It was only a matter of time before we got this news, and since Vince refuses to put down his Cormac S. Thompson novels and read “World War Z” like I’ve told him to, I get to bring you all the bad news. Currently filming in Malta, World War Z will not follow the plot of the Max Brooks “Oral History of the Zombie War.” Instead, it will tell the story of Brad Pitt, ‘dude who does stuff.’
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. (Via Slash Film)
*deep sigh, wraps tape around eyeglasses, inserts pocket protector, pours glass of YooHoo, hits inhaler*
GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR NERD RANT!!!
The idea that “there really aren’t any characters to latch onto” is laughable, because there are plenty, and the only problem that should be faced in adapting this book for the screen is that there are too many stories to tell. But that’s why you hire writers, to draw the best aspects of the book’s collection of stories and fit them into 2.5 hours at most. Look, I’ll outline a script right now off the top of my head (forgive any errors, fellow WWZers, and for everyone else there are SPOILERS):
Act 1: Brad Pitt sits down to listen to the first story about Kwang Jinshu discovering the reanimated child. The outbreak begins. The world panics, with the U.S. stubbornly unprepared, India and Pakistan readying their caches of nuclear weapons, and North Korea herding its citizens into an underground bunker. We tell the stories of the mass outbreaks and early stages of the war through the stories of the young Japanese man who escapes his apartment building, the wealthy businessman and his celebrity compound being protected by T. Sean Collins (really, no characters to latch on to?), and the creation of the apartheid camps throughout Africa.
Act 2: Countries are at war with the zombies and each other, but all you need to know about is America. Maybe throw the Whacko in, telling us about how the government was more worried about Wall Street. Pretty timely stuff. Everyone else – India and Pakistan have destroyed each other with nukes, China is developing into a civil war, Russian and German towns are crumbling as their armies seemingly turn into WWII replicas – can be told in passing thoughts, as the U.S. is completely overrun. Imagine the epic scale of the Battle of Yonkers, as American troops think they’re winning with RPGs and grenades, only to find out that they’re not stopping anything. And maybe mention the Russians turning on each other by command of their superiors. Mostly so we can make Maria Zhuganova super hot. Also, let’s throw in a quick scene with the astronauts stranded at the International Space Station watching the nuclear explosions and the visible landmarks collapsing.
Act 3: We introduce the heroes with Sardar Kahn telling the story of General Raj Singh giving his life to save millions by blowing up the bridge. The President eventually convinces the remaining world leaders at their island headquarters that it’s time to attack using basic strategies. Todd Waino and Roy Elliot tell the story of the first American victory with soldiers using throwback weapons and “Lobos” to fight off zombies. Soldiers across the world take the offensive and begin reclaiming their cities, culminating with the image of the giant wall of bodies leading the zombies into the line of soldier fire.
Finally, without giving any spoilers, the ending arrives with the world still cleaning up and fighting off packs of zombies, while one country has become the top global power, another has a new government, and one will never be heard from again. And if that seems too complicated, then you just make the entire movie about Todd Waino describing the Battle of Yonkers and then how the U.S. realized mistakes and overcame, with a few other stories sprinkled in.
Sure, it’s a lot to compress, but I’m pretty sure Max Brooks and some helpers could fit the best parts into two hours or so. Otherwise, if you think my rant was bad, I fear for the uprising of the real nerds.
*takes off glasses, slams Texas Instruments TI-84 on the ground, does pushups*