‘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. I think I read somewhere that it will be made into 3 movies? I’m not sure what the director is pulling, but why is it called World War Z if there is almost next to nothing from the original source itself? The only comparable thing is that there are “zombies” in both.

    • Hollywood does this thing all of the time. When the first ever Sherlock Holmes came out, they had him running a regular American style detective agency with a row of secretaries and a switchboard operator.

    • how can you say that there is next to nothing from the book when you havent seen the film yet KC? True it focuses on Pitts caracter during the war and not as the book depicts after the war but hay ho. I think Max is wringing his hands with this one in anticipoation of the rush to buy his book because of this film. I read it in 2007, a year after it’s release and have been waiting for it’s release on film since then. This film unlike any other ‘zombie’ film is gonna shape the genre for the future. It started with Romero and Max has brought something extra. The seens of ‘global’ catastrophy look awesome. I dont think I have ever seen a film that is exactly like the book but as a TRUE ZOMBIE FAN i will defenitely be going to see this one and cant wait for another installment from Max Brooks.

      • Have you seen the trailer? 1st the zombies run. 2nd. They are CG, which takes away from the horror. Watch “FIGHT CLUB” and then read the book.

        • The movie is total departure from Max’s vision. I love his work and he stays true to the zombie fandom. They’ve completely bastardized his work. I was looking forward to the moive, til I saw the trailer. It looks like Hollywood is just churning out the same old crap. Coat of Arms is right.

      • If you hope this piece of CG trash “shapes the future” of zombie films, you’re an insult to every TRUE zombie fan out there.

        This film is an insult to the book and and the in tire zombie genre.

  2. KC – Funny you say the only thing the book and film share are zombies.
    I’m no longer sure this film has zombies anymore. They act nothing like them.

  3. I am going to miss every part of the book. Should of been a hbo series. Im still excited for a new zombie movie being a massive fan of zombies. but this movie is not going to be the book in the least. but Ive come to terms with it. 6 months after it comes out, it will just be another movie we forgot. its too bad. but we will always have the book.

  4. I was very excited at first, thinking that I could show my husband and stepson exactly what was so awesome with the book. Now I am disappointed because they will judge the book by its lame movie that really has no storyline in common. And the zombies didn’t look like the type of zombies described from the book, but whatever. It’ll be an interesting zombie movie to watch, though I wish that they would rename it and just say that it was adapted from World War Z. Definitely won’t go to see this in theatres, but might rent it after it comes out to dvd.

    • Why not just tell them to READ the book? Are they illiterate or simple?

  5. Looks like the seven additional weeks of reshooting wasn’t enough and more reshooting is currently taking place in London. The producers obviously know they have a stinker on their hands but can’t stop tinkering in the hope they can turn it around.

    It is unlikely the will ever learn the lesson – they bought a well written book and mistakenly thought they could make it ‘better’ by changing everything. They are digging themselves a deeper hole.

  6. steupssss the book explored so many controversial subjects like media manipulation and racism, now it’s gonna be a token action/horror flick…. hollywood is pitiful for not having the balls to make real movies when a chance comes by

  7. Not sure I agree with this. World War Z was a great book, but how could you possibly turn it into a Hollywood movie? The shift of focus from multiple short first-person accounts to a single person was inevitable and expected. I think the trailer is quite powerful and interestingly different from previous zombie movies. If the film (or films) does depict an initially failed war, as in the book, I won’t mind the move to a single protagonist and the choice of fast zombies. If it becomes the story of Pitt managing to prevent the apocalypse, I will be really disappointed though.

  8. The story about the refugees surviving in the woods up north. Braving the cold. That’s my favorite part in th book and I don’t see it transferring to the film :-(
    Excited and disappointed at the same time. This shouldn’t be called Worl War Z. Cause it isn’t. Make this movie (cause it looks fantastic) but call it something else. “Zombie Wave” or “Holy s***, Zombies!”

  9. I think this will be a phenomenal film, as there has never been a zombie/horror film of this scope and magnitude ever made, since they all have just shown bits and pieces of the global effects, while World War Z plans to show it all. Now, this will only happen if the trilogy is made, so hopefully the trilogy is a ‘go’ because this movie (and its sequels) will only be as good as the book if it captures the overwhelming intensity and realism, which it looks to do. I’m a HUGE fan of the novel, and i must say, for how powerful and incredible the book was, you truly can’t adapt it the way it was written; the spark of genius would die off the moment the film starts, as the book was made in such a disturbingly real sense, with the reader picturing in their mind what the world looked like, but for a film it has to be seen as it’s happening. The luster of that idea (if it was adapted the way the book was written) would have failed; sorry other fans

    • Oh, and about the title, it fits perfectly; this is a WAR film. The violence, even with zombies ripping people apart, is still filled with warfare in an action-packed manner. Now, what i foresee with the ending, if Drew Goddard writes the last film himself, is it ending where the book starts; a reporter going around and interviewing the survivors, starting with Gerry. That would be absolutely incredible, you have to admit; having the reporter talking to him as you see a city in the background, smoking from the endless fires and being rebuilt, with Gerry thinking about how it all could have fallen down if he didn’t step up

      • What a great way to look at it. That would be so awesome if it went down like that.

    • The only thing worse than having this movie come out would be if we were somehow, unfortunately, cursed with having too endure two more sequels. I suspect they will lose so much money on this first one though that their ideas for sequels will quietly be swept under the rug ala ‘X-Men: Origins’.

  10. Let’s see, things I hope are included:

    The subtle humor, like the white house press secretary shoveling dung in a world where he has no function and Bill Maher boning Ann Coulter on the floor as their stronghold is overrun.

    In addition to the Yonkers scene, which I think you can see in the trailer, I really hope they do the first major “post-panic” engagement in the desert with the fifteen hour firefight. It seems like the “superhero” zombies have the potential to screw that up.

    That and the focus on the little details. One thing that I would really be heartbroken about is if they don’t include the feral girl with her eerily accurate zombie impressions.

    I don’t know, there’s so much to screw up. Where can they even begin?

  11. The whole book is based on the premise of slow zombies and the idea of total war…. All of the characters and scenes in the book are based on that simple premise. Fast zombies change everything…. This makes me so mad tonhe

  12. For some reason, science fiction, fantasy and horror authors have always been easy marks for Hollywood. Look at what they’ve done to Robert A. Heinlein, Issac Asimov, Charles Beaumont, and countless others.

    There’s no way to stop this movie from coming out. The Brad Pitt juggernaut is unstoppable in that regard. But there is something we can do to make the film unprofitable so there will never be any sequels.

    Don’t buy any snacks at any theater showing this movie. This is where theaters make their money. If you don’t buy any snacks, the theater won’t make any money. If the theaters don’t make any money, it’s not likely WWZ will have a long run, and it’s doubtful that Brad Pitt will make any sequels.

    So if you want to protest Hollywood raping a beloved book, this is the battle plan.

    • Your f****** retarded!

      • your usage of “your” should actually be “you’re” and you are calling others retarded! haha!

      • we are retarded? you are using “your” when it should be “you’re” as in you are…

  13. I looked at this and got mad. Then I looked at it again and went …Hmmmm.. Then after the third time I watched the trailer I made my own guess. The one story we never get is the authors. Aside from doing the documentaion of the stories 10 years after the war. What exactally was he doing during the war? He obviously survived it from beginning to end. I think this is his story. Thats how we get 3 movies out of this. Still hate the turbo zombies.

    • I agree. As I was reading the book I was wondering how he survived the zompocalypse. This might just be “his” story.

  14. After viewing the first trailer and then reading how different the star’s roll is from the original story line, I became disappointed. The book was outstanding, believable and extremely original. I do not think I will go see this movie when released… such a shame.

  15. I met Max Brooks at UW Oshkosh, WI…,Very smart, funny guy. He talked about his admiration for the
    George Romero and his dislike of fast moving zombies. He must be mortified by what they did to his awesome novel.

  16. I met Max Brooks at UW Oshkosh, WI…,Very smart, funny guy. He talked about his admiration for
    George Romero and his dislike of fast moving zombies. He must be mortified by what they did to his awesome novel.

  17. I understand that Max Brooks has stated he is reserving his comment for some time in the future. The only comments from him so far are that the movies producers were ‘uninterested’ in any input from him and that for his own sanity he wasn’t going to monitor the extent of changes they make.

    He has only referred to the film as having the same name as a book he once wrote.

    I expect he will keep a dignified silence until after the movie has run it’s course.

    • I read on a site via a link via another link via ANOTHER link that this story is about the NARRATOR of World War Z… HIS story. Which made PERFECT sense after I read that. Fast zombies …no but we’ll see where it goes.

    • Are you like 14 or like something?? OMG this movie is sh*t. Do you thin the guyz frum the walkin dead will be in it too? OMG sosoooooo coolz

  18. I am sad to see that what made the book so great is not how the movies is going to portray it. What made the book great for me was the personal accounts from so many different points of views. I think the stories of personal survival and how individuals got through it was the most enjoyable moments of the book. One of my favorite parts that I am sure I will not see in the movie was the part where the lady in the cabin was guiding the person through the Louisiana swamp. I knew who the person was the whole time but it still was a fantastic part.

    So often in movies that deal with disaster on a global scale, I always find myself asking the questions like, how are people on the other side of the world dealing with this, what is happening over there, how are they fighting it. The book was great about answering those questions.

  19. This really should be a 6-10 part miniseries, self enclosed stories based upon the best chapters in the book. Short beginning, then on with the complicated message. We already have crap like Resident Evil, we don’t need another.

    • I agree with this concept. I saw WWZ being adapted to the look and feel of something like “Band of Brothers”. I saw the interviews being transated into narrated vignettes that form the tapestry of the elements leading up to the Great Panic and beyond… you know, like the book itself. This probably couldn’t be done on the big screen, but HBO or Showtime could have really done this masterful take on the genre the due adaptaption it deserves. You could have whole episodes “airing” the war films described in the book like “Victory at Avalon” and “Fire of the Gods”. I’ll hold out hope that the tinseltown treatment does the book justice, but what I’ve seen from the trailers leaves me with the slightest trickle of hope. I hope our collective fears are proven wrong!

  20. The CGI looks to have evolved from “I am Legend” which looked like iRobot CGI only skinned differently. Initially I was interested in this but now I’ll wait for it to hit NetFlix. If they would take their time with the story and developing the characters it could have been great. But looks like another slam, bam, thank you mam movie for the oblivious masses. I’m sure it will make lots of money. Like the last Pirates of the Carribbean movie. I was half way through that movie when I realized I “got f@&$ed at the drive through”.

  21. Thinking more and more about this… I don’t mind certain changes to the aspects of the book, like the behavior of the zombies (super fast movement) I think it just makes it more intense for the movie. The problems I find is that there is just SO MUCH story in that book and so many directions it can go in. This truly needs to be a movie spanned out to multiple movies.

    • Ya, like duh, when you like die, your muscles dont stiffen up or anything. You actually are able to run really fast. Like duh, you didnt know that?. Super intense!!!


  22. I just watched the trailer. Then I sat on the floor in the corner and cried. Please, someone help me do a fan movie….

  23. I love how everyone will hate on this movie until it comes out, then pack the theaters for weeks, watching it 50 times, and then say it sucked and the book was way better. You know it’s exactly how it’s gonna go down. The books always better if you read it first, your imagination is going to be better than any movie… And watching a movie that strays too far from the book won’t ruin anything.

    I’m excited for it, because I’ve read the book enough times and raved about it to enough people, I want to see it come to life in a big production way, not like nearly every other low budget feature.

  24. this has strayed from the get go… anyone who has read the book, it has nothing to do with brad pitt saving the world. it takes place 12 years after the zombie wars and is based on the tales of the survivors. the zombies did not move 90 miles an hour (see: zombie survival guide), so this movie has taken a great book and jacked it up. not saying the movie will suck, it is not “World War Z”… it is more like “Brad Pitt vs. the Hollywood Zombies on Speed”

  25. Here’s where it seems the movie is promising, ill for once post something positive:

    The trailer shows an actual global stage, not just a local struggle will allusions to global catastrophe

    The trailer indicates a concerted effort to turn the tide or stop the spread of infection, AS WELL as indicating a massive failure to save lives

    The trailer is of course sensationalizing the action, as any wise marketing would. But it doesn’t mean it won’t be addressing the issues max was trying to convey with his book.

    Yea I’m not mad for running zombies either. And I didn’t see zombies running up walls in the trailer, I saw zombies climbing up a pile of zombies. Look closer.

  26. Here’s where it seems the movie is promising, ill for once post something positive:
    The trailer shows an actual global stage, not just a local struggle will allusions to global catastrophe
    The trailer indicates a concerted effort to turn the tide or stop the spread of infection, AS WELL as indicating a massive failure to save lives
    The trailer is of course sensationalizing the action, as any wise marketing would. But it doesn’t mean it won’t be addressing the issues max was trying to convey with his book.
    Yea I’m not mad for running zombies either. And I didn’t see zombies running up walls in the trailer, I saw zombies climbing up a pile of zombies. Look closer.

  27. I have been wanting to read this book so bad. I actually have issues with zombie movies bc they give me nightmares(Some zombie fan I am)! I’m not at all surprised by running zombies bc that is where the bar has been set now. Yes, Walking Dead has slow moving zombies, but it is horrifically horrifying to see fast moving ones. I’m not saying it’s right, but I’m not surprised. Plus you know people would see it as a link to Walking Dead or a copycat if it was the same in that respect and may be less likely to see it. I think this movie may or may not do well for one reason: we are obsessed with apocalypse everything and either want more or are sick of it. My one issue with this movie w/o reading the book: Brad Pitt. Why? He can do it, but his personal life over shadows everything he does for me. Coulda been anybody, why him?

  28. I hope they don’t cut the North Korea story. That was the biggest ? in the whole book!

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