Monday, 16 December 2013

Book (and Film) Club - World War Z

Book Club - World War Z

Written by Max Brooks (also author of The Zombie Survival Guide and The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks) and published back in 2006, World War Z is a refreshing take on the Zombie Apocalypse storyline.

His version is a collection of interviews with survivors of the Great Panic, set many years after both the outbreaks and the desperate early stages of the war. These snippets become pieces of a puzzle leaving the reader to fill the gaps, and telling the story of this (fictional) significant period in the human history in a surprisingly realistic manner. 

Looking beyond the gore and the medical questions of the 'living dead' Brooks tells the story through interviews with everyone from political and military leaders to every day Joe's, the humane reaction, the disbelief that cost some and the early reactions that saved others. The hard decisions and the human spirit, showcasing the good and bad. 

This is not a book I would have voluntarily picked up, but fortunately one of my girls gave it as a part of a birthday present. 

It only takes a few pages and the hook is in, after that you won't want to put it down until the last interview. There's gore, of course, but nothing too uncomfortable and it all remains relevant to the story. 

While the 'reporter'/'author' is never known in any sense beyond his function as interviewer, something about his questions and pursuit of a full account of the 'Z' chapter does keep the reader invested not only in understanding more of the story but also in a rather abstract manner in him/her.

In many ways the author seems to have created a piece that should read much like a historical collection. It was a surreal reminder of reading old Historical accounts through everything from court documents (cross examinations from Ancient Athens anyone?) to letters or even real interviews from war-times through the times. So all in all, a most enjoyable read. 

Four out of Five cute kittens

Film Club - World War Z

The main reason I was sceptical about the book (based purely on the trailer not appealing to me personally, not because it appeared to lack in film-goodness). 

The film, starring Brad Pitt and directed by Marc Foster (Machine Gun Preacher, Quantum of Solace, The Kite Runner, Finding Neverland, Monster's Ball), is loosley based on the book with references to similar events but with enough striking differences that it tells a whole new story.

Firstly, for some background, Plan B Entertainment (co-founded by Pitt, Aniston and Gardner but now solely owned by the film's lead) secured the film rights back in -07, a year after the book's publication. It went through multiple re-writes, with the first script coming from Michael Carnahan (Lions for Lamb, State of Play). The shoot, starting in 2011 at a $125 million budget, was rumoured to be less than smooth, and the slated 2012 December release was pushed. 

Damon Lindelof (Lost (TV), Cowboys & Alients, Star Trek: Into the Darkness) tried to rewrite the third act but due to time constraints the new script was finished by Drew Goddard (Lost, Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (all TV), Cloverfield). 

It premiered in June 2013, grossing $540 million making it a box office hit with mostly positive reviews. 

As a stand-alone film it's another take on the Zombie-theme. The ideas mix with the book's storyline but step away in some significant ways (such as the Zombie's behaviours and infection process, as well as the hunt for a potential vaccine/cure). 

We follow Pitt's character from when the outbreak booms in the states. A former UN employee, important enough to warrant extraction and safety for his family, he finds himself part of the core group sent out to find either patient X or enough information to understand/cure/vaccinate the escalating Zombie plague.

It does provide action and entertainment, with the classic leading character struggling between service/finding a real solution and trying to keep his family safe. Pitt is his usual strong stellar self, but there isn't too much awe-inspiring content to work with. A big plus is the focus on human reaction and the chase and action over gore and guts.

It was an enjoyable watch with the occasional sudden-scares. Having read the book (as usual) did mean the differences started to annoy me early on but as soon as you accept they are two very different stories on a similar theme it is an entertaining weekend watch. 

It doesn't blow any minds or tingle the senses all that much, but then again it's an action movie with big (but not all too annoyingly extravagant) explosions about a Zombie outbreak that never needs to pretend to be anything beyond that.

Three out of Five cute kittens 


  • 1 comment:

    1. Book is better, but the movie got its job done, too. Good review.