World War Z – No Longer an Oral History…

World War ZIn 2007, Plan B Entertainment (the production company owned by Brad Pitt) acquired the rights make a movie of (the sequel to) the book that one could argue ably say returned zombie to popularity in 2003. World War Z. Long time fans were excited. New zombie minions groaned with anticipation. And then we heard very little. For a while. Then we heard about early leaks of the script, which all looked promising. Faithful to the book. Starring Brad Pitt, which is never usually a bad thing. Excitement abounds! Then Paramount brought another writer in to rework the script. And that’s when things started going downhill.

Paramount, in a press release earlier this month laid down the plot outline for the World War Z movie, slated to be released in December, 2012. And it’s not the book. It’s barely related to the book. Infact, I’m not even sure I recognize any of the character names from the announced characters. Any many, many fans are unhappy about this. I have yet to hear rumors of boycotts, but I’m sure it will happen. You see, fanatics are a fickle group of people. They like things to be exactly the way they want them to be. It’s a slippery slope movie companies have to climb when making an adaptation. On one hand they want to remain faithful (hopefully) to the source material. This makes the fans of the original work happy, as well as the creator of the original work. On the other hand, they want to make money. This is kind of the point of backing a movie (sadly). And when you a cater a movie to the people who were fans of the idea in the first place, you tend to alienate everyone else. So they have to change things to try and make a movie with broader appeal. Sadly – this is difficult to balance, and most production companies lean more towards money making than remaining faithful. So we get movies like World War Z, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (which I still like), and… anything by Uwe Boll based off a video game

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But, returning to World War Z… You take a book that is originally a “Oral History” of the zombie wars… with a interviewer meeting with various people discussing the actions they took and things they witnessed during this zombie war… and you collect these stories into a narrative. Excellent premise, great result. Now take World War Z the movie – A UN representative racing against the clock to stop the zombie pandemic from destroying the world. Stereotypical zombie movie. Guaranteed to fill the box office (if people aren’t sick of zombie movies by now). And also a stereotypical action/thriller. Nothing new, nothing innovative. Boring premise, great result (if the only result you’re looking for in ticket sales). So the original fans get screwed.

RedNow… obviously this doesn’t mean the movie will be bad. Many great movies are based off of other media and make drastic changes to the source material. Just look at Red, a movie based off Warren Ellis’ short comic. They had to make changes and add material because the comic was a oneshot… there wasn’t enough material to base an entire movie off of. But they did a fantastic job and made a good, enjoyable movie, that remained faithful to the feel of the comic. And of course there are others. But with a book like World War Z, which is a best-selling novel and has garnered thousands, if not millions, of fans – why deviate? The book is already an amazing tale with a strong fan base, why change things? Well – movies are of course a drastically different animal than books. It’s easy to be entertained by a book about someone interviewing people. In a movie though… that’s about an hour and a half of two guys sitting in a chair talking. I wouldn’t really mind that… but a lot of people would.

So on one hand there’s an action/suspense movie of a man racing around the world trying to stop a zombie apocalypse from happening. And on the other hand… a bunch of phenomenal actors sitting around being interviewed about a zombie apocalypse that was diverted… Personally… I’d like to see both made. But I wouldn’t call the first one World War Z.


About Ian E. Muller

6 responses to “World War Z – No Longer an Oral History…

  • jenn

    are you suggesting that the only way they should shoot this film true to the book is if they just have it with one on one convos?? prob getting a lot of this but…. its called flash backs. Blamm

    • ravnos

      Well, I’m not directing the movie. But if I were, honestly I’d probably set it up much like the book, like a mock-documentary with the Interviewer sitting down one on one with each actor and discussing it with them, with each conversation shifting into a flashback. Which make the film far more accurate to the story, but give an appropriate amount of action, suspense, and horror.

      I think the mock-documentary style would be most appropriate for the book.

  • dedmanproductionsllc

    A framework comprised mostly of one-on-one interviews may lead to a varied story with multiple perspectives and a richer and deeper experience, but it si hard to reproduce that in a 2 hour block. Besides, almost all hollywood flicks lean to heavily on the importance of character arcs and the progressive flow, though very, very simplistic, to ever really consider doing what would need to be done to make an accurate representation of the book.

    If you wanted an accurate telling, an indie studio could’ve done it, though you wouldn’t have the budget for the flash, eye-candy effects, professional crew, and so-forth.

    I hate to see how much they water the film down to something that only pretends, but it is like a “dead” spider under a my girlfriends cosmo magazine, I just gotta look.

    Here’s hoping they don’t turn it into a zombie comedy like shaun of the dead or zombieland.

    Btw, If you dig zombie comedies then you might enjoy Zombie Hunter, it is an irrevent documentary on an incompetent zombie hunter.

    It would mean a lot to me if you checked it out.

    Thank you,

    Jesse Dedman

    • ravnos

      Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland are both great movies.

      My issue with World War Z is it’s, literally, a completely different movie. Just call it something else. Because it’s only about 5% of the same plot.

  • john

    last that i heard about it, which is recently, it has him flying around the world interviewing people. When i say him i mean they are literally flying brad pitt and filming around the world. im guessing its gunna be say “starring brad pitt” but really only show about 15/20 mins of him in the film and the rest will be “recreations” of the war.

    • ravnos

      Check the links I have in the article – According to them that is what they were originally going for, but that’s now what they are doing anymore, sadly. If it was that I’d approve highly.

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