Friday Flicks: World War Z

A review of a book to film adaptation.

In his novel, World War Z, author Max Brooks created a telling of a zombie infested, post-apocalyptic world. Rather than a traditional narrative, Brooks told his tale as a collection of individual recollections of the ten-year war against zombies. When the film adaptation of the bestselling book was announced, I was excited to see the book brought to life, but wondered if such an adaptation was even possible. How could the filmmakers adapt a book with so many characters and such a large scope.

The answer . . . they don't. Rather than attempt to chorale Brooks's writing into the constraints of a film, the filmmakers use little more than the title and the idea of a zombie apocalypse in this "adaptation". With Brad Pitt playing a former UN employee who is called to jump back into his old lifestyle for the sake of his family, the filmmakers wisely choose to focus on a central character and his struggle to survive. I guess when you have Brad Pitt starring in your movie, you better use him!

The film opens as Pitt, accompanied by his wife(Mireille Enos), prepares to drive his daughters to school. On this drive, the family witnesses the zombie outbreak firsthand, narrowly escaping the danger of the streets. Desperate to safeguard his family from the attacks, he calls upon his old friend at the United Nations, and agrees to help search for the origin of the outbreak in exchange for his family's asylum. They are then flown to an ocean based command center, where Pitt learns of the apparent virus that causes people to turn to zombies. As the film progresses, we follow Pitt as he visits numerous places around the world, each affected by the outbreak.

World War Z is directed by Marc Forester (Finding Neverland, Quantum of Solace), who brings a fast pace and edgy tone to the story. It is very difficult to make a zombie seem threatening. Indeed, there were moments in this film where the zombies are almost laughable. But the filmmakers deftly find a way around that. By allowing the actors to play their characters straight and develop genuine emotional stakes, the threat of zombies becomes more urgent and frightening.

Before its release, World War Z was mired in production setbacks that included a massive rewrite and reshoot of it's third act. The result is an ending that foregoes the normal summer blockbuster conclusion of intense action and special effects. Rather, the film ends with an intimate, suspense laden scene that intelligently concludes the movie, while artfully and organically leaving the possibility for a sequel. Despite a complete departure from the source material, World War Z manages to remain smart, intriguing, and most importantly, entertaining.

Have you seen this film or read the book on which it is based? How do you think the two compare? What other film adaptations would you like to see reviewed?

This entry was posted on Friday, July 5, 2013 and is filed under ,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

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