World War Z Movie Script Review

A couple of people have emailed me after I posted that I had read the movie script adaption of Max Brooks’ World War Z and asked me to provide a bit more depth to it, so in order to please…

It follows the same idea as the book – which is basically interviews with people who survived when the zombies rose and the ten-year ‘war’ that followed. What it adds to it though, is more of a story to the actual narrator.

Where the script works well is that it runs as an accompaniment to the book. It tells a few of the same stories – including the Chinese outbreak, the Jewish solution, the interview with the drug seller and the Battle of Yonkers – but a lot of it isn’t the same as the book (and some of what is, is tweaked around). Sadly, that means the South African and Chinese submarine chapters are gone.

But that’s the beauty of this topic: both are presenting tales from the war. There’s scope for both (and plenty sequels if Brooks decided to spin it out).

If anything, that may be the main criticism of the script: it’s a chopped down-version of the book. That may sound like a strange comment but given that we live in an age where a film like Wanted bares next to no relation to Mark Millar’s original, this is very much the other tact.

What I did like was that there’s a lot more about the narrator, but again it doesn’t contradict the book. There’s a nice metacommentary to the script that could have you believe the book we have is the book from the film (if that sort of thing suits you).

Also, the narrator’s tale has a nice twist to it, going one way and then spinning on it at the last minute in the most poignant way.

The biggest thing that may upset some is that there’s no real scientific explanation for what kicks off the zombie invasion. No mentions of a passing comet, Hell being full or even Solanum. We’re just presented very matter-of-factly with the fact that there was a war with zombies. (it also never answers the question that stuck in my mind reading it: does it mean that everyone who dies now becomes a zombie?)

This was an adaptation that was passed round a lot of decent writers and quite a few pitched for it. I’ve heard of one other take on it – though I’m sworn to secrecy on it – but I think J. Michael Straczynski has done a decent job here. His strength is in monologues and people believing in higher truths and noble goals, tinged with hope and that all plays out well here.

The real challenge is going to be in seeing who can bring this to life (pardon the pun). I’d go for someone like Paul Greengrass as director and Clive Owen as the lead because it needs someone with those sunken eyes – the look of someone who has been to Hell, came back and discovered something even worse (having said that, if Brad Pitt’s two new babies give him a lot of sleepless nights he might be perfect).

Would it be worth going to see? Oh definitely, but fans looking for a massive reinvention of the book would probably come away disappointed as it may not have their favourite scene in it. For other people, it could still be worth a watch.

Where this film would be a total gift though is for the marketing team. You could have outrage by religions, ARG’s, YouTube videos pretending to be public safety announcements in how to deal with a zombie, Googlemaps of outbreaks, community websites and wikis set up showing rebuilding, a rebranded version of Urban Dead… (though I’d love to see a zombie version of The Sims) the possibilities are endless.

One thing we wouldn’t need is a Twitter from the zombie apocalypse as it’s already been done…