‘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. They took an interesting and unique approach to the material, and scuttled it for the same old same old. Ugh.

  2. Ruined. I was looking forward to this film. The PG-13 rating was first to give me a bad feeling but I shrugged it off but now hearing how the story has changed combined with the teen friendly rating I give up on it. Might as well add in some vampires and werewolves and get Christen Stuart to act in it to so it can please the twihards.

    • Ha ha “Act”. That’s a good one.

  3. I thought the book was highly overrated. it was an interesting premise and enjoyed the interview style, but it was poorly written. i don’t think it would have made a very good movie without a main character (not counting the interviewer), so it obviously needed to be tweaked. i think if they filmed in the style of say Children of Men, then it could turn out to be a fantastic movie, but i doubt it will be.

    • Agreed. the book was poorly written, got boring after a while and contained many impractical notions, as well a pack of tired clichés.

  4. pass

  5. Totally ruined. I have read the book three times and enjoyed all three run throughs on a different level each time. Brad Pitt has turned out to be the biggest hack actor of his generation. His production company bought it and if he liked the material he should have insisted it stay truer to the source. This new premise completely misses the boat on the purpose of the stories.

    • I will put him in the same league as Matt Damon now, sadly.

  6. I was highly interested but if this is the route they are going…I am done. I understand it happens all the time but that doesn’t mean it is a good thing. HOLLYWOOD: THERE Doesn’t always have to be a stand out hero, romance that is forced on you, many other things. I loved the book and it deserves more credit than this.

  7. So what exactly did people want, a bunch of short stories at about 20 mins each with different actors in each one? As a mini series yeah that would be awesome. As a 2 hour movie, no thanks. Having Pitt play a journalist thats running around the world witnessing first hand the major events from the book sounds like a much better movie.

    I never understood why people complain about books being changed when made into a movie. Even if it sucked you still have the book to read, itll never change. Yeah it would be nice to see a perfect adaptation but thats just not possible.

    • Well said. Couldn’t agree more

    • Yes actually. It would of been a different take on things, now its just another zombie film. It would have run long and there would of been story’s cuts but yes a bunch of 20 minute stories would of been a interesting change.I may still give it a chance but its not looking good. Stupid PG-13 rating

      • Actually it is not. Most Zombie films are about survival, its already played out its course and there appears to be no turning back.

        The write up above seems to be it is in its early stages. Maybe there will be a part two after the War where he goes around interviewing people….

        As I didnt read the book what does the PG-13 rating have to do with anything? The Walking Dead is probably PG-13 and pretty decent with regards to drama/excitement and zombies. Why couldnt it be so on screen?

    • Except that the zombies are super versions who can run and make reverse zombie waterfalls to scale walls… Not to mention they all have complete bodies and don’t look like victims of zombies at all…

    • I absolutely disagree. People have the right to get mad when text to film adaptations are done improperly. Because, it’s not so different. The movie is titled “World War Z” and the book is titled “World War Z”, the only thing they seemed to keep is: Worldwide zombie outbreak, some dude from U.N. “Yup we got it” *adds in metric tons of bullcrap, like a bad actor, sprinting (shock value) zombies, romantic bullsh*t, so basically. WE ARE STUCK WITH THE BOOK SINCE NOBODY WILL EVER BE ABLE TO MAKE A MOVIE OF IT EVER AGAIN. That’s what I hate about a company “buying the rights to something” People who never read the book will love it because “OMG IZ GOT BARD PITT INIT, AND ZOMBLEZ, AND HOT WOMINZ” It’s just not the same, and Max Brooks should have not let anybody purchase the rights unless he had full control.

      • Max Brooks explained that the rights before the book even came out. they started writing it when the only thing. known was there was zombies and a UN reporter. So they probably never read the book

  8. Oh and to answer the last part of the article, the story of the blind japanese dude who kills zombies with his staff and the people turning into cannibals in the canadien wilderness were my 2 fave stories but i doubt they will make the movie.

  9. First I would like to say that I have read the book over 20 times and still find great enjoyment in rereading it. 2nd I have never seen a movie that was close to the true writing of any novel. As a horror fan and a gore fanatic to put a pg-13 tag on this movie is totally wrong. Some themes should be for adults only: war, drugs,
    horror etc. Sorry kids leave adult stuff to adults. The fall of windsor castle, the underwater battles, the sewer rats

    • no country for old men is one of the closest adaptations to a book i have ever seen. a lot of the movie is taken from the book word for word.

    • FALL of Windsor castle?

      You sure you read the book?

  10. P.s. Pls put in the battle of yonkers, the fact of with all there training and military equipment the u.s. Still lost to the undead in that battle is truely visually and morally stunning.

  11. When I first heard there was going to be a World War Z film, I was ecstatic! It’s literally my favorite book and I always thought that it had a very cinematic quality to it. I actually hoped that it could be on TV via HBO or Showtime, but then the news of a feature film with a feature film-budget sounded so much better. Then, it was announced that Brad Pitt would star in it. That only made my anticipation grow as anyone who’s seen him in Se7en or The Curious Case of Benjamin Button knows he’s fantastic in his genre films.
    However, news broke out that Paramount wanted a PG-13 rating, which given the budget, made sense. I wasn’t too happy about that but figured “hey, a hard PG-13 can still work. the book isn’t all guts and gore anyway, it’s got a lot of humanity so I’ll give it a shot.” I was disappointed, but not so much that I wouldn’t watch the film. Then, this synopsis is released and suddenly, this isn’t World War Z anymore. the whole point of the book isn’t to run around killing zombies and getting the girl at the end; the book was about the aftermath of a war that had no winners. it was about how the human spirit was able to triumph after a catastrophic calamity. I don’t want to see Brad Pitt in Resident Evil, running around looking for the T-Virus or whatever it’s going to be that can cure everyone. I want to see a solemn Brad dealing with the horrors witnessed.
    I don’t want to say “oh, I’m definitely not going to see this anymore” but it is a huge bummer knowing that all my friends who haven’t read the book will see the movie and think “oh so World War Z was like every other Romero film, minus the gore” when in actuality, World War Z (the book) is a fantastic, must-read book.

    • that is what i was thinking word for word (especially the resident evil part, i think they should reneame it resident evil and throw in a umbrella corporation and there you go)

  12. god i hate it when people complain about movies and books. people who read the book get so high and mighty because they read the source material while people who just watch the movie adaptations are the “lazy” ones?

    “inaccuracies, inaccuracies everywhere!”

    oh stfu

    • oh and btw, if you guys want an accurate portrayal of “your” book, why not pour in the money and make this an 8 hour movie so they’ll get everything right.

      • I agree that things have to be changed and tweaked to suit a cinematic sense, but the problem is that the synopsis is not only inaccurate it is completely different from the book! If you didn’t read the Harry Potter series but saw every movie you could have a halfway decent conversation with someone about who has. And most people don’t get pissed, I map knees, most just get excited over a film adaptation and are later disappointed.

      • Most ppl that love the source are realistic and understand things need to be changed. The thing with this project, they are changing the WHOLE thing. The book was much more of a drama than your average zombie movie that takes over the world. Movie could of had real depth with these peer to peer interviews with the proper writing and acting. That is why everyone is defending the book, it was different. Might as well just name it something else.

      • they want to make it a series, make it 4 movies. that’s 4 two hour movies “i map knees”

    • Maybe you’re just illiterate and never got past picture books, bud. You don’t need to know how to read to watch a movie, you don’t need critical thinking skills, hell you don’t even need a decent amount of time. Movies are great, but they are not a replacement for literature. So, yes, we are high and mighty. I’ll take my Ernest Hemmingway and Max Brooks before movies any day of the week. Besides, if there is a zombie apocalypse, you’ll be left high and dry, unless you want to ride your fat self on your exer-cycle to power your Netflix.

  13. As a fan of the book this sucks! I’m a huge Pitt fan but this is not the film version most fans want. This is as someone else said Resident Evil without Mila.

    I want the Redekker Plan, the Russian Decimation, the heartbreak at Yonkers! Not a race against time.

    • Amen. That is what make humantiy both heroes and monsters.

  14. Basically, we got a regular zombie movie, except that its pg-13.


  15. It’s a good and unique book but with the right people, it could have been produced for a rather compelling HBO mini series.

  16. This is just lazy. How can a writer/director keep his job after making changes like this? It’s a poor excuse to do less work because they don’t feel like or are not creative enough to finish this film properly. Take a little more time to make a good movie and it may actually pay off.

  17. I’m reading the book through for the third time, and I love it. I believe this current direction sounds stupid however. As others before me have said this is about AFTER the war, and interviewing those that managed to survive. NOT a run of the mil race against time movie that we’re accustomed to. The first thing that turned my gut about this movie was the PG-13 rating. It should be rated R, and should be DIFFERENT from most zombie movies we see today (which isn’t very many.)I would also like to say that I don’t “look down” on those who haven’t read the book. I simply believe they shouldn’t have to read the book, they can just watch the movie instead and still understand what happened in the novel. But as these things often happen, they’ll make a mess of it. These things almost never turn out the way us fans want it to. We’ll all just have to wait and see what they give us. I would say “Don’t F*** this up Hollywood”, but looks like they may have already…

  18. i hope to see yonkers, wheelchair man, and the stranded female pilot (michelle rodriguez all the way)

  19. I never heard of the book until now. But, from the comments and article, sounds like they deviated a lot from the book. Not being a fan of the book, I think the new premise is ok despite its originality

    HOWEVER, I find the pg-13 rating for this movie is preposterous. For that, I won’t make this a “must see” on my list.

    • I know what you’re saying. Right there with you. While I despise this amount of deviation from the novel I can accept it. I cannot however accept a PG-13 rating.

    • Amen dude. I’m disappointed in what I’ve heard so far.

    • so true

  20. Has anyone seen it yet? Stop complaining at least until you see the trailer.

    • It doesnt matter anyway it comes out Dec 21 2012, The Mayan end of the world calendar. So I guess we won’t get to see it.

      • Doh!!

    • I dont have to see it to know it will be ruined. They ruined Wanted. Nothing to do with the original source material. They just took the names of a few characters and that was that. PG-13 Zombie movie equals Blowage!.

    • my freind is part of it and says it looks like 28 days

  21. hey guys check out this new footage of brad pitt with these cool looking military guys. i think this footage explains itself thats is going to be more action oriented

  22. If there’s no mention of the Redecker Plan, I’m out. Otherwise I can be flexible.

  23. My concern…is Brad Pitt…. this is more of an underground “cult” thing… of all people? Brad Pitt?

    • WHy is it a concern? Pitt is a great actor…

    • An underground ‘cult’ thing? How is a New York Times Bestseller ‘underground’? Especially when it has a huge budget and has been generating buzz nearly two years before its release?

  24. The book has such an amazing, geo-political, global scope, even if the writer lacks clear, distinctive voices in his characters. Changing the movie to a race against time? Ugh. A love interest? WTF! Lame choices, Hollywood. I really don’t know how Brad Pitt the action hero will manage to cover the renegade Chinese submarine, the astronauts in space watching Earth crumble, or the work release programs in post-war Cuba. I haven’t abandoned all hope – yet. Just goes to prove that the book is ALWAYS better than the movie.

  25. Blame Paul W.S Anderson, he started the entire zombie shootfest movies…

    Why can’t they stick to the original.. Zombie films are not about the zombie apocalypse.. it’s about the survivors who cope with what’s happened and the situation that either turns them to do good or become the worst..

    Much like Romero films and the walking dead series… Stick to the book even though I never read it.. With this much fuss of fans, I’m with them. It’s okay to change some things in the movie, but don’t rewrite the entire story…

    Look what happened with resident evil.

  26. Marc Forster is directing this??????? Then it’s already dead in the water.

  27. Why can’t people understand that the narrative of the book, simply wouldn’t work on screen, it had to be changed. Plus I thought all of you lot loved it when films deviate from their source material, or does tha only apply when a certain director does it?

    • LOL@Doc..

      Way to slip that jab in mate. Loved it.

      By the way, I’m going on record as saying I didn’t really care for the book… well, large parts of it at least. The zombies on the ocean floor really got my goat.. and that tanks were useless. (why shoot when you can just run them over??)

      • I wouldn’t want refuel a tank with zombies crawling all over it.

        • LOL@Guillermo,

          Neither would I! Seriously, they can go a very long distance without the worry of refueiling (no matter the size or model). An Abrams Main Battle Tank travels at 45MPH for up to 275 miles.
          In the meanwhile, they’re running over Z’s. It’s all in the tactics though.
          Anyway, that’d make a short book and even shorter film. ahah.

  28. i will still see the movie, and complain then. but…why did hollywood take the olny zombie story not told in the usual format, and then homogenise it into something that sounds like any other zombie flick ive seen over the past 20 years?

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