I’ve just watched the trailer for the long awaited movie adaptation of World War Z and I am thoroughly unimpressed. If the trailer is accurate than the movie will be awful. I expected a lot more from a movie that has been in development for so long, has a star studded cast, and is based off such rich material as the World War Z novel, unfortunately it seems to miss all that made the book good. There’s no real spoilers below but I will go into detail for some of the World War Z novels most interesting stories.
Why did the film makers need to give Brad Pitt’s character (Gerry Lane) a family? His character in the novel had no family. Clearly the film makers are going for a separation arc which will culminate in a tear jerking family reunion after Gerry survives many dangerous tribulations. What benefit will the movie gain from introducing a wife and kids if the only role they will play will be to narrowly survive a zombie apocalypse before being reunited with their hero husband/father? I hope that the filmmakers aren’t trying to turn World War Z into some kind of family friendly film because that will be a disastrous move.
A huge red flag for me when watching the trailer is that it sets the movie at the beginning of the zombie apocalypse and then follows Gerry throughout the worst of the Apocalypse; when the book takes place 10 years after humanity has won World War Z. I realize that setting the movie during the war will add a bit of suspense as to whether humanity will be able to survive, but my fear is that the movie is focusing on the war in order to set up Gerry Lane as the hero who will find a way to save humanity and win the war. There’s no problem with having an action thriller set during a zombie apocalypse but World War Z is not based off of an action thriller book.
The book was an in depth look into the various ways the War affected different nations across the world, there was no hero who swooped in to save the day. Humanity came perilously close to extinction and was only saved by a series of incremental advancements in strategy that took years to work. If they focus on a single hero the movie will have to abandon many interesting story-lines.
The Russian story-line was a chilling, it focused on an army mutiny that was brutally crushed by dividing soldiers into groups of 10 and ordering them to select and shoot one of their own. If the unit refused they would all be killed. This is the definition of decimating, killing one in ten. Imagine what a powerful scene that could be, watching a close knit unit having to decide which one of them would get to die. And we also get the perspective of an Orthodox Russian priest who worked as an army chaplain and realized that it was sinful to force infected soldiers to kill themselves. His solution? Priests would kill them as an act of mercy and take the sin of murder upon themselves. How cool would that look on screen? As we later learn from the priest, his order was co-opted by an increasingly authoritarian Russian leader who now rules the State with an iron fist. No need to make him up, just show us a few posters of Vladimir Putin and we’ll get the idea.
And I’m sure they’ll cut the South African story-line. Facing complete disaster the ANC government is forced to turn towards a former apartheid official who advocated completely cutting off white population centres from blacks in order to prolong apartheid rule. The government is forced to adopt the plan after Nelson Mandela intervenes, an intervention which stuns the racist official. Certain areas of South Africa are converted into safe zones while the rest of the country is left to fend for itself. And they’ve cast Morgan Freeman to play America’s first black President, why not have him reprise his Mandela role from Invictus instead!
It seems that Gerry will be working for the American military as some kind of troubleshooter. Which again is different from the book where Gerry is a journalist working for the UN a decade after the war is over, charged with interviewing various key players. What skills will Gerry Lane have that make him so important to the military? It doesn’t look like he’s going to be some kind of biologist or medical doctor which are really the only professions that could possibly be of any use in discovering a cure for a zombie virus. What the hell is Gerry supposed to do? Interview his way to a cure? How is he supposed to travel all around the world collecting stories when the world as we know it is violently collapsing?
Keep in mind that in the book almost every world government has lost control over most of it’s territory. Iran and Pakistan have destroyed themselves in a nuclear war, and China has a civil war that is ended by a massive nuclear strike! This is why the book is set 10 years after the end of the war, when it is finally safe again to travel.
The biggest flaw of the movie trailer is it’s stupid zombies. The movie can’t possibly be good if it’s antagonists look like and act like angry sprinters. In the book it is specifically mentioned that zombies are slow moving. Yet in the trailer they charge with the speed of a long distance sprinter. I think it’s a very troubling sign that the filmmakers believe that we won’t be afraid of the zombies unless they move as fast if not faster than we do. Have they not seen the Walking Dead, one of the most popular shows on television? The zombies on the walking dead are as slow-moving as can be, what’s scary about them isn’t their speed, but the fact that they are undead killing machines that feed on human flesh. That’s all the movie needs to do to scare us; show the zombies eating some poor souls.
All that being said, I still will end up seeing World War Z in theatres when it eventually comes out. I hope that my fears are misplaced but I have a feeling that i’ll just be able to copy and paste my complaints from this trailer review to the actual movie review.