Can we blame Brad Pitt for the fact that World War Z sounds nothing like the book that serves as its supposed source material? Probably not, though we’re still steamed that the screenwriters wrote a new character for him, considering that the book already has so many amazing people already. That confusion has since been cleared up. It’s not, as we thought, that Pitt required some special role; it’s because the whole movie is an entirely new story. Just check out the official synopsis.
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.
Every other site that’s furious that Paramount has so drastically changed the plot? Yep, we’re with them. The whole point of World War Z is in its subtitle: It’s an oral history of the zombie war. Max Brooks, writing as an agent of the UN Postwar Commission, goes around interviewing survivors of the war and piecing together the full history: The first bite that set it off, the Great Panic that the U.S. underwent after its citizens believed that as a first-world country they were safe; the moral compromises that every person who fought has had to make.
If the movie is set during the outbreak, how do we get any of that hindsight?
This doesn’t make any sense. Comic book writer J. Michael Straczynski co-wrote the screenplay; he came up with the story for Thor and wrote nearly every episode of Babylon 5, so you can trust him to tell a story right. This decision must have come down from the powers that be at the studio.
Very Aware says that it’s too early to judge, and that Paramount could still make a very good movie. We don’t doubt that, but what Paramount will end up making is another zombie movie. So why slap the name World War Z on it and waste such precious source material?
Peter Hall at Movies.com perfectly sums up our problem with the change and how it affects the movie’s theme:
WWZ isn’t about preventing a pandemic. It’s about understanding it.
Part of what Brooks illustrates in the book is that humanity wasn’t able to stop the pandemic. We fucked up royally in more than one way, and now this guy is talking to the bigwigs and the Everymen to figure out where we dropped the ball and what it means for our post-zombie society.
Our only hope at this point is for HBO or Showtime (or maybe even Starz) to obtain the rights after this movie comes out and make a miniseries. Then we’d get the time and the scope that this oral history deserves.