Movies based on books usually sway away from the unique story the book tells and focuses on the target audiences that easily fall prey to horrible movie adaptations and World War Z is no exception. Hollywood movies are all about action and captivating visual effects in order to catch the simple minded viewer. There are many similarities and differences between the book and the movie. However, there are more differences than similarities because the movie is drastically different from the book.
It is so different that some individuals would say the only similarity between the book written by Max Brooks and the movie directed by Marc Foster is the title, World War Z. Some key similarities and differences is how the US is portrayed, how society changes, and how the story is told. Paramount Pictures, a film distribution and producing studio, is an American business. How is this relevant? An American company wouldn’t go out of their way to make a movie degrading their country and in the book, they do just that.
In the book, America is first portrayed as an overconfident country that could take care of the zombie apocalypse. Eventually, when the infected started over running cities, America decided to put a stop to it by taking defense. The US had state of the art military technology set up to fight off the horde however; the infected still was able to overrun the military. This event was called the Battle of Yonkers because it took place in Yonkers, New York (Brooks 92). After this, America is in shambles and public confidence in the government was completely eliminated.
This resulted in the Great Panic, which was when the world realized the real threat of the infected. However, in the movie, America is the hero and the savior of the world. Gerry Lane, the UN interviewer in the book, who happens to be American, finds out how to save them-selves from the zombies. He analyzes that people with terminal illnesses are ignored by the infected and determines that injecting himself with a deadly pathogen would be the best “vaccine” they had. The movie then shows how the American “hero” finds a “vaccine” and how the humans now can fight back.
That is a truly stupid idea and was never even mentioned in the book. The only thing the book got close to mentioning a vaccine was when Breckenridge “Breck” Scott created the drug called Phalanx which was nicknamed “the African Rabies Vaccine”(Brooks 54). However, it turned out to be nothing but a hoax that was used to scare people into buying the drug in order to make quick and easy money. Despite the many greedy and arrogant things America did in the book, they still contributed to the world.
They were able to create the Redeker plan which told people to go north (Brooks 121). Going north caused the infected to freeze and become immobile until the spring. They also eventually bounced back in the book but only to have a harsher environment such as more primitive punishments, a much more powerful president, and refugee camps. The United States in the book is powerless and broken but in the movie they are heroes of the zombie apocalypse. The infected changed so many aspects of society, some good ways and some bad.
Zombie apocalypse or not, people will always take advantage of chaos and do greedy things. People looted, stole, and even killed in a greedy manner to ensure their own survival, ignoring others around them. However, there are people in the story determined to rebuild society that have good hearts. Roy Elliot is a good example of this. He was a very successful movie director before the war and people thought his skills were useless during the war.
However, he was determined to find a way to help out humanity. A. D. S, or Asymptomatic Demise Syndrome, was a syndrome that caused people to lose their will to live on because they thought it was hopeless to fight and Roy Elliot wanted to help people that had or was developing A. D. S by filming humanity fighting against the infected and winning (Brooks 159). He distributed those films around camps and the A. D. S cases were dropping fast. He was successful in helping society even though he had skills that no one thought would be useful. However, in the film, neither Roy Elliot nor A. D. S was mentioned.
The only people that put effort into rebuilding are Gerry Lane, the UN, and all the conveniently placed characters that happened to cross Gerry Lane’s path. However, the film only took place within the Great Panic where the people had no information except that the dead rise and kill the living and Gerry Lane and his family are actually portrayed as people who have no idea what is going on and have to survive, just like others shown in the movie. In the film, there is a scene where Gerry Lane and his family go to the super market because his kid has asthma and they needed medicine.
This scene really did show how society can break down in a matter of hours. A police officer is shown in the scene but was there for selfish reasons and the men that tried to take advantage of Gerry Lane’s wife through the chaos. However, through the chaos, Gerry Lane meets an armed teenager that looks he is hoarding the drugs but he actually is protecting the pharmacy from others that would use it for recreational purposes. By the end of the scene, Gerry Lane is able to get his medicine but the vehicle they took to the store had been stolen so they had to get to a highpoint in order to get rescued by the UN.
He is then greeted by a Latino family that takes them in and gives them aid.. Even though all the selfishness shown in the movie the viewer gets to see news reports that show people cooperating and working together to get past the zombie apocalypse. Even though the movie showed it in a cliche way, both the book and the movie showed the good and the bad people of society. A huge thing the movie completely overlooked was how the book presented the story. The book is a series of interviews. Each chapter is an interview and is told in a first person perspective of the person being interviewed with some interjections by the interviewer (Brooks 1).
The people that are interviewed are people from all around the world from different ethnicities to show the whole spectrum of the zombie apocalypse. On the other hand, the movie is all about one man and his journey to find the vaccine to fight against the infected. The movie watcher has a narrower perspective of the apocalypse because it shows the event through one man’s eyes rather than a range of people. The book shows how devastating the apocalypse really is and how all the different people reacted and dealt with the problems.
The movie might’ve not been able to incorporate every single interview from the book but they could’ve easily included the significant interviews. Instead, the movie decided to use just one man to tell the story of the apocalypse. The movie kind of stretched it a little too far when they sent one man all over the world to show the state of the Great Panic in other countries because they could have easily done what the book did which was using different people from different areas and see how they experienced the apocalypse in their homes rather than a foreigner.
Many people on web forums say the movie is a good movie if you don’t think of it as the book because Gerry Lane’s adventures provide the viewers with plenty of action. However, if the movie were to have most of even just some of the significant interviews the movie could have been more explosive and action packed than the movie could have ever been. People that go to see the movies expecting a great adaption of the book may leave the movie angry and betrayed.
The movie completely butchered a book that had so much potential. The movie was trying to appeal to both readers and non-readers of the book but only appealed to the non-readers. The movie adaptation is a decent summer movie if you watch it either keeping the book out of your mind or you haven’t read the book. If one wanted to enjoy the experience of World War Z they should read the book and forget a movie ever existed.