World War Z has taken me a while to get around to reviewing as I have been putting it off and putting it off and putting it off… In some respects I absolutely love this film – it has transformed the way I view a zombie apocalypse, but in others I really feel that Hollywood has ruined what could have been a masterpiece in exchange for creating your typical, high-selling ‘blockbuster’.
Let’s start with the positives, eh! I was pleasantly surprised by how well World War Z adapted itself from the book – as the book format would be nigh impossible to put into film. Whereas the book has no main narrative or protagonist (two things that are quite essential for a film) focusing instead on documenting various aspects and periods of the Zombie War, the film has managed to take all the events described in the book and then follow the life of one survivor and his family as the events unfold round them, while creating a completely new facet to the books – a linear, singular plot. Clever adaption there! The film manages to include many of the events of the book – such as Israel’s self-quarantine and investigations of the initial causes of the breakout, and does a good job of adapting them – fitting them into the plot seamlessly, rather than slotting them in just to fit with the book.
One major change from the book, which I am actually quite fond of, is the way in which the zombie virus manifests itself. Whereas in the books the virus is a slow burn – taking hours, days or even months to take over a host body (hence the rapid spread of the infection globally) the film’s virus takes over a host almost instantaneously (5-6 seconds!) Although this is a little less plausible, it does make for a much more exciting film – creating high-octane, instantaneous outbreaks out of almost nowhere. Although I like the book’s take on things, it would likely have made for a very boring film adaption – watching a load of people get attacked by zombies and then survive for a couple of weeks getting slowly iller until one day they die and then wake up and repeat the cycle might not make the fastest paced film in the world. That said – wouldn’t mind an accurate film adaption of the books – I think taking snippets from all the different points in the Zombie War and using the War as the protagonist rather than a character might make a stunning film – although less mainstream perhaps.
Pulled from the book, another way in which the film really outdoes itself is its depiction of outbreaks and zombie hordes. I usually revel in creating survival strategies in the face of apocalypses, but I struggle to think of a way, other than sheer luck, that I could survive this outbreak. These zombies are what zombies should be – they are fast, and they are insane. They will launch themselves at you, throw themselves off buildings at you, climb over each other to overcome nearly any barrier. There are very few things scarier than seeing a literal wave of zombies hurling themselves towards you, knowing they will break down any door you put in their way, pile themselves up against the building and pour through any broken window, never relenting until you are food. Your only hope is hiding and hoping none of them sense you – and even then you will likely starve to death! The siege of Jerusalem is one of the most terrifying demonstrations of the danger of zombies I have ever seen on screen. Kudos to the film.
To summarize the good points of this film – the world and the plague they have created is phenomenal. The global scale of the destruction and the unending threat of the undead does this film proud, unfortunately the plot lets it down massively.
*spoilers* The entire plot of the film is Brad Pitt going in search of a ‘cure’ or some way to give the humans advantage over the undead. Unfortunately – being a Hollywood film, the producers and directors felt it necessary to give the film a positive ending – stereotypically letting Brad Pitt hunt down a solution to the zombie problem and save the day (and his family, aww) In itself this wouldn’t be so bad, only there IS no really plausible solution to the plague and so the producers decided to make up a really implausible and crappy one – that they don’t go after people with terminal illnesses or diseases. How shit is that? If we were talking about slow, lurching zombies then perhaps, just perhaps this could be plausible, minus the fact that humans don’t have the senses to automatically detect if someone is ill or not, but FAST zombies, who fling themselves off of buildings to get to you are hardly going to have the time to check if you are ill before sinking their teeth into you. Not only that but the zombies actively AVOID Pitt once he is ‘diseased’! We literally see a horde of undead run full pelt at Brad and then swerve at the last minute and run past – not only are they not targeting him – but they are intentionally avoiding him. These creatures will run off buildings and climb over each other, but they WON’T bowl over Brad Pitt while trying to get to desirable humans. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. This is where the film makers ruined it – they had such a good thing going and then they ruined it. The ending is hideously typical – Pitt returns to his joyful family and then a montage of short clips show the U.S army fighting back the hordes. Shit.
How they SHOULD have done it is have Brad Pitt running around trying to find a cure, only to have him finally realize there is no miracle cure or aid and it is just going to be a very hard, very long trudge to take back the planet. Then he should return to his half-starved family – weeping maybe because all hope is lost – only to then be faced with an outbreak on the ground with his family slowly torn away from him. The last shot could be him, 2 months later, wandering through the deserted world, emaciated and alone – or even better – his DAUGHTER doing this – having lost all her family to the apocalypse. Maybe a bit too grim for Hollywood though…
Anyway – the plot sucked a bit – especially towards the middle/end. Other than that (which is a pretty big thing honestly) the film was exceptionally good. I was initially skeptical about watching it, what with absolutely LOVING the book, but actually it surprised me with the skill behind its depiction of zombie outbreaks and has transformed what I think of when I think Zombie Apocalypse. This would be a hard one to survive by any stretch of the imagination.