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If you're anything like me, you've been geeked for MONTHS about the upcoming film adaptation of Max Brooks' brilliant 2006 novel, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. Well, great news, fellow fans of the undead: Paramount Pictures has just announced that it has set a release date of December 21, 2012. ALSO, not only is Brad Pitt the leading man, but World War Z will also feature Joel Kinnaman from The Killing (AKA "the one redeeming aspect of that otherwise horrible show") and Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston.
And now for the bad news: the synopsis released by Paramount sounds nothing like the book. Basically, it sounds like their adaption formula went like this: take a book with a cult-like fanbase, and change the EXACT THING ABOUT THE BOOK THAT MADE IT AWESOME.
Here's the synopsis, as described in Paramount's official press release:
The story revolves around United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Pitt), who traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments and threatening to decimate humanity itself. (Mireille) Enos plays Gerry's wife Karen Lane; (Daniella) Kertesz is his comrade in arms, Segen.
Right. So instead of the completely unique angle of setting the story after the zombie wars, with a character who was traveling the world to interview survivors of the zombie apocalypse in order to understand exactly how it happened—we have Brad Pitt in a "race against time."
The book was about collecting the stories and experiences of those who survived the attacks, and it was less about the shambling undead and more about the people, and how the wars affected society around the globe. Even if you think zombies are silly, this is one of those books that transcends the horror genre and becomes not only profoundly scary, but emotionally devastating. It's a story about how the human population responds to a global emergency on a political, social, and personal level—with all the heroism and cowardice that implies.
I suppose it's possible the synopsis was poorly written or comes off as misleading, but it sure sounds to me like Paramount just took a few of the best battle scenes from the book and shoved Pitt into their midst. Looking ruggedly handsome and issuing forth some dryly humorous lines, no doubt.
As Peter Hall at Movies.com wrote,
Paramount's World War Z is not Max Brooks' World War Z. As anyone who has read (and no doubt subsequently fallen in love with) the latter, it's about an agent of the UN's Postwar Commission who goes around the world to interview survivors of the zombie apocalypse in order to understand exactly how it happened. He's just a researcher trying to unearth facts that the UN might not want to get out whilst making sense of this big, bloody, global brain-eating mess. He is NOT an employee "in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic." He's not even a little bit of that. Not even a fraction.
All right, now that I've done my required freaking out about the press release, I'm still holding out hope that the movie—even with its many annoying deviations—will manage to bring that sense of large-scale human crisis to the big screen, instead of focusing on a few dramatic battles. It may even be a hopeful sign that the film has been rated PG-13, because that means it can't be a splatterfest.
Also, they're still filming. Who knows, maybe producers are listening to fans' reactions to the synopsis right now. In which case: HEY ASSHOLES, MAKE IT MORE LIKE THAT AWESOME BOOK YOU BOUGHT.
Have you read World War Z? What do you think about the film version's description?
Image via Amazon