World War Z – Does The Film Of The Book Work?

21 Jun

A while ago, I posted an article here about whether the movie of Max Brook’s World War Z would work or not. Now, the long-awaited day is finally here (exactly six months to the day from its original release date) and the film is finally out. This meant that rather than do the work I should have been doing this afternoon, I snuck out to see it at a little neighbourhood cinema near where I live. So, to return to the question in my previous posting, does the movie work?

Well, I have to say, and I’m aware this may be a controversial point of view amongst fans of the book, I really liked it. It’s fast-paced, it has a good strong plot, the zombies are good (well for the most part – a few sketchy CGI bits here and there but nothing which made me want to throw things at the screen) and, probably most surprisingly of all, it actually adds something completely original to the zombie genre that I hadn’t come across before. I can’t tell you what it is as it would ruin the movie – but the hastily-reworked last third of the film revolves around it and I thought it was a really interesting idea. Certainly, it made me stop and think, and I think it’s one that zombie fans will argue over for years to come. Once the movie’s been out a while, I’ll even need to write a post exploring the concept they’ve introduced as it’s quite interesting from a scientific perspective as well as a zombie one.

I have to say, I’d gone into the cinema with my fingers crossed, hoping that it would at least be a passable action movie, but right from the start it became clear this wasn’t the potential turkey a lot of people in the media had been making it out to be. This is a genuine zombie movie which manages to bring something new to the genre, while remaining appealing to a wider audience. While it’s not up there with the likes of 28 Days Later (but then very little within the zombie genre is!), it’s definitely much closer to that sort of level than I expected. If we take 28 Days Later as the gold standard and say it’s a 10, then World War Z is a good solid 8. In my books, this would put it in the same sort of league as 28 Weeks Later (nowhere nearly as good as its predecessor, but a good film in its own right).

I think the biggest problem for the movie version of World War Z, and this was always going to be a major stumbling block, is the title. With the book being so good, and so unfilmable, this title was always going to bring an awful lot of baggage with it and I don’t think the movie quite gets away from it. With a different title, I think zombie fans would be all over this film, saying how great it is to see a good mainstream zombie movie. However, going under the title of World War Z is always going to have those who loved the book complaining. This is because, as I’ve said before, this is quite clearly not a film of the book. Instead, it’s a film set in the same world as the book (although even some of the basic zombie lore has been tweaked so the two worlds don’t quite match up), and a different title would have made this clearer.

Anyway, having finally seen the movie, I think that as long as it can get out from under the formidable shadow of the book, it will be a hit. However, it’s still unclear whether it will manage it, and if it doesn’t that would be a shame because it’s a genuinely good movie in its own right and it’s one that I think will definitely have people talking.

Of course there was one other thing that disappointed me a little. This was that I didn’t managed to catch myself on screen! I saw a few of my fellow extras from the opening scene, and in particular I spotted my friend Mike the delivery driver (who, having time off his real job as a delivery driver to be an extra on the movie, arrived on set only to find he’d been cast as, you guessed it, a delivery driver!), but alas not myself. I might still be in there somewhere, but it will have to wait for the DVD to come out so I can have a closer look. So much for my career as a Hollywood movie star!


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From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.

To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.

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2 Responses to “World War Z – Does The Film Of The Book Work?”

  1. Poetee 22/06/2013 at 14:39 #

    After reading the concept of the book, I can see why those who read the book first or like the book may be a bit disappointed in the movie versions name sake. On the other hand, I did not read the book and can definitely recommend the movie based on it being very entertaining and presenting zombies as never seen before! As a writer, a real fear is having your work put in film and completely not translated as you wrote it! If you want o see the movie, seei it with no expectation of it representing the book and it may be more enjoyable to you. Peace!

    • cmdrysdale 22/06/2013 at 19:07 #

      Well put, and you’re right that they do give a nice new slant on the zombies themselves.

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