23.6.13

BURT MALONE LETTERS: World War Z.

Burt Malone just sent me this lengthy email after seeing this weekend’s blockbuster zombie film, “World War Z”, and I figured it was a nice opportunity to give Lovelock and Starkwell some time off to recover.

[...]

If you’ve read the book you know that Max Brooks is all about the slowburn of the Romero-style shuffling zombie.  Within the first five minutes of the movie, it’s pretty clear that they threw that out the window along with Max Brooks’ blessing and probably a shitload of initial drafts of the script.

The only two things that this seems to have in common with the book are the title and the fact that it takes place in the ‘world’.  These zombies are not only NOT slow at all, but in fact they are MEGA EXTREME TO THE MAX.  Also, there is no war.  Now, given the recent popularity of a television show based on a comic book based on the Romero model of the zombie (slow, shuffling, menacing, flesh-eating, blargh), perhaps Brad and the 'Plan B' people figured they needed to take it in a different direction.  In an age when the Romero zombie movie has been done time and time again, as a comedy, drama, horror etc… perhaps Brad and the 'Plan B' people figured they needed to take it in a different direction.

Hmmm.

Guess what?  I can respect that.  I can respect originality.  But when you change something that is overtly stated by the source material’s author as WHAT A ZOMBIE IS, it’s insanely disrespectful, to both the author and to fans of the book.  So maybe you should consider changing the title, or something.  Fast moving, non-flesh-eating, collective consciousness (?) zombies that sound like velociraptors, react to sound like the T-Rex in "Jurassic Park" and have disease-detecting eyes ARE NOT WHAT MAX BROOKS FUCKING HAD IN MIND.  The zombies bite, but don't eat people?  Huh?

When Peter Jackson made “Lord the Rings” into a movie, he didn’t decide “hey, why don’t we give the hobbits shiny wings and flying abilities and make Gandalf a cyborg”.  You know why he didn’t decide that?  Because he is not a piece of shit, that’s why.  

“Maybe the dwarves should be way tall and the elves can shoot fireballs from their assholes.”

Moving on.

If you’ve read this book, you know that there’s no way to make it into a movie anyways.  I mean, how do you turn a large chunk of kind of unrelated documented events into a chronological film with characters?  You can’t, and you shouldn’t even try.  The actual “World War Z” as it exists in the book would be a war that would take hours and hours of screen time to develop.  It would have to be a mini-series or a TV show.  And in an era where, again, there is already a popular TV show essentially showing EXACTLY that, what would be the point in making another one?

Well, Brad Pitt would be in it, so I suppose people would still watch it.

So how do you take an outbreak and ‘war’ that would take dozens of hours to show properly, and somehow squeeze it into two hours?

FAST FORWARD EVERYTHING.  And I mean everything.  The world dies OVERNIGHT.

The zombies move in fast forward, and to be honest, so does the story.  The central character is not Brad Pitt, his family, or even the zombies themselves.  The central character is INVESTIGATION.  Because they just don’t have time to really give a shit about anything else, like details, developing characters, talking about the zombies or the virus AT ALL... all that stuff.

To be honest, the lack of character development doesn't stop me from liking Brad Pitt's character (as well as some of the side peoples), which is actually frustrating, because it just keeps reminding me how much better it could have been had the writers not been so lazy (or if they had at least read the book).  Considering the book is ENTIRELY made up of people telling horror stories of the great zombie war, you’d think that this film might at least try to have at least one scene wherein someone talks about how they lost their family or whatever (there is one scene where a guy mentions he lost his wife and kids, but it's not exactly a detailed story, more like "I lost my wife and kid").  But then I realize why that couldn’t happen in this movie.  With these ‘human tidal wave’ zombies, you can’t really witness anything and get away to tell stories about it.

If you see them, then you’re probably already dead.

So how did that guy manage to see his wife and kid die and get away?  And how did that Thomas kid get out of the apartment with a gun (spoiler alert (?) ) and manage to get up the stairs and save the day?

What the fuck.

There’s a montage shown in the last five minutes that speaks of (and kind of shows) epic ‘humans versus zombies’ battles, that at least SOMEWHAT resembles some of what is documented in the book.  So… the events in this movie take place before anything documented in the book?  Well, now I’m just more confused.  And in the end, we still have no answers.  We don’t even know whether or not humanity is going to make it. That would be fine ordinarily in a zombie film, except that, in the book (that this is supposedly based on), WE DID MAKE IT.  The whole book is after the zombie war ended.

FOR FUCK’S SAKE.

Now.  Having said all of that.  I still enjoyed the shit out of this movie.

But... any merit that there is herein, and anyone else out there that enjoyed it, isn’t going to be able to save it from the barrage of pissed off fans of the book that will tear this thing a new asshole for being NOTHING like the source material.  Or critics expecting character development or emotion.  Or people wanting to see Romero zombies.  Really, that’s a shame, because there are some good ideas sprinkled around in here.  Like I said, lots of potential, which only makes watching it even more frustrating.

It's like taking all of the ingredients needed to make a delicious cake, but then instead making an omelette and not telling anyone where you hid the fucking cocoa powder.

"Didn't you follow the recipe?", asked Malone.  "Recipe?", replied the cooks.

It just needed to develop its characters more, develop some of its ideas a little more, and, obviously, NOT be called “World War Z”.  Because, guess what?  This isn’t “World War Z”.  It’s just a pretty good popcorn movie, which is still way more than I can say about a lot of modern day blockbusters.

Yeah, I’m looking at you, “Man of Steel”.

That's it.  I ate too much popcorn and need to go have a good sit.

[...]

Burt ain’t exactly a Zack Snyder fan, although he did mention to me that even his 're-imagination' of Romero’s "Dawn" was nothing even close to the TOTAL obliteration of the source material that “World War Z” was.  And the Oscar for "least like the book" goes to...

22 comments:

  1. Anonymous08:10

    This is much better Kev, an ultra-mainstream Hollywood Blockbuster zombie movie straight out of the multi-plexes, try and stay exclusively with the really well known zombie movies like this one from now on OK, because, like i said before, all that obscure rubbish gets on my bloody nerves.

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    1. Kev gonna do what Kev gonna do.

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  2. jimmie t. murakami08:17

    I think this movie might be re-appraised a few years from now as being a supreme masterwork of the zombie/horror genre, the Citizen Kane of zombie movies, as it were.

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    1. No. No it really won't.

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  3. Jennifer Croissant08:30

    "World War Z" has taken $66 million in North America alone over the week-end, its incredible to realise that probably more than half of that money was taken specifically because of Americas current obsession with "The Walking Dead" rather than any fore-knowledge regarding this movies actual quality (or possible lack there-of).

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    1. I'm no sure if that made any sense.

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  4. What's hilarious about this bloated end result is that they could have so EASILY made this a very inexpensive film. Take the book's concept, turn it into a sit-down fake documentary using amateur found footage (which is all the rage right now) using POV from cell phones, webcams, whatever else. You could have made that movie for $5 mil, remained faithful to the book, and done something ballsy and memorable.

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    1. I agree... let's make it!

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  5. Clavelly Reductionist15:40

    When people are watching a movie they shouldn`t concern themselves with the book that the movie was based on at all, all they should be thinking about is whether the movie is entertaining them or not, to hell with the book, you`re watching a movie, RIGHT ! ! !.

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    1. Kind of. But it still says BASED ON... which... if that's a big lie, than it doesn't say much.

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  6. jervaise brooke hamster15:44

    "World War Z" is a great movie because its American, where-as "28 Days Later" and "28 Weeks Later" were both garbage because they were British.

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    1. Let's agree to disagree.

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  7. I always love reading your stuff! Nice write up!

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    1. Thanks man, keep up the good work on your side too :)

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  8. Even though it’s better than I expected it to be, it’s still poor in its script. Nice review Kev.

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    1. Yeah, maybe I went in with such low expectations that ANYTHING would have appeared pretty good. Thanks!

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  9. Great review, and good point about the title. It could have been better if it focused on the actually war going on. However, it was PG-13 so they focused on Gerry instead. Oh well! I haven't read the book, but did hear the movie is nothing like it from others too.

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    1. Yeah I can get over how it's nothing like the book... I'm interested to see what I will think when I watch this one a second or third time.

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  10. I'm glad you got some kick out of WWZ, but as you already know, I couldn't do anything with it =)

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    1. Ha! Yeah. I understand everyone's frustration with the film, but I just can't bring myself to FULLY hate it.

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  11. "What's hilarious about this bloated end result is that they could have so EASILY made this a very inexpensive film. Take the book's concept, turn it into a sit-down fake documentary using amateur found footage (which is all the rage right now) using POV from cell phones, webcams, whatever else. You could have made that movie for $5 mil, remained faithful to the book, and done something ballsy and memorable"

    ^^ This!

    WWZ is the worst movie of the year so far for me. I just hated it!

    K :-)

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    1. Yeah, it was probably the least faithful to a book I have ever seen.

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