Friday, June 7, 2013

&@#^*@!: or, why I can't wait for World War Z

Summer is the season of movies. If you avoid sunlight, heat, non-walled natural spaces, and the beach (*shudder*) like I do, the escapism provided by summer blockbusters is even more anticipated. Forget the lazy river, a bucket of popcorn and a medium movie theater soda (which, incidentally, contains as much liquid as the typical lazy river) is all I need to get me through the dog days until fall.

At the top of my Must See list this summer is, no surprise, World War Z.

Words cannot express how excited I am about this movie, so I generally resort to high-pitched monosyllabic utterances and flailing. I’ve done my best to avoid spoilers, which may be a bit silly since I’ve read the book several times. But, this is one movie that can’t follow the book closely. Not just can't, shouldn't.

I’ll admit, I can be one of those people who have a hard time enjoying movies that diverge too far from the books on which they are based. My level of frustration tends to coincide the degree of love I have for the book and how necessary the divergences are from a story point of view. Stardust? Some grumbling ensued. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban? CAPS!LOCK RAGE. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? Let’s just say there was an “incident” during which “things happened” and I was “escorted from the theater," and leave it at that.  

But, I’m keeping an open mind about World War Z. This is one of my favorite books of all time (in the top 3, easily). It’s just amazing. If you haven’t read it…well, what are you still doing here? Stop reading and go buy it NOW. Seriously, I've embedded links to the top 4 ebook retailers. Come back after you finish what will be one of the most emotional and satisfying literary adventures of your life. It’s okay, I’ll wait.

Glad to have you back. Are you okay? No? I understand. Crying is all right, we all cry sometimes. Was it the whales? I bet it was the whales. That got me, too. No, I can't even talk about the dog story. The feral kids? What are you trying to do to me over here, huh? It's all right, we'll get through it together. Come on, bring it in.
Group hug! Let go of all those zombie-induced feels.
As I was saying, I’m keeping an open mind about World War Z the movie, because if they tried to make the movie exactly like the book…it would be a catastrophe. World War Z isn’t a story that has one central character moving seamlessly from beginning to middle to end in a linear fashion. That’s not how Max Brooks shambles rolls. It’s more a series of vignettes (a word I just recently realized has a SILENT g *facepalm*). There is a beginning, middle, and end, but each section is comprised of many stories from different people recounting their experiences from the initial outbreak, the middle of the war, and/or in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. From the first signs of the undead in China, to the pandemic hitting African villages, to the Battle of Yonkers, and, finally, the energy expended by the living to take back a world that was overwhelmed. Seriously, the book is a ride. It hits all corners of the world and covers people from all walks of life, recounting their stories from different periods in their lives. Some narrators are reliable, some are not, and some have an agenda they're trying to push. All of the stories are fascinating and very few are connected. That’s why it wouldn’t make a good movie; not in its original state.

Movies are visual media, and the time we spend with a movie is far less than the time required by a novel. From the trailers (I’m avoiding internet spoilers, but figure the trailers are fair game), it looks like the movie will be following a main protagonist (Brad Pitt’s character) as he navigates the zombie-torn world in search of something that will save him, his family, and the rest of the planet. I think this is a great way to stage the movie, by giving audiences a core hero through whom we can experience the world.

Seriously? I’m counting down the days!

Are you looking forward to World War Z? How about any other summer blockbusters (Man of Steel  or This is the End, perhaps)? What are your favorite book-to-movie translation (Jurassic Park and The Green Mile are at the top of my list), and which ones completely missed the mark (here’s looking at you, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)?


  1. Ok, Now I must read the book. My son was certain that the movie I Am Legend doesn't follow the book. He then had to read it just to back up his claim.
    I'm with you on all the parts left out of the Harry Potter movies but they would have to be 6 hours long to get it all in. ;~}

  2. It's an excellent book, Page. I hope you enjoy it.

    (Also, I'm completely okay with 6 hour Harry Potter movies! :-D )

  3. I wouldn't mind 6 hour Harry Potter movies as well. I will say I felt the same about Prisoner of Azkaban - but I absolutely hated the Order of the Phoenix book but thoroughly enjoyed the movie (maybe because it wasn't like the book?) Ever since Gretchen MADE me read World War's been one of my favorite books. I agree whole heartedly on your reasoning behind the way the movie needs to go. I can't wait to see it. I - too - hate spoliers but love trailers. less than a fortnight before we get to see it! Yay!

  4. I'm a fan of World War Z too. I'm wondering how the stories will all come together in one tale. I hope the movie is half as good as the book. Speaking of zombie books have you read the ZomB series yet? It's not World War Z, but it's good.

  5. I'm with you, LaLa. I didn't mind the Order of the Phoenix movie, and that book was my absolute least favorite of the entire series (speaking of CAPS!LOCK RAGE, that descriptor fit Harry for the duration of the book).

    Yes, much arm twisting may have occurred before you read it, but aren't you glad you did? Have I ever steered you wrong? I generally only steer Kim wrong when it comes to books, and I swear that's not my fault. :-p

    We'll be holed up in the theater with popcorn and tissues soon!

  6. No Mia, I haven't heard of the ZomB series before, but thank you for the recommendation! I'm always on the lookout for recommendations of the zombie persuasion :) Thanks!

  7. Interesting post. I have been wondering about this issue,so thanks for posting.
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  8. You're a delightful nut, Gretchen. If there's a bad scene with whales I can't read it. So, is it in the movie too? I need to know.

    The two I can't wait for but I'm so afraid they'll be poorly done are Outlander on Starz and Name of the Wind somewhere, not sure which cable channel, both for next year. Can NOT NOT wait to see Jamie and Claire hit the screen. Better tv, because if they made a movie, it would be trash in one three hour episode.


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