‘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

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


1 3 4 5 6 7 12

Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. I saw the trailer and had my hopes for this movie thoroughly crushed. It looks like every other doomsday movie that gets quickly forgotten. They could have had a memorable movie, unique in its format.
    The only way I’ll watch it is when I won’t have to pay for it.
    I’m going to stick with my well worn from multiple readings, signed copy of the book

  2. OKAY! So I am not sure I can care about this movie anymore. I reallyyy like the Interview With a Vampire frame of mind, and I really hoped it would be like that. Although it is true that translated the book to film would be an insurmountable effort and it stands to reason that changes must be made. However, there are so many powerful scenes in the book that I think would really capture the audiences. The part about the otaku in Japan, or the woman who raced through the zombie invested forests, injured, with nothing but radio contact as her aid, or about the family who resorted to cannibalism. Or even the foreboding tone of N. Korea’s disappearance freaked me out. Those were all incredibly passionate moments. Not to mention the political overtones creating an expose’ on government and just humanity itself. Those elements made the story. A lot of people read, sadly, and if they had framed this movie a little more like Quentin Tarantino and a little less like Michael Bay, we really could have something that captured audiences and provoked thought, something moviegoers don’t often experience. I’ll probably go pay the homage to the genre and see this movie, but I’ll still feel let down. /sigh.

  3. I love Max Brooks’ World War Z and I have been looking forward to the movie for a very long time. Pure disappointment ran through me when I saw the trailer. Had I not known it was a trailer for World War Z, I would have never guessed. I agree with rachello, a book has to go through some transformation before making it to the big screen, but this is TOO much. It’s unrecognizable. Huge disappointment. I wonder if Brooks knew how much they would distroy his wonderful story?

  4. For those complaining that it’s nothing like the book – It isn’t possible to make a good movie based on the format of the book. Several short films, a TV series or a web series, yea sure, but not a 2hr movie. Keep in mind that trailers can also be deceiving. Remember Adjustment Bureau? The trailer was so action packed but the movie was primarily a romance story. As of right now all we know about this movie is what we see in the trailer. It’s definitely possible for it to still stay somewhat true to the book. Obviously not the format, but with the characters. Maybe Gerry meets some of the characters in the book and goes through the story line. Who knows? Now I’m not saying the movie is going to be incredible, but there are going to be a ton of trailers coming out with new footage and more info so save the criticism for when you know more. Right now all I’m seeing is people complaining about how the movie just pooped on the book after just one 2 and a half minute trailer and very little info.

  5. This is a huge disapointment. It has become a Will Smith movie without Will Smith. Might as well change the name to i-Zombie or I AM ZOMBIE… You’ve got to be kidding me. Why does Hollywood ruin everything?

  6. If you cannot do it properly just don’t do it!

  7. One fatal flaw to consider also is the fact that in the trailer the zombies all have complete bodies. One would think if they can scale walls at amazing speeds that they would literally tear their victims to pieces… Yet every zombie in the trailer had a complete body… Go figure.

  8. This needs to have Yonkers, North Korea closing up shop, and at the very least General Raj Singh!…otherwise i’d rather watch Transformers…

  9. Was really looking forward to the first battle with the new army, the effect of the cherry pie rounds. Also T Sean Collins experience in the ‘survivalist wet dream’ mansion.

  10. Hilarious comments guys. I love all the people that say they won’t see the movie! That is such a lie! All of you zombie nerds will be there opening night despite the fact that they changed the story for the movie!

    • lmao too true. I am very disappointed that the screenplay has apparently veered so far from the book. However, I think the movie looks really good. When Zed really does come, if they move that fast we’re all screwed. Just sayin’.

  11. Hilarious comments guys. I love all the people that say they won’t see the movie! That is such a lie! All of you zombie geeks will be there opening night despite the fact that they changed the story for the movie!

  12. So, who’s gonna help me do the reboot? We’ll make the Kickstarter page and we’ll do this right. Greg Nicotero for effects (Because f*** CGI, Jurassic Park had better effects in ’93), Max on creative consultation, and not a single running zombie.


  13. If you can’t or won’t read and think that CGI effects for their own sake are ‘neat’ then this is the movie for you.
    The trailer shows Rage Infected People who seem to be filled with helium. They defy gravity like only badly thought out special effect can. It reminds me of the behaviour of ants swarming – just not something that heavy human bodies are capable of.

    And what about the lame family interaction with Pitt inside the car? That was terrible. If this is the best they have to show from the useable 58minutes of footage so far filmed then the movie will suck big-time.

  14. I am a Zombie fan and have been since the original Night of the Living Dead. On a small scale Zombies are terrifying. The problem I have with Zombie apocolypse storylines is that they are completely unrealistic. Zombies taking out the U.S. Military? Not even remotely likely. I get what this movie is trying to do is to create a more credible apocolypse scenario via fast moving, swarming Zombies that overwhelm by shear number and relentless drive. I am disappointed they didn’t stick with the book. This looks to me more like a prequel of the book.

  15. The trailer looked pretty exciting to me. I thought the book was great, but they obviously would have to change the story to make it a narrative that could be followed on screen. Maybe we will see some of the characters from the book in individual scenes? I do hope they leave the Chinese doctor at the beginning and Yonkers to me is a must as the failure of govt. to properly react and also the media showing celebrity stuff. I did notice when i watched the trailer that the Israel business made it in, but looked like they managed to scale the walls in the movie version, unless i’m misinterpreting what i saw with the pause button. i saw also a nuclear blast, so maybe at least India/Pakistan made it to the screen! anyway, if it doesn’t follow the book i will probably still see it, i just hope it stands on its own.

  16. they spend 200 million turning an impossible book into a movie and you guys refuse to spend the cost of two coffees to go see it?

    id like to see your script for a global zombie breakout that addresses every social failure and success that DOESNT immediately get turned into a made for tv documentary. This book was passed around and its been waiting a long time to see the screen, and if all the brains that finally got the job done cant satisfy your idea of a perfect movie, youre only going to get disappointment.

    I understand there are going to be a lot of changes to make this work. There are parts of the book that i realize wont make it onto film. But ill be satisfied if the movie sticks to what the book was really about: a social commentary. how are various societies prepared for a devastating outbreak? If you think about that instead of your idea of how zombies should act, youll be more enthusiastic about seeing it.

  17. What all us fanboys are angry about is that Plan B (Pitt) bought the rights to the movie and then just changed everything. Now they’re is no chance we will have a little HBO mini-series or even a show made about it. They could’ve made this movie without the rights and probaly even more people will see it since a lot of people are boycotting it. So please no more comments about us being happy about an impossible dream.

  18. I don’t see the point of even using the name “World War Z”. They are not even using the source material.

    Really, really lame.

  19. Then go watch walking dead, a soap opera with the occasional zombie.

  20. The movie is not after the book.

    while the book and movie share the same name the movie in it’s current state is only resembling the book in name. The plot is completely changed from post war report to prewar prevention. Not to mention, in the books, it is clearly mentioned the zombies are slow-moving, which had some serious plot points that will be impossible in the movie.

  21. Get over it. It’s not like the book. Beyond that. Can the movie exist on its own? Sure, for a very short period of time. Like most movies, it will fade into nothing more than “remember that zombie movie with Brad Pitt?”. The only thing I find interesting from the movie is the running ant-like zombies. I don’t need en entire movie for that. Give me 20mins of that and I’ll be happy. All I am looking for is 10mins of happiness.

  22. Think about it slow zombies almost taking over the world, they would have to be fast runners to have an impact on large groups of armed people.

    • It seems you DO NOT have the mental picture of thousands and millions of zombies walking toward a way smaller army… being overrun by a Horde…

      That’s the thing that took the world on the book…

      they might be cool… for any other movie name…

      I would totally agree to if they change the name to anything but world war z

  23. Pretty disappointing. I read the book in a less-than-twenty-four-hour period because it was so engrossing. I understand that the narrative style of the book may or may not translate well to the screen, so the method of the storytelling may have had to undergo some transformation. Fine.

    What I don’t understand is how any of the stories in the book, from each individual survivor tale down to the entire global catastrophe, makes any sense or isn’t going to be completely different from the book given that the book deals with classic shambling horror zombies and the film clearly deals with Rage Zombies. A blind Japanese gardener beats shambling zombies, but does not beat Rage zombies. A malnutritioned computer geek who gets ahold of a katana beats shambling zombies but does not beat Rage zombies. A downed pilot with a broken ankle in a swamp beats shambling zombies but does not beat Rage zombies. The military at Yonkers is cocky and gets subsequently overcome when fighting shambling zombies but should not be when fighting obvious Rage zombies. People in old fortified castles in Europe can beat shambling zombies who turn to zomsicles in winter but cannot beat Rage zombies who can horde-pile up and over walls.

    In summary, the shark has been jumped in this book to film triple rewrite.

  24. I think what disappoints me is the fact that Hollywood got ahold of this! Had World War Z been bought by an indie company I think there would be a lot more aim for accuracy to the book vs “look at all the shiny shenanigans we came up with.” Had they called it something else people would be a lot less irritated.

    Look at I-Robot, a lot of die hard I-Robot fans were angry about the movie; was it a bad movie? Hardly. But they would have been better off re-titling it to “The Caves of Steel” that would have been a bit more accurately titled, but I digress.

    Sure I will go see this movie, but at a 5 dollar showing during the week vs the 11.50 midnight showing.

  25. I think the part that ruined this for me the most is that they went with rage zombies like I Am Legend. That’s not what any of Brooks’ works are about. They took his ideas that worked and just threw them away. The great part about his works are the fact that he shows that a mass of slow moving zombies could overwhelm anything simply due to their nature. The sheer panic that seeing a wave of them coming at you and freaking out due to the small and moan would demoralize any group, even most Soldiers. Making them run and jump like hyped up bath salt users makes it turn from a thriller that I would want to see, to just another new age zombie movie that I’ve already seen in several other places. Good job to the writers for ruining something that could have been done better to just push computer graphics, mass explosions, and all kinds of other nonsense. Might as well have given it to Michael Bay and just told him to make a movie with zombies, explosion, and some people going from one place to another.

  26. The trailer makes the movie look awful

    The zombies look like tilde waves

  27. Smartest comment yet, that is exactly what the zombies look like. ↑ Especially since when they were mowing down with machine guns they were crashing like a wave

1 3 4 5 6 7 12