Word is out, via AICN (warning: potential spoilers), that the script for Max Brooks's World War Z is pretty solid. I read the book back when it hit shelves, and absolutely loved it. The news of a film adaptation, while not surprising, was a little disconcerting for a couple of reasons.
- Zombie movies, by their very nature, have to be small. A worldwide tragedy is hard to capture in a film because films have to tell stories, which require characters who traverse arcs. That's why all the best zombie movies typically take place in confined environments (think: mall, military bunker, etc.). In those spaces, we as viewers can experience the zombie attack as if we were also under attack.
- A corollary to this is that zombie movies tend to focus in on one or two main characters, and their experience of the event. Diary of the Dead may have been the most sweeping in its attempts to take the film to a bigger level, but there was still a main cadre of characters. The exploration of the rest of the world's experience was shown through found footage and news broadcasts.
- Brooks's novel throws all that out the window, and instead provides a panoramic view of the "Z-War." Every chapter jumps to a different part of the world and a different character who experiences the violence in a new way. It's sort of like a Romero film meets a Robert Altman film, except without all the serendipitous meetings and crossings of paths. This works in the book, because it is framed well, or at least adequately enough for the reader, but on film there will need to be a stronger unifying thread (and therefore unifying character and lead actor), which could derail much of what made World War Z work in the first place.
Needless to say, we'll be keeping our eyes on this production as it develops. Brad Pitt's company, Plan B, emerged victorious from the bidding war over the book's rights, which means he could be getting involved on the acting end. From what AICN had to say, it sounds like the direction right now is positive, and so we could be in for a real treat.