This time around on the Halloween Hall of Fame, it’s Zombies! Sure you’ve got your classic George Romero stuff and your 28 Days Later which along with Robert Kirkman have given us our version of the contemporary Zombie story. But one tale that I feel is a little different from those and that gets unfairly kicked around are the novel and film versions of World War Z.
If you haven’t seen the movie or read this book, World War Z is a zombies by way of disease outbreak story. But the thing I feel sets WWZ apart is that it addresses the epidemic on a global scale. It shows us the perils on a “macro” scale and not just on the “micro.” For example, you’ve got your Walking Dead and I Am Legend which follows the characters around in their little area, fairly isolated, just people trying to survive the crisis. World War Z shows how the rest of the globe is holding out. And the movie adaptation feels like a Tom Clancy international thriller only with Zombies instead of terrorists that have obtained nuke launch codes or something.
There’s that tired old cliché where readers get in the face of moviegoers yelling, “the book was SO much better” when a film adaptation is released of some beloved novel. In the case of Max Brook’s 2006 novel World War Z, I feel it’s not necessarily better it’s just that the book and the film are so totally different but I enjoyed each one quite a bit. The novel of course is far more reaching than the movie was and that is to be expected. The book follows a traveling interviewer going around the globe documenting people’s accounts of the Zombie War shortly after it begins to finally subside. One of the most fascinating aspects about the book was how you get to hear from these character’s that are all around the world, with totally different backgrounds describe their harrowing experiences. You get accounts from politicians, warlords, doctors, mercenaries, military, etc. The author I feel did a really good job taking account the different political climates, cultures, and customs into each of the character’s stories which gives them all a unique and intriguing spin. I highly recommend the audiobook, it has a star studded cast which includes Nathan Fillion, Simon Pegg, Mark Hamill, Common, Kal Penn, Jeri Ryan just to name a few. The novel was written by Max Brooks after all, son of Hollywood legends Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft so he’s got some celeb pull.
The film follows Brad Pitt’s character Gerry Lane (a former UN action hero) and his family at first trying to escape the horrors of the Zombie outbreak as it begins to hit in their hometown of Philadelphia. The story then starts to focus on Pitt and his team elite team of military awesome men trying to find “Patient Zero” in hopes to find a cure and save the human race from total extinction. The movie has some dazzling action sequences and visuals that will follow you around in your nightmares for quite some time. The movie also does a good job of giving you a global view of how the Zombie outbreak is being handled by different governments around the world. It was directed by Marc Foster who also directed Quantum of Solace, The Kite Runner and Monster’s Ball. So you know you’re in fairly good hands already.
So to summarize, World War Z the book and movie are totally different yet both are an enjoyable and fun experience. I feel like they make excellent companion pieces to each other. You get the same feel from both of them yet each has their own engaging aspects. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered this before from a film adaptation of a novel. So if you want some good Zombie scares and are starting to grow tired of Rick Grimes and the rag tag gang, then give World War Z a taste.