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World War Z plot confirms film departs from book

WorldWarZ.jpgWell I had been saying since the very early stages that I was concerned about the film adaptation of World War Z and how I couldn't see it could cover the story in the same way as the book, after all the book presents it in a very different style that if converted to film would surely be a talking heads documentary.

With release of the plot of the film there's something that's very clear, this has turned into a more action orientated film and will feature one person's view of the outbreak and follow their attempts to stop it, globally, at the time it is happening.

When you read the World War Z book you get a clear feeling that this would be presented as a documentary consisting of interviews of people from around the world talking about the outbreak. Perhaps it would follow the interviewer as they visit each person and conduct the interview, but that's the clear format you get from reading the book.

Now the story is somewhat different and the official synopsis revealed from Paramount through Collider tells us the following:

"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. Enos plays Gerry's wife Karen Lane; Kertesz is his comrade in arms, Segen."

So we're following the events as they happen, through the eyes of one character. Well this isn't something new, we heard about this back in 2008 from the scriptwriter himself, and then it sounded okay.

Originally, when I first talked about the adaptation, J. Michael Straczynski was writing the adaptation of World War Z (Amazon.co.uk) by Max Brooks and he said this:

" ...the book, if you haven't read it, is a wonderful, wonderful book in an interview format after the zombie wars...You see how we survived. It's very political, very smart, very cagey, but there's no main character. So you have to create who the interviewer is and give him some background and bring him from place to place to place to place. And they said, 'Feel free to get as political as you want, as incisive as you want, to play with it. You could look at this as a Katrina kind of catastrophe.' But I'm being very faithful to the book, letter by letter when I can, and I'm on about page 70 right now and I'm really happy with it. I'm really pleased with it actually, so if that goes well we might go into production on that one."

So he was intending to be very faithful to the original, and when the script was reviewed online I was excited, for it seemed that it was going to stay true to the book, but that's when I started getting concerned:

The script does seem epic indeed, perhaps too epic, and I'm seriously concerned that JMS's work is once again going to be chopped up by Hollywood because both the script, and the source material, are just too big for the screen.

See I even said "concerned" back then!

It was in 2008 that Straczynski revealed that the film would be taking a different view from the book, the one we now see in the synopsis.

"The fictional concept of the book is that its written by someone with the UN, so let's tell that story...Let's show the book being written. We follow this guy all over the world as he goes on these interviews, and he has his own personal story as well. You're cutting between the past and the present, how he got to this point...

...It has that international feel to it, and because it goes backward and forward in time, we can cherry-pick our favorite moments in the book...Some of it is crazy in scale. It's huge. It's as political as the book was. And it ends with that book being completed."

That didn't sound too bad, in fact from Straczynski it sounded like it could work really well, but we already had the director on board, Marc Forster, and considering he brought us Quantum of Solace (Filmstalker review) it did start to raise a few concerns. Then add in the fact that Straczynski went onto describe the closest idea to this film as The Bourne Identity and alarm bells began to ring, still he was talking about it positively.

"We talk about it as a thriller, the closest comparison being The Bourne Identity...Most zombie movies to this point have been small, focusing on a few people in a house. And this has got real scare. You're in India with hundreds of boats trying to get out of there with a tidal wave of zombies. The scale of what we're doing here is phenomenal."

Then it did get worrying. The film was delayed for heavy script work, Matthew Michael Carnahan took over and rewrote the script which would undoubtedly mean more upfront action, not a bad thing as he's a great writer too, but that was changing the view of the story.

Follow that with stories of the film being too expensive and Paramount talking about the expense, that the needed another investor, and they were:

"...really committed to making a big, kick-ass giant movie with Marc Forster and Brad Pitt..."

Oh dear. Still, the film is big, it has a good cast, it's filming worldwide, it has elements of the original and Straczynski's original script with an undoubtedly strong rewrite from Carnahan, let's see if Forster can redeem himself and deliver a strong World War Z, even if the focus of the film has changed.



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