Just got in from seeing World War Z and thought it was best to blog while it’s all fresh in my mind (though, really it’s so I can have a lie in tomorrow without forgetting anything.) To start things off: I really liked the book. From this age-old rambling I wrote about it, I stand by the fact that the style it was written in was brilliant, and that the way it creates a full story through a unique jigsaw of events is difficult to pull off, but fantastic when done correctly.
To – as usual – spare some repetition on my part, here’s a snippet from the aforementioned Goodreads rambling on the book before I get to the film –
Setting up this entire story in a strict journalistic formula provides diversity in the tales; this isn’t a one-sided account. You’re given countless perceptions of the war through its stages and are at liberty to put the pieces together as you visualise it. What’s scariest about this book is that it seems plausible – completely and utterly plausible.
Brooks doesn’t go for gore, he goes for human triggers. What appears to be a virus is covered up by the government, there are tactics to shift attention. As the war goes on we’re informed of various heroics and cowardice from many participants. Most unsettling is the genuine parallel with human nature: if you can’t win, why fight? Many would commit suicide, and some would just become a zombie in mindset; null, void. He plays with the boundaries of the mind and its conditions in a state of war and, at no point, does it ever seem farfetched.
This book is brilliantly written and startlingly real. If I remember the quotes correctly, Simon Pegg noted it’s almost as if Brooks knows something we don’t. Agreed. Part of me wants to get the prequel ‘The Zombie Survival Guide’ so I’m prepared… just in case.
So little of what made the book so interesting and grabbing occurs in the film. Many of the main plot ideas that keep it in touch with reality – corruption, for example – appears nowhere. As a big fan of the book’s style, I’ve talked with others about how interesting the film would be if reflective of the journalistic narrative; interviewing those involved and displaying the story though flashbacks. Naturally, we weren’t that naive because that’s not how Hollywood works.
Hollywood puts a big name into a story – Brad, if you’re reading, you were alright, so don’t worry – and gives a central plot. That central plot uses the usual choice for ‘human triggers’: family. Gerry’s disconnect with his family throughout is one of the few parts that feels really human about the narrative, whereas the book holds so much more. A concession must be given at the injection climax – the epitome of the inner battle of human nature in the movie – a principle of it’s better to die trying than die on your knees, not something everyone would succumb to.
I know, I know. It’s based on a book, not a carbon copy! This is barely a copy, personally. It pales in comparison to the book, and as a stand alone film it’s perfectly average. Is it meant to be taken seriously? The zombies themselves had the audience in stitches, resulting in some imitating their noises in what were supposed to be suspense-building silences. More so, the zombies reminded me of the episode of The Office US where they run around shouting ‘Parkour!’ It was, sadly, perfectly average.
But, there is one plus! The film was actually partially shot in Glasgow and Falkirk, the latter being my home town. There was a general buzz when Glasgow was shown, all pimped up like Philadelphia, and everyone recognised places where they go regularly. Needless to say, when they were filming I had a proper snoop around the set. It’s so rare something cool happens in public-view, so I took my opportunity to go a little snap-happy. I was going to include some photos I took of the set, but I can’t find them on my laptop. Another time, perhaps!
So, to summarise, World War Z is okay. It’s not great by any stretch of the imagination and – comparing again! – was a real disappointment considering the book it was based off of. But my town got about 7 seconds of glory in one of the road shots, and now all I can currently picture is zombies shouting ‘Parkour!’ so it’s not all bad.