Thursday, August 8, 2013


Most of us have, while watching a movie, said, "The book was better."  We've bemoaned the fact that fun elements we enjoyed while holding the novel were left out(like the de-gnoming scene in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), or that some characters weren't acting as we wanted them to.  And as long as changes were limited to stuff like that, what we were doing was little more than having our own private Bitchfest.

Unfortunately, there's another area of book-to-movie adaptations that require a harder look.  I recently got around to seeing World War Z.  I loved the Max Brooks novel, and it was that book that got me into the whole Zombie Apocalypse craze to begin with.  Therefore, even with the understanding that the movie would have to change some stuff - the novel is written as a journalistic account of the events of World War Z - I was enthusiastic about it.  Twenty minutes in, that enthusiasm changed dramatically.

First of all, let me say this as plain as I can - if you're a fan of the book, do not go see this film.  It bears no resemblance to the book in any way except for the fact that the main character works for the United Nations, and there are zombies.  Even if I hadn't read the book, I'm sure I would've hated this movie.  It's awful.

The movie departed in so many ways that it shouldn't be called World War Z.  There is no mention of the outbreak beginning in China.  There is no mention of the quarantine measures adopted to try and slow the spread, apart from barely a nod to what Israel did that, in the movie, stopped working as soon as the main character landed in Jerusalem.  And one of the best parts, the Battle of Yonkers, isn't even mentioned(the reason the Battle of Yonkers was so important was that it showed that traditional tactics wouldn't work against zombies).

There is nothing resembling The Redeker Plan, which was a central component of the way we defeated the zombie hordes.  Somehow, the way we beat them back in the movie is the brilliant idea to infect as many people as possible with some kind of highly virulent(but somehow curable) disease like Typhoid or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which will act as camouflage against the zombies so we can go in and kill them(somehow they can't detect us if we're so infected we're about to die).  Quite a brilliant strategy when you consider the short duration it can be used - if you can get over your chills and hacking long enough to shoot the zombies, you have to have a cure soon or you'll die from bacteria rather than zombie bites.  Yes, that was sarcasm...this strategy is terrible.

I'd say there's a debate about how ethical it was for the film to use the World War Z name to draw people in while straying about as far as possible from the actual story, but a debate implies a pro and a con side.  There's really no debate - everyone thought this was shameful and warned others about it when they could.  There has to be some level of fidelity in a book-to-movie translation or all you've done is slap a bright shiny label on something that bears no truth in what it claims to be.  I think there has to be a degree of faithfulness to the book, and while I know that can't remain 100%, it has to be at least recognizable.  This thing should have been titled "Just Another Zombie Movie" because it holds no fidelity to the novel.

Yes, I was pissed about it.  Wouldn't you be pissed if you read an online matchmaking site ad about a 135 pound blonde who was a fitness freak only to find she was actually a 300 pound bucket of lard whose only truth in her ad was that she had blonde hair(and hers came out of a bottle)?  But that never happens.

No comments:

Post a Comment