The Oatmeal on World War Z


Alright, I don’t like swiping comics from people, particularly someone I like as much as The Oatmeal, so hurry and click on this link so I know I’m at least sending some traffic his way.

But I did want to discuss his graph-based take on World War Z, which is a common complaint I’m seeing from people who read the book. Indeed there is very, very little carried over from Max Brook’s original, phenomenal novel, other than the title. There are one or two things, but it’s maybe 5% of the film at most comes from the book. Even the zombies themselves aren’t the same kind.

This said, I’m not convinced World War Z could have ever worked as a faithful interpretation of the book. It would have to be about 40 different stories all cut together, which is fine in text form, but would wreck havoc with narrative onscreen unless the movie was a lengthy series of short, narrated films or a miniseries. But they wanted an action blockbuster.

And they gave us a pretty damn good action blockbuster, which is why I liked the film despite its dissimilarity to the book I loved. This is mostly a branding issue. They bought the rights to the book so they could use a name that A) people sort of recognized and B) was super awesome sounding. What, were they going to call it “Zombieggedon” or something?

This plays into Hollywood’s obsession with name recognizably. Ever wonder why they bothered to buy the rights to Battleship, a board game with no plot, in order to make a movie about ships fighting aliens? Couldn’t they have done that without paying anyone any money? Sure, but it’s the name they bought, however silly the association. People recognized it, and that’s what happened with World War Z. It’s not the book, but fortunately, it wasn’t an altogether terrible film either.

  • John G.

    It would not be difficult to make a movie based on more than the title. You don’t have to include every single POV from the book, but hit on a few of the major ones, and include at least something from the books.

    Brad Pitt could still be the focus. He could be interviewing the people who tell their stories, and have some of the same adventures he did in the movie, but you could still include the stories, the weapons, and the feel of the book.

  • Lima Zulu

    Pretty sure the Battle of Yonkers’d’ve pissed off moviegoers, though. It stretches suspension of disbelief to the breaking point.

  • Wilm

    I always felt the book was too silly anyways, like Lima said, it requires a huge suspension of disbelief to even enjoy the work.