June 21 is a date many zombie fans have been looking forward to, as it will see the release of the long delayed World War Z. Unfortunately, it’s also a date many die hard fans of the book are dreading, as early footage and trailers show no sign of being faithful to the book. To make matters worse, the film has suffered countless rewrites and reshoots and apparently went into production before a final script was even finished. Starring Brad Pitt (whose movies you can stream online for free), World War Z looks to tell the story of Gerry Lane, a United Nations employee, who must travel the world in a fight for survival, seeking refuge for his family and finding a cure to a zombie epidemic that’s destroyed the planet. Sure, this sounds like an awesome plot, but it’s far removed from the source material and has many, including myself, very concerned. To make everything even worse, the author the book, Max Brooks, recently spoke out in an interview with Mansfield University, that the only thing faithful to his work is the title.
Brooks mentions that his only involvement with the film was when he gave over the rights of the film to Brad Pitt and Paramount, and any say he had was signed away with those rights. While he discusses that this is normal for Hollywood (something he’s very familiar with, being the son of the great Mel Brooks), he’s worried that real fans of the book will be severely disappointed. After production began, Brooks was invited to the set and given a chance to read the script, but he turned the opportunity down, stating, “You’re going to do rewrites and reshoots. That’s what happens when you make a giant movie.” and that “My attitude is if you haven’t invited me in to contribute, then fine. Go make the movie you want to make and I’ll see it when it comes out.” He also mentions that any worries he may have would only be solidified reading the script and that being frustrated about not being able to change anything would only be worse.
Brooks goes on to discuss how fans should receive the film. “I cannot guarantee that the movie will be the book that they love,” Brooks said. “I’m in no position to tell people to see this movie or not see it. If I’m asked I say, see the movie as a movie and judge it as a movie.”
I’m a huge fan of the World War Z book and have increasingly lost any excitement I had for the film adaptation My biggest concern with the entire production is that they are clearly not following the story and that the change from the novel is so vast, the title should be completely different. The book is a “Oral History of the Zombie War”, as it’s subtitle states, and follows different scenarios around the world before and after the epidemic broke out, not following one particular story or person, as the film seems to depict. To be quite honest, the book is practically impossible to adapt into a film, and putting a face like Brad Pitt on the production is one of the worst ways to go about it.
My biggest issue with the entire ordeal, however, is who to blame. I understand that authors lose all creative control of their film adaptations when they sign away the rights, but I wonder what Brooks really thought would happen when he signed the dotted line. He knew his book was almost impossible to adapt, yet he let it go off to Hollywood (for probably a hefty sum). But I can’t blame the guy, as I would probably do the same thing. It’s still a shame but I’m glad he’s at least giving us all the heads up on to how different the movie will be from his novel.
The last question that remains is how many people will actually show up to the theater to check out the film. The regular movie goer may be pumped to see a new zombie film on the big screen, but the true fans of the book, as well as those who are aware of its production issues, will certainly be hesitant on seeing in. I know I will be one of the later, and while I’m always up for a zombie flick, the title and its distraction will definitely leave me disappointed.
Hitting theaters on June 21, World War Z stars Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos (The Killing), James Badge Dale, Matthew Fox, and David Morse. The film is directed by Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace, Finding Neverland). Check out the trailer below: