World War Z's Scale Will Be Phenomenal, Says Straczynski

December 4, 2008
Source: MTV

World War Z

Apparently J. Michael Straczynski had quite a long chat with MTV, because he dished out some early details on World War Z in addition to his Forbidden Planet remake that we already wrote about. A few weeks back, it was announced that Quantum of Solace director Marc Forster would be directing the project, a decision I was considerably excited about. Now with Forster on board, Straczynski says he's "working with his notes to make one final pass on the script" and they're hoping to move it into production by the first of the year. So with high hopes, we're finally going to get our World War Z movie - and will it live up to all the expectations? Based on what Straczynski mentions, I don't think we have to be worried at all.

For those who don't know much about the book or didn't read our article on the script back in March, we'll go over the story again briefly. World War Z was originally a book that comprises numerous stories told by survivors of "World War Z", our war with the zombies. As Straczynski describes, "the fictional concept of the book is that its written by someone with the UN." So for the film, they decided to "show the book being written. We follow this guy all over the world as he goes on these interviews, and he has his own personal story as well. You’re cutting between the past and the present, how he got to this point." If you're already interested, then I suggest you pick up the book (Amazon) because it's apparently quite brilliant.

"It has that international feel to it, and because it goes backward and forward in time, we can cherry-pick our favorite moments in the book," Straczynski says. "Some of it is crazy in scale. It's huge. It's as political as the book was. And it ends with that book being completed." How big in scale? Well in March, it was described as something like Children of Men but with zombies ("realistic but set in the near-future, in the aftermath of the zombie wars"), although Straczynski's comparison is a bit different. "We talk about it as a thriller, the closest comparison being The Bourne Identity." Imagine that: set in a Children of Men-like future, a world destroyed by zombies, with a Bourne Identity-like storyline. Excited yet?

"Most zombie movies to this point have been small, focusing on a few people in a house. And this has got real scare. You're in India with hundreds of boats trying to get out of there with a tidal wave of zombies. The scale of what we're doing here is phenomenal." Maybe Straczynski is just a good speaker, because the way talks about his projects he always makes them sound amazing. And to me, this project sounds like the next big zombie revolution, or at least next big step in progressing the genre. Not only was I excited back in March, but also I thought Forster was a great choice, and now I'm even more excited to see this come together. The only other big question that remains: who will they cast as the lead?

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Being a huge zombie fan myself, I have no doubt that this will breathe life into the Zombie genre (wordplay intended)

Johnny Crow on Dec 4, 2008


The book is awesome, if you're even faintly interested in zombies you should pick it up. Hopefully the movie will live up to the book in scale.

Nick on Dec 4, 2008


This will deffinently be the next book for me to pick up and read. I'll start it soon. Get excited for this movie.

-Peter- on Dec 4, 2008


A great novel but I don't see how it can be translated to a movie successfully. There are no central characters (except the zombies). And Marc Forster is a terrible choice (and I loved Finding Neverland). Let's see: a story without direction directed by a director directing in a genre he can't direct in. This is nothing more that a Uwe Boll-like video game to movie exercise in milking a successful product for every last penny. This is Doomed.

RandyG on Dec 4, 2008


I think Forster can be successful directing this because zombies aren't fast. Marc can direct anything that is slow moving with a great deal of skill.

ScottyR on Dec 4, 2008


#5 - HAHAHA! Spot on. I wouldn't put Forster in charge of action again for a LONG time. The editing and direction in Quantum was shocking...

mrbobbyboy on Dec 4, 2008


HAHahahahah@ 5 But #4. I'd actually like to see Uwe Boll direct a good movie with a budget. The only reason his movies fucking suck is because he writes them.

REAL6 on Dec 4, 2008


What a disaster this will be. The source material is great. I loved Strazinskyi's work on Babylon 5 but really Marc Foster! The guy doesn't have a clue about action and will therefore copy the latest fad for filming zombie action. Hence we can expect more '28 weeks later' shaky cam, fast editing and ridiculously loud music to accompany every action scene that will be thus devoid of any tension and excitement. What a waste.

Payne by name on Dec 4, 2008


Payne By Name s a total idiot. Dude I've read the book... have you? Did you read the article? It's not an action book. It's not action packed at all. The retelling of a guy writing a book AFTER everything had happened doesn't need to have an action based director! OH MY GOD ARE YOU A DUMMY! UGH. I love when people show their ignorance.

Kent on Dec 4, 2008


Kent: I HAVE read WWZ and on the contrary there is definitely enough action to warrant a director with an action flair, something Forster lacks beyond doubt. And when a film falls apart action-wise it just plain falls apart. WWZ + Marc Forster = direct to video.

RandyG on Dec 4, 2008


You ou guys are bumming me out. It sounds like they're headed in the right direction if you ask me. And so what if Marc Forster can't direct action? #5's joke was actually pretty spot on, zombies barely do anything. Maybe a sucky action director can make a decent NOT action movie. Maybe without even realizing it's not an action movie.

Da Man on Dec 4, 2008


as much as i dont want to agree with #8, i do.

al on Dec 4, 2008


The prequel to World War Z by the same author is called the Zombie Survival Manuel. There's more humor in it, but it is also a great read.

Cube on Dec 4, 2008


I like everything about this aside from the Bourne-Identity thing. I want this to be epic, like Children of Men meets The Day After Tommorow or something. No fast cuts or cheap editing to lessen the effect of seeing a 10-million strong zombie horde on screen. Sheer creeping horror and the bizzare industry of surviving and eventually defeating the zombie threat. I'd love to see it set during the 'clean up' years with a squad pushing down from the mountains. But that doesnt look likely.

Calum Mor on Dec 5, 2008


I read Zombie Survival Guide, but I haven't read WWZ yet. I'm a zombie genre fan and I really really hope this comes out being excellent because any more failed zombie movies and the film industry will just throw up their arms and give up on them. Anyone see Romero's new zombie movies, Land and Diary of the Dead? Or how about 28 Weeks Later? Those things were awful. Last good zombie movie was the Dawn of the Dead remake, and even then I had a couple issues with it. It's not hard people! Zombies + gore + culture commentary + fear of death = good effing start. And I'm hoping these are flesh eating zombies, not the "I'm angry and hit stuff" type.

Syphous on Dec 5, 2008


I really hope the zombies are the classic Romero-type slow zombies with Snyder's Dawn quality make-up. The fast ones are nice and all, but I think it's more of a challenge to make their original form scary again. Anybody play Call of Duty 5's Nazi Zombie mission? Freaky...

Frame on Dec 5, 2008


The book is actually very good, and as they said, the central character is the reporter interviewing several survivors. And from what I remember, the zombies were slow but unrelenting. You could run faster than they could, but they kept walking hour after hour and day after day, and in ever-increasing numbers.

Luis M on Dec 5, 2008


I've read WWZ and when Straczynski makes comments like this: "We talk about it as a thriller, the closest comparison being The Bourne Identity." I can't help but get concerned. Some of the stories that occur over the course of the book are sheer mindbogglingly huge in scale. I'm talking Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, Day after Tomorrow, 2012) huge. In fact, I think events in the book like the destruction of the mountain pass in India, or of course the legendary Battle of Yonkers, if portrayed in the medium of film, should make Emmerich's action seem downright tame by comparison. I really loved this book, easily top 5 (to sit among others like 1984, Jurassic Park, The Fixer, etc.). So here's what I'd love to see for this movie: I want to see some of this phenomenal action portrayed, based on the direction the movie is being taken in, they could easily do this through the use of flashbacks, with on-screen narration (think about the opening to LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring, where the history of the One Ring is being showed) So the action should be there, but I also want to see some emotion. I want to see stories like the center for feral children, or that girl whose family tried to go North to survive, but starved. There is so much sadness in this book that there is no reason the audience should not be weeping after seeing the horrific things some of the survivors had to experience. Finally, the political aspect is true, but I hope they get this right. Too often, Hollywood movies end up being downright preachy. And I`m afraid WWZ will end up like this. Max Brooks certainly didn`t come across like this in the novel, and I think the lessons learned from the war were a lot more subtle, and it is really left to the reader to decide what are the lessons learned and to think about the various decisions made during the war. That`s how I see this movie going down. If anything, I hope that they show to more of the world what a phenomenal piece of literature Max Brooks has created. I don`t really look at it as just another piece of ``zombie fiction``. Unfortunately it seems that this moniker has detracted from what this book really is: A fantastic piece of literature.

jman571 on Dec 5, 2008


I read this book 5x already i wish they went with a filming style like the matrix and batman CG movie with 5 of the best stories in the book in 5 different artist styles

Dj on Dec 7, 2008


Best book I've read in 4 or 5 years. But it is overwhelmingly episodic, and with the exception of the ex-Army soldier Wainio, there isn't a character who appears in more than 2 of the vignettes. That's a strength of the book because it allows you to see multiple viewpoints of the Z War but a weakness as a movie. Given the time limitations of a max of 2.5 hours either much of the book will have to be eliminated or so much will be in there that the movie will be incoherent. I think it would work better as a TV series on HBO or Showtime. Do each of the interviews as an episode and you'd have enough materiel for about 40 or so. Then get Brooks to plot out some more. Could be great TV.

Mike on Dec 22, 2008


I am really stoke about the movie. #18(jman) & #20 (Mike) has some very good points. Kinda like make it in a series like Band of Brothers. It progresses from the time of the infection in China to the end. Boy, I would love to see what I read in WWZ. From the middle east and Far East. and from europe to south america. What a BOOK!!!! Either for a movie or a TV series. This will be a blast for a zombie freak like me.

jePRoCKs on Dec 24, 2008


I would be careful how much narration you get over action. If the film is done right there would be little to no need to hear the voice over the action: we would be able to see what is happening. That is what makes film vital and interesting to watch; even if the action is in the past it is still the present. Whatever you are seeing is happening right then. This is not a "zombie novel". It is a political novel set in a time of zombies. I have struggled to explain the book to people since they draw strong conclusions as soon as they hear the z-word. This movie could have some amazing action sequences from nuclear explosions to underwater extermination. But again, the action is not the core of the movie - it is the heart. It is the people who make the choice to divide a country and accept that not everyone is going to be saved in order preserve an entire species. Hell, Brooks makes the case that every living thing on Earth is in danger from the Zachs, except for the golden mole rats in the desert. Producers did everything they could to turn Tom Clancy novels into movies. Clancy wrote a novel called "Red Storm Rising" at detailed WWIII all over the globe. They never turned that into a movie because it was too epic a scale to be done. WWZ is a much shorter work with a much clearer thesis in mind. But it will still need to be handled skillfully. Good luck and best wishes to they who are chosen. PS I wouldn't mind scouting locations for them under the snow line.

drama guy on Jan 6, 2009


hey what's up i'm aware of the fact that this post is from over 4 months ago, but i have some interesting news. a swiss friend of mine is currently assisting marc forster at his paramaount pictures studio set in los angeles. looking at the pictures, this could easily be the shooting of world war z. check it out here: cheers garreth

garreth on Apr 28, 2009


I hope this movie isn't "children of men with zombies", because children of men sucked.

satchel on Aug 9, 2009


Let me see, Sam goddam Worthintong's gonna be in it right? As an Aussie zombie slayer or something.

Farce on Oct 30, 2009

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