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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

World War Z Movie Review - Nothing Like The Book

I'm not sure if it is fair to judge a film based on the book from which it was adapted but I'm going to give it a shot.  I read Max Brooks book "World War Z" and really loved it.  It is set years after a global war against a zombie apocalypse.  The book is a series of flashbacks by scientists, military personnel, civilian survivors, politicians, etc. describing their experience during the war.  By the end of the book you have a really good idea, what happened, why it happened, where it happened, the strength of humanity, the flaws of humanity, why some survived, why many didn't, how the war was resolved, etc.  Pretty fun stuff and fairly plausible in a, well, zombie kinda way. 

The problem I have with World War Z the movie isn't that it lacked good acting, great special effects, thrills, chills and spills as it had all of that plus some. The issue I had is that the film didn't follow the book at all.  Instead of a movie chock full of brooding interviews interspersed with mega-produced, exciting wartime flashbacks (like the book more or less does), this film relegates itself to being too mainstream of a format.   Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is an elite UN investigator  reluctantly torn from his family and enlisted to find a medical cure to resolve the zombie issue.  Of course, along the way he becomes increasingly filthy and desperate (like Bruce Willis in Die Hard) winds up in a medical lab trying to solve a medical mystery (like Will Smith in I am Legend) while facing zombies that run at Olympic sprinter speeds and take no issue with slamming their faces into thick glass windshields  (like 28 Days Later and, again, I am Legend)   

If the screen play followed Max Brooks' book we could have been watching an epic war movie that arguably would have been one of the most unique of its kind.  Instead it relegates itself into an amalgam of already used ideas and mainstream movie formula. 

Also... if you see this on TV someday, turn the volume up  so you can hear the news reports droning in the background on the zombie uprising. Clearly these are intended to be heard, yet I could barely hear the reports over the chatter of the characters and the soundtrack.  C'mon Brad turn up the TV. Fortunately I read the book so I could deduce what had happened and leave the rest of the audience to fear early onset hearing loss.

So, if I take the book out the equation, is it still a good movie?  How about this? I'd watch it again if someone bought my ticket. The special effects are second to none without feeling forced. The acting is good (no Oscars here though). The pace is fast, the atmosphere is suspenseful and the mood is very, very intense. 

World War Z isn't the first film adaptation that doesn't resemble the book and it won't be the last. This isn't a criticism of a bad film (it isn't) but a wistful musing of what could have been. 

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