Meat Meet Wall (A Review of World War Z)

Posted: June 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

So I went to see World War Z this weekend, and it was pretty much everything I expected — which is to say 1) a delivery system for a visually impressive horde of zombies running into full tilt into walls with an enthusiasm not seen since the most recent Tough Mudder and 2) absolutely nothing at all like the book.

I was first exposed to World War Z the novel when I borrowed it from a friend of mine about four years ago and repeatedly forgot to return it. As pretty much everyone on the planet knows at this point, it’s a zombie book written in the style of Studs Terkel’s “The Good War”, which endeavored to capture the breadth and diversity of experience in World War Two through a series of first-person interviews.

World War Z the novel made into a movie would be something along the lines of “Ken Burns Meets Slow Zombies”. On the surface, this seems like an excellent idea — The everyman perspective! The texture of daily life! The panning in various directions across pictures! However, the problem with this is that a Ken Burns documentary, the subjects of which were in general originally fairly fast-moving, is possibly one of the few things that are slower than slow zombies. Making a Ken Burns documentary ABOUT slow zombies would either cause the universe to die in ice or actually manage to wrap around in terms of pacing to produce a nearly plotless action-filled movie about a dude running away from zombies running into walls.

World War Z the movie made into a novel would be… mercifully short. Although the universe seems to have at least the potential for depth (at least if a few exceedingly sloppy bits were edited), the basic deal of the movie is that everyone on the planet who isn’t officially part of the running-into-walls dead have been relieved of their brains and reduced to sitting around playing Solitaire on fancy monitors (the soldiers), looking worried (the Scientists (TM)), or looking woeful (the Hero Dude’s Fambly) until Hero Dude shows up and can restore life and thought to the people.

Did I mention that the zombies run into walls? Because they totally do. It’s kind of awesome.

At this point, this kind of sounds like a negative review. I actually enjoyed the movie a great deal, though. The zombies are terrifying and at the same time intriguing, the action is actiony, and just when my squirrel-like attention span was searching for the pause button that I might take a break to read seven different web articles simultaneously… Buzzcut Israeli Soldier Lady hove into view, and I was once again safely entranced for the rest of the movie.

All in all, I think World War Z is an excellent break from one’s humdrum daily existence of consuming fiendishly complicated TV shows in season-sized blocks. At least providing that buzzcuts do for you what they do for me.

  1. Holly says:

    Haven’t seen the movie, but I don’t know that the book would have made a boring movie. Quickly changing between 5 different main characters – for a 2 hour movie that’s only 20 minutes per character + 20 minutes setup.

    • Tinker says:

      They probably could have done better than Ken Burns — theoretically, because trying something new might actually kill the big-time movie folks — but I don’t think the spirit of the book would fit well in a movie. It might make an awesome miniseries, though, especially since that seems to be where all the creativity has gone lately.

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