Plot Details For World War Z Don’t Sound All That Much Like World War Z


Some official details about “World War Z”, the big-screen adaptation of Max Brooks’ “oral history of the zombie war”, have come out today. Specifics about the plot are also accompanied by a firm release date. So now those of us looking forward to “World War Z” have a day to circle on the calendar and stare at while tenting our fingers and giggling manically.

First the date. Paramount announced today that “World War Z” will get a Christmas time release, and the undead will swarm theaters on December 21st, 2012. What says happy birthday Baby Jesus quite like hordes of zombies shambling all over the place?

“World War Z” is directed by Marc Forster (“Quantum of Solace”, “Monster’s Ball”), stars Brad Pitt, who serves as a producer on the film, Mireille Enos (“The Killing”), Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale (“The Departed”), and Mathew Fox (“Party of Five”). The studio is calling it a “geo-political thriller”.

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

That sounds like a nice zombie movie, but it doesn’t sound like “World War Z” in the slightest. In Brooks’ book a man travels around interviewing survivors of the Zombie War, collecting their stories. Through these otherwise unrelated vignettes you begin to get a full picture of the overall conflict. It is the stories of these people who come from all walks of life, of the things they experienced and endured in order to live through the zombie infestation, that gives “World War Z” it’s humanity, and it is this structure that makes it stand out from herd of other zombie novels. The book is not about trying to stop the pandemic, it is about looking back on the conflict, trying to make sense of it, and attempting to move on and live with the weight of such a catastrophe.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time lately wondering how they were going to adapt “World War Z” into a movie, it isn’t an easy conversion. My hope was that they would take a couple of the individual stories and intertwine them. Like that they could still stay true to the form and the spirit of the plot. I still plan to watch the movie, and I still have hope that it will be good—honestly I still expect it to be—but I can’t help but think that using the title “World War Z” may very well be more about marketing than storytelling.

Then again, maybe I’m just a judgmental prick who spends too much time dissecting minor details. Forster and company could very well keep the framework of Brooks’ book and stay true to the themes and tone of the source material, the plot description is really not that in depth. For the time being I’ll try to stay optimistic. And anyway, it does still sound pretty rad.

What do you all think about these new developments?

Author: Brent McKnight

Brent McKnight lives in Seattle with his dogs. He likes beards, movies where things explode, and overcast skies. His three favorite movies are "Rubin and Ed", "A Bittersweet Life", and "Out for Justice". He wishes his knees didn't hurt. On Twitter @BrentMMcKnight
  • Nix

    I could never get into these books that are written from multiple POVs, especially in diary/report forms. I tried reading “Robocoplyse”, which I think is similar in style (?), and couldn’t get past 50 pages. The constant shifting of POVs and styles was too much. But sounds like they’re approaching WWZ from a more traditional approach, which was what I always expected.

  • Anonymous

    It’s a shame because I was looking forward to a zombie horror movie done in maybe a “Babel” or “Traffic” style

  • Epic_Myth

    My girlfriend is going to be very, VERY disappointed by that synopsis.

  • Gratis roulette

    The book was Amazing, i was running around telling my friends about it for months after reading it, and i would love to see that book made into a movie NOT this.

  • Dedpool

    They can still weave multiple stories in. If Pitt’s character is out looking for a way to stop it or whatever he can easily be getting or witness the stories as he travels. Personally I think the movie should’ve taken place in the past (during the war) and present with the survivors telling their personal stories

    • Tin Hoang

      That’s kind of what I was expecting as well. It looks like they’re just cashing in on the name and Zombie war premise, but turning it into a standard action/thriller. That’s the safe route.