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World War Z synopsis suggests movie may approach difficulty of adapting book by pretty much just ditching it

Despite boasting the automatic cash-spewing plot of a zombie apocalypse, Max Brooks’ World War Z seemed an unlikely candidate for adaptation because of the way it strove to be unlike all other zombie apocalypse tales—seeking instead to understand who these zombies were and why they were apocalypsing, and examining its after-effects on society from a historical or even philosophical perspective. This—combined with World War Z’s sprawling global narrative of interconnected vignettes, and a main character that mostly serves as a passive narrator—does not a typical zombie movie make. So Paramount seems to have found a way around that in its Brad Pitt-starring, Marc Foster-directed version: Make a typical zombie movie anyway.

According to the studio’s recently released synopsis, World War Z now “revolves around United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Pitt), who traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments and threatening to decimate humanity itself.” Because why go to the trouble of casting Brad Pitt if you’re just going to have him interviewing people? After all, audiences would only spend the entire film saying, “Why is Brad Pitt just sitting there during this zombie outbreak, rather than racing time to stop it?”


Now, despite the collective freaking out of the Internet, this is still only a one-sentence synopsis in a press release, and quite possibly it’s all just the work of a single marketing person tasked with condensing a complex narrative into recognizably exciting buzzwords, and who also apparently believes “decimate” is a synonym for “destroy entirely.” But if at all accurate, it does suggest that World War Z will be a rather run-of-the-mill version of its source material—which is saying a lot for a zombie movie.

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