‘World War Z’ Movie Debate: Too Different From the Book?

Published 4 years ago by

World War Z Movie Book Differences World War Z Movie Debate: Too Different From the Book?

Paramount’s World War Z has been gaining notoriety lately, ever since set pics of star Brad Pitt started hitting the Net. The adaptation of author Max Brooks’ ‘oral history of the zombie war’ has always had a question mark hovering over it, since the format of book involved a U.N. employee interviewing survivors of the zompocalypse about their experiences.

That’s a tricky narrative format to translate to film. Director Marc Forster could’ve snagged some great dramatic actors for a movie made in the style of a faux documentary; however, a lot of people figured that the World War Z film would go the route of, say, Interview With a Vampire (also starring Pitt), with U.N. worker Gerry Lane’s (Pitt) survivor interviews being the frame for flashbacks to grisly zombie war action. When fans learned the movie was leaning toward a PG-13 rating, they figured the aforementioned format would still work, only with less grisly zombie war action.

It now appears as though the World War Z movie will be a far departure from Brooks’ novel.

We cited the Paramount press release for our earlier report on World War Z‘s release date, but it was other sites like /Film and Movies.com that first picked up on the bombshell packed in the film synopsis that came with Paramount’s announcement:

“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.”

Clearly this is a massive change to the story. Brooks’ book explored – among other things – how the world would or wouldn’t be able to cope with a massive disaster like a zombie apocalypse. The sci-fi/horror premise was a great allegorical frame for a lot of relevant political, social and moral questions. This movie is basically your tried-and-true (and often failed) race-against-time action/thriller. You probably wouldn’t even bat an eye if were to lie and say that Roland Emmerich was directing.

This “tweaking” of the story is also a massive change to the character of Pitt’s U.N. employee, who in the book is a man trying to research the global catastrophe to try and gain some perspective on it and what it has done to humanity. In this movie, he’s basically the reluctant hero who must overcome insurmountable odds to save the world (and just maybe… the woman he loves).

Look… This stuff happens all the time in Hollywood. Books, old films, foreign films, comic books, board games, toys – even websites – all have their likeness funneled through the Tinseltown machine before a lot of them get spit out the other end as flat sheets of cinematic bologna. Why pretend to be surprised that it’s happening to this book?

The only question is: Are you still interested in this project? Or is it straying too far from its roots to be worthy of your ticket money?

Fans of the book: is there a particular scene or moment you worry will be missing from the movie?

World War Z will be in theaters on December 21st, 2012.

Source: Paramount

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  1. It looks like some shills from Paramount are pushing the movie on us.

    • EXACTLY!!! i didnt wanna see the vampires from 40 days of night as my friggin zombies ! that was probably the worst part i coulda lived with the rest…

    • i agree with u also i think if they had something simmilar to the book it would have been to long for a movie
      maybe a mini-series or soemthing also this movie was so stupid the only things i remeber that were in the book was u.n. israel and letting people into israel and that chinese doctor the one who got bit in the flash back. i think the stupidest part was how that idiot shot himself.

  2. ok i was a little harsh the movie was good but it wasn’t Max Brooks’ movie it was the directors, and it wasn’t the book at all mostly

  3. This movie is dull, dull, dull. It is hackneyed and trite and, therefore, just perfect for the masses that will sing its praise.

    Here’s the movie’s formula: Take the basic storyline from Contagion and 28 Days Later, smash them together, insert idiotic, laughable zombies and one of Hollywood’s elite to star in it, get Jon Woo to direct it, and you’ve got WWZ.

  4. I never even once figured that the movie would be just like the book. It just wouldn’t work as a movie unless you want a bunch of short films put together. The point of the book was to offer a ton of different viewpoints onto the whole story and because of that it wouldn’t make a cohesive narrative film. I might even say that I wouldn’t want to see it like that because all I would expect is a bunch of shallow blood and guts collection, or just a bunch of interviews. A single main character makes it so we have a story and person that we can follow, which keeps our attention throughout the movie. The PG13 rating just took away the extreme violence which sometimes ruins zombie movies rather than makes them better. The movie gives little idea about the book, but keeps enough to earn the title.

  5. If you liked this movie you are weird.

    • I liked the movie, only because I went in knowing it had nothing to do with Max Brooks & watched it as entertainment only.

  6. First off. It’s not a zombie movie! It’s a world epidemic movie. The infected are called zombies due their resemblance to zombies!
    Second, no book adaptation, or videogame is ever made 1 to 1 to it’s source material. For starters book rely on your imagination to fill in the blanks. How could a movie ever compete against that?
    And lastly it was a great movie, for those of us that are not desensitized to gore porn. Or sat down in the theater with pre conceptions.

    • Really? Game of thrones books are very close to the television series. They didn’t make huge, ridiculous changes like most Hollywood films love to do.

  7. good movie star ‘World War Z’ Movie Debate: Too Different From the Book

  8. 2 seperate entities all togeather. Hollywood (i.e. Brad Pitt) saw a band wagon & jumped on. The biddding for it began back in 2005, 1 year after remake of Dawn of the Dead. I assume you’ve read the book & seen the movie if you are here. Movie has its own type of zombie that as a virus would in an infected body (the earth) attacking the host cells (humans). It does portray a shocking way millions of zombie would appear. Other zombie movies have maybe up to 100 zombies on screen & the sheer hopelessness of being able to do anything but run is not felt. Land of the Dead did have lots of zombies, but there are so many problems with that movie, I can’t go into it here. After visiual effects, the movie has really no other standing feature for zombie fans & is geared for mass public. The book, meanwhile plays on what makes good zombie material. They are there as an effect, but the real story is how humans deal with sudden change, emotion, dealing with others opinions & beliefs of others when combined in forced constrictions. If the movie has more central characters conflicting with each other other than 1 person running about I feel it would have made better story base.

    • Not to Jump Ship too far, but speaking of Land of the Dead, I think the biggest glaring Pot Hole in that film was how important money was to everyone. The last thing that would have been important was money- and thus the whole situation it was based on made no real sense (but it had plenty of other problems).

  9. It’s a shame really. I’d not read or even heard of Max Brooks till WW Z trailers turned up, and that prompted me to read the book. The movie looks good for a movie, but having now read the book, I am just disappointed that they made it the way they did. Definitely they should have stuck to the multiple perspectives and recounting of the apocalypse, and then weaved them to include Brad Pitt and his character into them. At least that’d stay somewhat true to the movie. But no, they had to alter it so drastically that the only similarities were [some] locations around the world and UN on a ship.

  10. The film in question was worse than chewed flesh forced out of a Zed’s rectum. But then true fans knew it would fail.

  11. Pliny – I remember that book! But then you could say the same for almost every military fiction/sci-fi work . How about Tom Clancy’s “Red Storm Rising”, for example? I remember this sci-fi novel called “Their Master’s War”. Brilliant well-written book, with a galactic setting, myriad of races and two conflicting galactic superpowers, but at its core just a Sparticus storyline. And where do we draw the line between ‘great minds think alike’ and plagarism? So the concept is similar, is it plagarism?

  12. World war z movie is nothing like book I’m surprised they went that way. I understand why for Hollywood but it ruins the fact that it should have been the best zombie movie since dawn or my fave day of the dead. Why not remake that one? Do it props.

  13. Well, IMHO this movie lacked a few great scenes from the book: Battle of Yonkers, Battle of Hope and the Post-War America.
    And did they really need to pull an extremely stupid deus ex machina?

  14. I have NOT read the book and still thought it was a boring movie filled with cliches and a terrible story. I love Bead Pitt, but this movie was stupid beyond all logic.

  15. Ahem! And furthermore! Both WotW and WWZ show the greatest and most technogically advanced (at the time of writing, respectively) nations. The U.K in WotW and USA in WwZ having their the technical superiority in warfare count for nothing against brutal blood sucking advanced Martians/teaming millions of flesh hungry slow moving painless fearless merciless Zombies. Whether it be Bacteria for one or a ‘Lobo’ for the other, Hollywood has a hard time waving the flag if it means showing the home troops getting their asses kicked through fear and bad leadership! Bad for morale don’t ya know. $-).

  16. just saw the movie. ive read the book twice and all i can say is that the movie has absolutely NOTHING to do with the book (other that they share the same name).

  17. I’m watching the movie as I type this, and I tried to read that desperately boring book…I have to say the movie is far and away the better iteration. The book was dull and dry and uninteresting. I get that some people would prefer the book, I”m the same way with almost every book I read that was made into a movie. But in this case, arguing that the movie sucks is a losing battle.

  18. Having just seen it on blu-ray, it’s an okay film on its own, a little too PG for my taste but done well enough, though I can only imagine had it played out with its originally intended 3rd act that it would have been less a crowd pleaser.

    What I have to say about book translations is that you definitely will have the crowd that wants a faithful adaption of a written work, and frankly, if you use the name of the source material, that’s the crowd you probably should aim to please. If you can’t do it justice with a film, do it justice with a mini series or full series, and let the merits of those talents connected make or break the project. Things like Y the Last Man, World War Z, Walking Dead need more than a one-shot to convey the scope of their worlds.

    As for the zombies, I’m of the middle ground. I believe a zombie should take more than a few seconds to be produced, adds a bit of drama, especially in seeing loved ones somewhat slowly transition away from your loved ones. And I believe that a fresh zombie can move at a distance pace, but hopefully not olympic sprinter speed with ninja or catlike pouncing and kill abilities.

    • Actually in the book, it takes a full 24 hours for an infected human to make the full transformation. Solanum (the biological agent that creates zombies in the book) has stages.

      As far as the movie goes, I found it disturbing how not one, NOT ONE human was ever killed as the result of an actual zombie attack. Yes you can argue that biting and infecting a human in this film can be considered killing them. This is false, infection is not death, it is a alternative state of life. In the book, a zombie could take massive amounts of damage to put down. Short of a head shot, a zombie would keep on coming. In the movie, simple small arms fire to the chest was enough to bring one down for good.

      The fact remains that nothing in the film correlates to ANY of the source material. Some vague similarities does not an adaptation it make. It was a mildly entertaining epidemic film, in the vein of 28 Days Later, I am Legend, or The Crazies. Though it had no zombies, no human deaths caused by zombies (think about that). Every human who died in this film dies as a result of some other human, themselves, or an accident. Sad but true.

  19. If you want to expierience one of the best possible pieces of zombie literature ever created, please read WWZ. Between that and TWD (comic book of course) resides the most amazing possible read, zombie related.

    • While I didn’t experience anything like you describe from either I am Legend or WWZ (I thought both films were weak), I certainly do understand where you are coming from.

      These two films are not very good in my opinion, but it is 100% true that you will get more out of a horror film if you go into it allowing yourself to have a good time and have an open mind.

      Not many people do that. They go into a horror film almost daring it to try to scare them. I see the same thing at commercial haunted houses. Instead you should watch the film the right way in the right environment.
      Turn out all the lights and have the right attitude.

      I tried this idea with two films- the sequel to The Thing and The Woman in Black. I ended up liking both films but especially Woman in Black.

      I’m not saying this would save WWZ because it’s hard just to get past Brad Pitt, let alone the film’s other problems. But try it sometime on more of an indy horror film!

  20. I just watched the movie on DVD and I really liked it. Movies are a very different medium from the written word, they’re visual–and it’s very difficult to tell the story in the same way given those differences. Essentially you can’t, and it’s not fair or reasonable to expect it. Personally I feel that the interview or voice-over film is over-rated and overdone and I think the filmakers made the right choice. I would have found the other approaches boring–those approaches in a film remove the viewer from the visceral effect of being in the middle of the action in a way that doesn’t occur while reading a book, taking away from the immediate intensity. I thought this was a very well done Zombie move–the way the zombies threw themselves into action regardless of consequences REALLY creeped me out (especially the scene where they’re coming over the wall) and was far more realistic than most zombie movies. In fact this type of behavior would be consistent with an organism that alters the behavior of their “hosts” (an example is a fungus that takes over an ant’s brain and makes them essentially offer themselves as prey to the birds that eat them and then serve as the next part of the “zombifiers” lifecycle) in order to perpetuate itself. The zombies’ behaviors make perfect sense—and the movie was very good at following biological precedence and it’s own internal logic. This was a very different and more realistic take on the usual zombie movie and I greatly appreciated that fact. Boring? HARDLY! It was very suspenseful, with good character development, a pretty realistic response scenario, and enough action to keep most adrenaline junkies engaged. So what if it isn’t exactly like the book–it is a decent story in it’s own right. Frankly I’m surprised at the negative feedback on this page–many people really liked it, I’m far from alone.

  21. I haven’t read the book, but man the movie was horrible. I didn’t like the fact that every little thing happened when Pitt shows up and how the hell did a zombie sneak in a plane and why is it that it’s only Pitt and his friend survive a plane crash that killed everyone else.

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