Sunday, July 7, 2013

WWZ Follow-Up

Happy belated Independence Day!

I know this is a book blog, not a movie blog, but since I saw the WWZ movie on the 4th, I wanted to write a follow up comparing it with the book.

As I said in my book review, there's no way the movie could possibly follow the book, so I had high hopes. And they were not misplaced. The movie was really excellent. I recommend it.

For one thing, it wasn't really gory – a rarity among the zombie genre and a breath of fresh air. This also opens it up to a wider audience of those who don't go for the gross-out aspect of most zombie movies. They do such a great job of making the zombies terrifying, but not gory. Even attacks aren't really bloody. The zombies are fast (love that!) and animalistic. They also stay true to the book's idea the zombies use sound to track prey. And that the moans (bordering on screams in the movie) are used to communicate between them, signaling the presence of prey.

A quick sketch of the plot: Brad Pitt plays a former UN investigator who is drafted back into service and sent into this new insane world to figure out how to fight the zombie menace. The movie is fast paced but not manic. One thing I thought they did really well was work in aspects of the book without getting weighed down by them. For example, the atomic exchange by Pakistan and Iran. Brad Pitt is on his way to Israel and sees the blast from the plane. It's never really explained. Which, to me, makes it more poignant. What does it really matter how or why after it's happened? All those people are already dead.

Speaking of Israel, it's my only complaint – and a minor one at that. I didn't mind that Israel was over run in the movie. You never really find out in the book, and I like to think they survived mostly intact. Maybe I like that idea because it shows that action and preparation was rewarded. Anyway, that's not my complaint. My complaint was that its implied Israel knew and didn't share the information with the rest of the world. In the book, they shared; they present it to the UN. Just no one listens. Now, I guess, if they had shared, maybe it would have undermined the plot, but I don't think so. By not sharing, it's the easy answer for why Brad Pitt has to go traipsing around the globe. But he still would have had to go looking for an immunity or something, right? There could have been another way to do it, without making Israel look like hoarders.

Despite that, it's not the US-centric movie I (unconsciously) braced for. Brad Pitt works for the UN. His wife is British. Only the very beginning even takes place in the US. The ship they're on and most of the military on board are US, but battle of Yonkers depicted in the book isn't even mentioned, let alone shown.

However, because they made Israel look like hoarders, they missed the opportunity to focus on the idea that the governments of the world let its citizens down by not paying attention to Israel's claims. The movie Israel still lets in refugees, but that political message of the book is barely hinted at. Overall, I feel like the social and political message the book tried to put across was missed in the movie. Or, not missed…weak is a better word. The message was there, it was just weak.

The movie of course does not take us to the end of the war – you cannot cram a decade into a 2 hour movie without sacrificing quality . I would guess maybe a week passes from the opening (a morning scene at home) to the end (a reunion in Canada). Though, I hope that doesn't mean they're planning a sequel.

One thing I must caution book lovers about, however, is the idea that there is some defense against Zeke (one of my favorite terms from the book – right up there with Charlie or Ivan). In the book, zombies are a relentless…forces of nature. Like locusts (these are still in my head from Unholy Night, review to come), they just feed. All you can do is kill them. There is no rhythm or reason, no immunity or advantage. The movie provides more hope. This is a virus and, therefore, must have a weakness.

It's up to the reader/watcher which approach they prefer.

Still, go see it. It's worth the exorbitant ticket price. (As long as you don't have to sit next to someone who thinks it's their living room and won't shut. The fuck. Up.)

Happy 4th, guys!

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