It’s not hyperbole to say that one of the best horror novels to come out in the past 20 years was written by Mel Brook’s son. A son who wrote comedy scripts for Saturday Night Live. Max Brooks before 2003 was relatively unknown to genre fans. This changed post-2003 with the release of his tongue-in-cheek how-to book, The Zombie Survival Guide. It was a book that was slow to succeed in terms of sales but grew in popularity as more and more fans of the zombie genre heard about it and recommended it to like-minded friends. Just like the subject matter Brooks worte about this guide spread in a geometric pattern and more and more people began to know.
In 2006, Brooks released the companion piece to his best-selling guide with the fictional oral history account of the aftermath of a zombie apocalyptic war and how humanity fought back from the brink of extinction. This novel was World War Z and even before one could say “this book could be made into a film…” the film rights to the book became a hot commodity in Hollywood. In the end, Brad Pitt’s Plan B production company won the right to adapt the novel into a feature-length film.
After several years of trying to create a screenplay from the documentary-style and sprawling narrative of the novel the film finally went into production in mid-2011 with a screenplay that took some of the important events from the novel and set the film during the war itself as it unfolded instead of flashbacks as recounted by those who survived. This change has angered fans of the book and their anger and frustration went up another notch when some leaked on-the-set footage showing the zombies as more of the running-style zombies than the slower ones in the novel.
Another stumbling block pushed the film from a holiday 2012 release date to a summer 2013 release as Paramount looked to having World War Z as part of their 2013 summer blockbuster slate of films. This film has had so much issues and problems that it took to Brad Pitt finally agreeing to headline the cast to get the film finally made. So, instead of a film the chronicles the stories of the war’s survivors a decade after the war ended we now have a film that skews more towards a film that’s heavy on action set-pieces and globe-trotting. Someone on IGN.com has called World War Z (after seeing the attached official trailer) as 2012 with zombies. The first official trailer does seem to make it look like that.
As a fan of the novel I’m saddened by the changes, but I will say that the trailer does make this film look very epic. I’m more than willing to watch this film (who am I kidding I will watch this film and probably more than once or twice.) and look at it as the filmmakers’ own take on the novel. I mean if it turns out to be great on it’s own then hooray. If it sucks then I still have my novel to go back to. Plus, this is the first zombie film that will show the pandemic in global settings and proportions. This will be the first time we get to see this on film and not just on the written page.
My own review of the novel gives an idea just how different the film will be from the source material.
Trailer source: Joblo Movie Network