World War Z Movie

Earlier this week I wrote up a quick note about the Max Brooks book: World War Z. Honestly it was a bit tough to do because a lot of what I wanted to post dealt with the comparison of the book with the movie. This will be the last of the three Max Brooks posts. (That is until World War Z 2 comes out.)

Let’s start with the posters.


Of the three posters I’m posting here this is my least favorite although it is a pretty accurate description of the movie; Brad Pitt flying around looking worried.

The poster on the left is probably the most recognized though the one on the right is the more satisfying image. This also seems to show one of the more interesting parts of the movie, the swarm. One of the great ideas Brooks introduced in the book was the fact that zombies never stop, hesitate, slow down or rest. They go, go, go. If there is something in front of them they will try to get over it. If there is a whole or a cliff looming they might even just walk right off the edge in pursuit of their target. This means they will climb over each other and pile up in horrifying swarms. It’s a great visual that worked well for the film and probably one of it’s strengths.

The Good:
The effects and “look” of the movie are pretty well done. There is a nice feeling of realism that tries to emulate the book’s practical approach. We don’t follow survivors on the street but the organized government, or what’s left of it. In most zombie flicks and stories we see how quickly everything falls apart, the government collapses and the world goes to hell. But for as bad as everything gets in this story, we actually have the glimmer of hope that someone out there might be able to get their stuff together enough to actually make an organized response.

One thing that was explained though not shown in the movie that seemed a bit of an improvement over the book was the explanation for North Korea. In the book everyone just “disappeared” which doesn’t make any sense at all but in the movie it’s told that forced tooth removal prevented the disease from spreading. (Never mind the MASSIVE swarms that could have gotten in via the Chinese border.)

The Bad:
Notice how short the “good” section was?
Yeah. Me too.

Although I like the realism of the movie, the credit for that really goes to Max Brooks. Brooks book takes the story into the real world in a way that most other stories like this don’t as I mentioned above. The problem is the movie ditches in the most obvious way. WHere the book follows the main character around as he interviews people and gets their accounts of the war ten years after the fact, the movie follows that same character around the world as events unfold.

I can buy a character collecting the accounts of others and piecing them together to figure out what happened, I find it impossible to believe that one person simply happened to be in the right place at the right time in spots all over the globe. Like how he just “happens” to be the first one to see the zombies coming over the wall in Israel, survives a plane crash within walking distance of the WHO lab he was trying to get to. Okay, yeah, it’s a story telling device but so is going around collecting other people’s anecdotes. The difference is that one device works quite effectively and the other one doesn’t.

The zombies in the film will wildly swarm all over buses and walls, buildings and people yet if someone has a terminal disease they will all completely ignore that person. How a zombie manages to identify that a potential host has a deadly disease is a bit of a mystery. There are literally thousands of swarming zombies in a frenzied panic running all through the streets and yet somehow not only know not to bit the sick boy in the middle of the street but go out of their way to go around him.

Despite the fact that zombies are only stopped by destroying the brain, one zombie is shown as nothing more than a pile of ashes and a hand. The fingers still moving. It’s a great visual that contradicts the story telling.

These were some of the biggest things that bothered me. There are LOADS of other plot holes but you can Google those (like I did.)  In the end it was an entertaining movie and I’ll probably end up watching it again soon. But do yourself a favor and read the book. It’s MUCH better.


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Mike Kloran

Educational Designer from Brooklyn New York. I'm a teacher, an artist, an athlete and constantly doing, making, drawing, creating! It's a busy life but I'm doing what I love and that's what matters most to me!

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