Books vs. Movies: World War Z


If you have read this blog in the past, you know that I’m a zombiephile.

I can credit my bonus son, Chris, for introducing me to the genre when he brought his DVD set of “The Walking Dead Season 1” down to Texas one summer.

I have been a voracious consumer of zombie culture since. And last night, we scraped together the funds to see World War Z.

Here is my analysis of the book vs. the movie:

I read the book last fall, and I wondered what took me so long to finally read it.  I thought it was so great, it spawned this blog.  Here is the original post.

The movie is almost 80% different than the book.  The main character in the book is interviewing survivors of the zombie apocalypse over a decade after the dead started walking.  He goes from city to city, talking to a variety of people about how they survived.

In the movie, it is in real time.  The main character (Brad Pitt), is experiencing the walking dead first hand, and the movie follows his travels to uncover the source and possible cure for the zombie plague.

Some elements are the same, the plague originates in Asia (although in the book, it’s in China, in the movie, to be more pc, it starts in S. Korea).

Israel is seen as a safe haven, and they learn pretty quickly what is going on and take measures to secure Jerusalem.  But in the movie, that too is altered.

And dogs apparently know what is up and bark at the undead.

And that is where the similarities to the book end.

Brad Pitt’s character, Gerry, escapes near death multiple times and goes on to find himself in Wales at a W.H.O research facility where he attempts to find a cure.

The major difference, other than the real-time thing, is that Gerry has a family.  The well-being of his family motivates everything that he does.  He goes on this wild goose chase across the apocalyptic globe to win the assurances from the U.S. government that his family can remain safely at sea with the Navy (that was another difference).

That said, there are some fantastic new additions that made the movie ever so tantalizing to us zombiephiles.  Think “zombies on a plane”.  Nuff said.

Also, the zombies are a bit…um….different.  You can tell from the trailer that they are super-human fast and they jump like grasshoppers, which is another major difference from traditional zombie lore, and the book.  That just makes the movie version even more heart pounding.

And the zombies don’t necessarily “eat” people.  If you understand anything about the nature of viruses and some bacteria, their whole goal in life is to reproduce and infect.  This idea is carried out brilliantly in the movie.  The zombies take a bite and then move on to infect more and more.  And the transformation occurs in seconds, rather than minutes or hours.

I think this element is to lend a sort of believability to the entire movie in that it builds off of the factual body of knowledge concerning viruses.

The movie carries a PG-13 rating, and we took my 11 year old bonus son to see the movie, and he did fine.  Granted, he is the one that introduced us to the genre, so we expected as much.

There is more violence in one hour of “The Walking Dead” than in this entire movie.

There were particular parts of the movie where I expected more violence, like when Gerry stomped on a zombies head, but the camera moved away from seeing the actual stomping.

There were some things that I would have loved to see in the movie that was omitted.  Namely the people that survived by making tree houses, the Navy that spent the entire plague under the sea, and the exile to Antartica.

That said, I think that the book and the movie are both equal in terms of quality.

If you are a fan of the book, you will squeal with glee when watching the movie.

Think of the book as the stock of a good chicken soup recipe.  The bones of the story are there, the directors and writers of the movie add specific ingredients to make it that much better.

Highly, highly recommended for anyone who likes horror, zombies, and thrillers.  Or just Brad Pitt.  Amazing book and movie.


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