The movie World War Z is absolutely nothing like the book. Now that’s out of the way, it is still a decent zombie movie.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks. I read the unabridged version, listened to the audio book, and prayed they would make a blockbuster movie some day.
I imagined seeing on the big screen one of my favorite parts of the book. The Indian coastline of old decommissioned ships filled with thousands of escapees trying to flee the Great Panic, being ripped apart as they are towed out to sea in a spectacle of mass pandemonium as the entire coastline lay burning in the night. Hundreds of people falling into the sea, zombies nipping at their heels from underwater as they fight to stay afloat in the wake of massive sinking ships, and everything going to shit.
Sadly, along with many other excerpts that rattled my thoughts for months after reading, those scenes weren’t in the movie.
As a fan of the zombie genre, Does that mean it was a bad zombie horror movie? Absolutely Not. World War Z is an decent film that managed to refresh the zombie formula.
5 reasons you’ll still like World War Z
Undead, rage zombies
What you say? Thats right. Typically you have two types of zombies: the “infected” (28 days later, I Am Legend) which are humans basically infected with some kind of super rabies or rage virus, and the “undead” (Night of the Living Dead, The Walking Dead) which are your traditional, brain eating slow-movers. Now enter World War Z, where the zombies are some combination of both. People are bitten and infected by the virus and become insane, raging undead, who perform such feats as hurling themselves off building tops only to get up and run on crunched, broken appendages to make haste after their victims. Before you say “It’s just adrenaline from the rage,” see if you can find the definitive one second scene revealing this conclusion. They are indeed, undead.
Zombie hive mentality
Where World War Z has refreshed (or redefined if you wish) the genre are the zombies’ hive mentality. Like Amazonian ants zombies run and crawl over each other’s backs, clump into zombie mounds so others may climb upon them to overcome obstacles, and basically flow like water through the streets and over barricades making it impossible to “outwalk” them. Hurling themselves into gunfire and off rooftops in a cockroach-like nerve-driven responsiveness, they care only that at least a few penetrate any obstacle to infect the humans and grow the colony. Also, the zombies do not feed on humans, nor eat our brains. We are simply bitten, infected, and left to turn. It’s a refreshing amendment to the existing, generation-old formula.
Action starts immediately
Forget character development up front while waiting for the action to begin. World War Z plunges you into “the shit” just minutes into the movie with the infection of downtown Philadelphia much like Saving Private Ryan plunged us into World War II with the storming of Normandy. The “traffic jam” scene from the trailer where all Hell breaks loose is literally minutes into the film. No similarity to your typical Walking Dead episode here.
Yeah, yeah ladies it stars Brad Pitt. You get to see him run around splattered in blood for 116 mins and emerge victorious against all odds. Honestly though, Pitt is a good actor and plays the role well. He even convinced me that the UN is actually competent which is quite an achievement in itself and a testament to his acting ability.
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Daniella Kertesz really shines as Segen, an Israeli soldier assigned to Pitt. Sporting a shaved head and full military gear, she stomps zombie ass like Sigourney Weaver stomps aliens. I look forward to seeing more of her in future films.
Still not perfect
Although the movie is wholly different, you’ll still find a few nods to the book here and there. I was, however, disappointed that the “Lobo” weapon was not one of them. I visualized the contraption from the book at least 5 different ways and was excited to see how it was represented in the movie. But instead it was nowhere to be found.
If you are a gore-monger, World War Z may disappoint. There isn’t really a lot of gore. Even network TV shows like The Following and cable shows like The Walking Dead are several notches higher on the gore scale when compared to World War Z. After all, most horror films these days try to maintain a maximum PG-13 rating for better distribution. I’m convinced that long-gone are the R rated (Halloween, Scream), NC-17 (Evil Dead, Saw) or X rated (The Hills Have Eyes, Dawn of the Dead) horror classics of our youth.
World War Z, like most movies of late, definitely ends with room for a sequel. Could this be our saving grace for a book adaptation? In my opinion the movie should have been titled World War Z: The Great Panic, with a sequel named World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War shot interview style with Pitt this time 10-years after the first movie and true to the book. But whatever, Hollywood is Hollywood.
All-in-all I found World War Z to be an enjoyment, but then again I’m a die hard zombie fan. There are plenty of panning reviews out there which rip apart the plot and acting as if comparing it to Citizen Kane or Casablanca.
Regardless, if you are a fan of the zombie genre, I’d say it’s a must-see. But if you’re looking for something to move you like Sophie’s Choice or The Way We Were, World War Z is probably not for you.