Whenever there’s a film produced that’s adapted from a novel there are always those that love to proclaim “It’s not as good as the book”.
A film is always going to struggle to match a story that has been conjured in your imagination, where special effects budgets are limitless and anything is possible.
Nevertheless, when I heard that World War Z was to be a big Hollywood feature, I still clung on to the hope that it would be able to excite me as much as reading the book had.
The major problem with that, was that the novel gives a number of accounts from different parts of the world from different people and doesn’t have a Brad Pitt to string it all together.
The issue, even before watching the film, was that as soon as you have a star, you’re going to have an indestructible hero who will probably conquer all odds and get his happy ending. And that wasn’t the deal with the book either.
World War Z (the film) starts just after the outbreak, as a contagion has made its way into humanity and is spreading fast, causing confusion and conjecture as to its cause.
Very quickly, Gerry Lane (Pitt) and his family are in the thick of it and looking for safe places to stay whilst making their way to a military ship that’s at sea and beyond the reach of the zombies.
Lane is a former UN investigator who specialises in going into difficult situations and getting evidence. This means, he’s able to deal with the martial law situation and, because he’s valuable, the government are keen to have him working for them, in return for the safekeeping of his family.
He’s then stuck in a race against time as he desperately searches for a cure for the infection while the population of the world is rapidly overwhelmed and transformed into vicious flesh eaters.
Traveling across the globe with the help of a military airplane, he’s exposed to a number of terrifying events as each group of survivors that he meets inevitably gets overrun.
The film moves quickly, much like the zombie virus and the action is well delivered, clench inducing and plentiful.
Pitt gives a typically polished performance and is surrounded by a strong cast portraying a good mix of believable characters.
It also feels as if World War Z is trying to do something a little different, telling a typical zombie apocalypse tale, but from a slightly less typical perspective and missing the front and back ends. This leaves us to witness the meaty middle of the crisis.
So what’s not to love?
The first issue is the zombies themselves. The debate on fast zombies has been done to death and dead walkers running about has become something that we’re just going to have to live with, even if it is a bit stupid.
The main problem, or my main problem with the fast World War Z zombies isn’t just how fast and powerful they are, but it’s how quickly a person changes from being a human to a fully animated brain muncher after being bitten. We’re talking a couple of minutes here people.
And if there really was a virus that spread that fast, surely we’re all be dead before we even realised that something was wrong.
It’s important for a horror film to give the viewer the impression that all is hopeless (for a while at least), but this is situation borders on the impossible. And importantly, this (again) isn’t a feature of Max Brooks’ novel, this super fast contagion element is a creation of Pitt and his fellow producers.
World War Z is a good infection movie (as opposed to being a zombie movie), right up there with 28 Days Later and company. It delivers on original elements, action and polish.
You can’t fault much of it, but it’s curious that in a film where the main character is jetting across the world from action sequence to action sequence, it still somehow feels that not an awful lot happens.
Disappointingly the film fails to encompass the scale and more classic zombie traditions that I expected to see from the film conversion of the Max Brooks’ novel.
Makes you wonder why they made the link to the book in the first place really. It would have been fine without it.