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 My Thoughts on "World War Z"

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Hybrid Pig-Boy


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PostSubject: My Thoughts on "World War Z"   Wed May 01, 2013 5:22 am

WARNING: If you have not read the original books, there will be spoilers ahead.

I first heard of Max Brooks when I was in one of my high school plays, and someone brought in a book entitled The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead. After the initial amusement that the author is the son of comedy legend Mel Brooks, I found myself engrossed in the book for various reasons. If you look above the UPC symbol on the back, it categorizes itself as "Humor". Sure, there are a few moments in the book that don't take themselves quite so seriously (there is a brief category explaining that zombies don't have sex), but for the most part this appears to be a very serious work. Max takes the staples of the zombie fighter - the chainsaw, machine gun, and boomstick shotgun - and turns them all on their heads, explaining why they would not be ideal weapons. It's clear that he did a lot of research for this book, taking a realistic stance.

Being grounded firmly in this bed of realism, there is a series of established rules that are set in the first book and followed in the second, but we'll get back to that.

As Max gathered information, he interviewed various police and military forces and asked them if they had "plans" for zombie uprising, expecting them to laugh the question off. To his surprise, however, a good portion of them had honestly thought out the scenario and gave their own opinions as to how it would play out. In fact, many security or miliatry organizations use the "zombie apocalypse" scenario to help their members think outside the proverbial box. These interviews, along with an oral history of World War II called The Good War, sparked Max's interest in a sequel to his guide.

What made Max Brooks's World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War a must-read for anyone interested in zombie literature - even at a point where zombies have become less of a subject and more of a genre - is that the horde of shambling, walking corpses was not the main focus. In fact, the actual conflict itself had been essentially done with for several years by the point of the story's beginning. The focus was on a group of people desperate to tell their stories of survival, and this allowed the reader precious insight into how a worldwide zombie apocalypse would impact various nations in not only a military way, but also politically, economically, and socially. The epidemic sparks two nuclear conflicts (one total war between India and Pakistan, and a single missile launched between opposing political factions in China) and turns Lhasa, Tibet into the world's most populous city, and only a book like this could make the ramifications of all of this so clear. This happens because there is no real main character. The author in this case is merely a recorder, taking down the memories of a bodyguard for the rich and famous, a man who made millions off of a bogus "vaccination", a soldier that survived the Battle of Yonkers, and a young woman whose mind has regressed to that of her four-year-old self (one of the most chilling segments of the book, if you ask me.)

I was excited for the movie...at first. After reading the books, I wanted to see how they could use this concept on the big screen. In the back of my mind was a nagging feeling that it was simply impossible, and it grew and grew with each bit of news I got. I think it reached its zenith when I saw the following clip of filming in Glasgow.

In it, we have what appears to be a localized outbreak on a city street, most likely the same street Brad Pitt is on in the beginning of the trailer. A man stumbles out of his van and slips, and two zombies quickly set upon him before running off for fresh prey. The man graphically contorts on the ground before rising - apparently completely zombified - and smashing himself repeatedly into the window of the van to probably get at someone else inside. Already we have two broken rules from the first book: first, the zombies are running when in the original they couldn't keep pace above a shamble and were highly uncoordinated; second, the transformation is almost instant and evidently puts the victim through some sort of seizure while the original virus took about a day to take effect and brought about numerous other symptoms.

Brad and Brian briefly discussed the trailer in their Pain & Gain review, and mocked the image of zombies piling upon each other to get to prey. In the book, that happened, too...except it was certainly a lot slower. You didn't have swarms of zombies piling through streets at 25 MPH and reaching 50 feet off the ground to get to a helicopter; you simply had a wall where a bunch of zombies had gathered and piled up mindlessly.

The original screenplay by J. Michael Straczynski that got greenlit was canned, and replaced with a script by Matthew Michael Carnahan, who penned Lions for Lambs and The Kingdom (neither one of which are apparently masterpieces). I'm guessing that the original script may have had a closer take to the book, but then again I don't know anything about it. For all I know, it could suck even worse than the one they went with. Hell, I haven't even seen the movie yet, so maybe they'll work something in that loosely ties to the book that I can live with. But for the most part, it looks like this is going to be an 'in-name-only' adaptation. With the focus so much on one character, it can't get a lot of the variety it needs from other sources.
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Frank Rizzo


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PostSubject: Re: My Thoughts on "World War Z"   Sat May 04, 2013 10:12 pm

I'll be very surprised if this movie makes good money at the box office after hearing all of the stories that it was almost shelved indefinitely due to the crappy production and script.
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PostSubject: Re: My Thoughts on "World War Z"   Mon May 06, 2013 1:58 am

Is anybody else getting kind of....tired of zombies? And vampires too. I want to see a movie about the manitou.
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PostSubject: Re: My Thoughts on "World War Z"   Mon May 06, 2013 2:00 am

ChaosTheory wrote:
Is anybody else getting kind of....tired of zombies? And vampires too. I want to see a movie about the manitou.
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