film. This is his movie and he is calling the shots. But seriously - do all the movie stills have to include him in the picture?
2. CGI Overload
Love the real-life zombies from the AMC TV show "The Walking Dead"? There will be none of that realism in World War Z. Instead of make-up or special effects experts on set, there will be CGI (computer generated imagery) zombies swarming the screens.
Would it have been so hard to make this blockbuster movie with real actors and real make up? Fans value believability, not computer-generated creatures that are rumored to be just a step above video game quality. Be forewarned – CGI is not always cool or enjoyable to watch; anyone who has ever suffered through an original SyFy Channel movie knows that. This component alone could make World War Z a bomb at the box office.
3. Too much Pitt
If only the movie industry could learn from its mistakes.
In numerous stills released for World War Z, movie fans can see hero Brad Pitt battling to save his family. In stark contrast, the novel has numerous plotlines from diverse characters that all seek to understand and survive the zombie takeover. While the movie stills promise viewers endless opportunities to view long-haired, muscular Brad Pitt running from place to face with a look of fatherly consternation in the midst of an undead apocalypse, this might not be a good thing. Not only is the image of a single Caucasian father-figure not true to the vision of the original novel, it seems like we’ve been here before ala John Cusack and his movie “2012” and Tom Cruise in 2005’s “War of the Worlds”.
4. “We’ve lost the East Coast”
Again? Where does it keep going?
Let’s see… we lost the East Coast in 1996’s" Independence Day", and then we lost it again in 2004’s "Day After Tomorrow" and 2005’s "War of the Worlds". In 2008’s "Cloverfield", NYC suffered some damage, plus it is a well-known fact that King Kong has been faithfully destroying the East Coast since 1933.
“We’ve lost the East Coast” is the current tagline from World War Z’s movie trailer, this time placing beloved American cities in zombie peril.
Well… anyone who has read the novel realizes that the action takes place on a global level. The devastating zombie apocalypse is a planet killer, not just a devastator of the countries that oppose US democracy and ideals. To view the released 2013 movie stills, the viewer is left to understand that the zombie attacks are political. Really? Do the undead vote Republican or Democrat? Unlikely. In the novel just about every country on earth is represented, and no one is exempt from cannibalism, genocide, and nuclear war. See a problem here? Yep, us too.
5. Slow vs. Fast zombies
This one has me a little mystified, but apparently nerds all over the internet are really divided over the fact that Max Brooks’ novel zombies are described as slow moving, but Brad Pitt’s are fast and agile. Apparently, this matters.
The controversy over zombie speed hinges on the novel plot element that the slow moving zombies were easier for the world’s governments to contain, thus delaying the spread of the zombie virus. Pitt’s fast CGI zombies are considered a slap in the face of both the novel and of previous zombie cinematic history. The undead have always been slow and shambling, right? If we all pretend that we don’t remember the horde from Will Smith’s 2007 “I am Legend”, then this argument works.
World War Z: The Movie opens in theaters June 21, 2013.
For more information on S.L. Schmitz, visit slschmitz.com, follow her on twitter @sl_schmitz, join her on Pinterest, and like her on Facebook on her author profile page here. Current novel Let It Bleed is available from Dark Continents Publishing and everywhere books are sold.