As a stand-alone zombie movie, World War Z gets a B. As a book adaptation, it gets an F. If you’re a fan of Max Brooks or Zombie literature in general, don’t approach the movie as an adaptation.
Apocalyptic movies have a familiar theme: Worldwide chaos, hero goes on a journey to find a solution, loses everything, discovers a secret and saves the world at a great personal risk.
Brad Pitt delivers a convincing performance of a father doing his best to keep his family safe while refusing to accept defeat. Pitt’s relationships with the others feel real, and he goes to lengths to help others he meets. He goes all over the world, from Pittsburgh, to Korean, to Jerusalem and the transitions are smooth. I never felt lost or confused, and the dialogue flowed well between different locations.
Unlike many zombie films, the main characters don’t look uncomfortable with their roles. It remains serious while dealing with a ridiculous subject.
The music and sound track isn’t overused. The film lies on visual spectacles and character emotion to convey the tone of the scene. The zombies aren’t cheesily lumbering, nor are they super monsters. They look, appropriately, like a disease that won’t be stopped, regardless of how many guns are present. Some may protest that the zombies are fast instead of the traditional shambling corpse, but I didn’t have a problem with it.
Now, while I appreciate World War Z as a movie, I can’t accurately say it was based on the novel. I really like Brooks’ book; I even bought it when it came out. It’s a good companion to “The Zombie Survival Guide” and can be re-read easily.
World War Z is good compared to other zombie literature because it doesn’t focus on the zombies. That sounds odd, but bear with me. The book is not a story; it’s more like a collection of memoirs from individuals reporting what happened during this worldwide destruction they lived through.
The text addresses political breakdown and how those in power respond to equalizing chaos. Religious thought and traditional morality breaks down as people report how society broke down. Economic, social, and personal issues are brilliantly touched on.
The characters have depth and present a variety of different attitudes and opinions we can easily relate to. Finally, the book tells how humankind fought back and why, how society builds back up, and how far they have to go.
The book is a genius of a social commentary and uses zombies to communicate important messages.
The movie is “Brad Pitt running from zombies.” There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact, it’s now one of my favorite zombie movies, but it bears absolutely no relation to the book. No lobos, yonkers, Russians, castles, documentary film, nothing.
Don’t discredit World War Z as “another zombie movie.” It has an engaging storyline, and the pacing is done well.
That being said, the title is completely misleading. I don’t understand why you would buy the rights to a best-selling, well-written zombie book with great ideas, themes, and original situations, then not use even one name from the source material.