World War Z Movie Details Revealed - Children of Men With Zombies?
One day prior to the exact day last year that we first announced Max Brooks' World War Z was being adapted, we finally hear some details on how the movie will play out. I remember first writing the news and becoming immediately excited despite having not actually read the book. And over the last year I've run into countless people who keeping telling me how great the book is. The script was written by comic book author J. Michael Straczynski, who most recently wrote Clint Eastwood's Changeling and was one of the creators of "Babylon 5". AICN just got their hands on the finished script and have reported back with a very positive reaction.
Moriarty's enthusiasm for Straczynski's script is through the roof. "I love this script. Love every dark, somber, upsetting page of it. This is a horror epic, a serious, sober-minded adult picture waiting to be made, and it's one of the best pieces of screenwriting craft I've encountered in a while." Before we get into the meat of the movie, though, let's take a look at the book again so we're clear on what it actually contains. "The book is an oral history of the great zombie wars, compiled by a nameless editor as part of a government report."
Ten years after the human victory over the world wide Zombie epidemic, referred to as World War Z, Max Brooks scours the world collecting the stories and experiences of those who have survived the conflict that almost eradicated humanity.
It is in essence just oral recollections from survivors of World War Z. This is not your typical zombie book and this won't be your typical zombie movie. Moriarty goes as far as to call the movie potentially "a genre-defining piece of work" that could even get people "arguing about whether or not a zombie movie qualifies as Best Picture material." Wow, that's quite a powerful statement, but then again, we don't even know what to expect yet. It's time to get into the details.
"In the first five pages, we see GERRY LANE collecting stories, and the first two interviews are with a flight attendant and a border guard. Both manage to play as horror shock beats, but the way they're told also sets the tone right away... JMS is after the human truth underneath the horror, and in a way, that makes it much, much harder to take."
From what I can interpret, the movie follows this particular archiver / journalist, named Gerry Lane (who might be played Brad Pitt), around as he travels the world conducting interviews with survivors. Again, from what I can interpret, it's almost like a documentary, but set in a post-zombie-apocalyptic world with much more to it than just talking heads.
"The world of the film reminds me of CHILDREN OF MEN on the page. Realistic but set in the near-future, in the aftermath of the zombie wars. We see a flashback to Gerry being given his assignment to write a report about 'where the system worked, where it didn't, how and in what ways the various organizational infrastructures failed.' It's a politically shitty job because no one wants to know that they were responsible for anything that went wrong. Gerry's hesitant because it's going to take at least six months away from his family, just as the world is starting to right itself. He takes the job, and as he travels to his first interview, we see how hard travel has become. I hate going through airport security these days, but at least I don't have to strip naked and subject myself to a blood test. Yet."
Moriarty goes on to describe Gerry's first interview with Dr. Tsai in China. In addition, he praises Straczynski for doing "a great job of etching the details of a world that has already faced its darkest moments and is now trying to put things back in order." What it sounds like the movie is really becoming is one that, while recalling some of the horrific moments from World War Z, instead focuses on the post-apocalyptic world that the survivors now all live in.
"Tsai's account of his first encounter with zombies at New Dachang is awful and horrific, and right away, it's apparent that a combination of bureaucracy and military strategy is responsible for a sort of passive evil, and Tsai feels enormous guilt about it. He leads Gerry to his next interview, which leads him to his next, and one of the things that the script does so well is depict survivors who are starting to wonder if survival is a victory of any kind. There's a story about black market organs that is just brutal, an off-the-record conversation with a CIA friend, and an insane beach sequence that I can't wait to see on film. All in the first 50 pages."
My next question, which Moriarty doesn't seem to answer, is whether each of these interviews turns into a flashback that is depicted on screen. Or whether we just get the talking head plus some sort of other dynamic imagery. I'm guessing, considering this was described as "epic", that each of the stories we hear will indeed be shown. As in, a post-World War Z narrative that is weaved with stories from the past that, if directed correctly, could be fashioned into an incredibly fulfilling look at the world before, during, and after World War Z.
While Moriarty does mention that this was a draft dated April 2007, it did feel complete enough to go into production right away. So, as always, don't take anything you read in here as solid fact, but rather a report from someone who read a draft of a script that was over 11 months old. The key point here is that the direction the movie seems to be heading is absolutely brilliant. I wish I could have read the script myself, but for now we'll have to go on Moriarty's word.
We haven't heard any updates recently, but the film isn't in production and is still looking for a director. Hopefully someone as amazing as Children of Men's Alfonso Cuarón takes on this project - because it couldn't succeed without them.
Does this sound like J. Michael Straczynski has pulled off a brilliant script for a challenging adaptation? Or is this taking it too far for something as mundane as a zombie movie?