Let me begin by saying that I am both a reader and a film buff. Having read the wonderful book that Max Brooks produced has been a pleasure, and learning that it was being adapted to film blew my mind. Upon learning production was delayed piqued my curiosity all the more. I should have known better.
Let us begin with a synopsis of the book. Max is a reporter who interviews many of the heavy hitters in the post war on Zack. He learns of many people who had the will and courage to make difficult decisions when the chips were down and tells their story. The humor, logistics, and strategic foresight show that Mr. Brooks really did his homework. The book is a complete and undeniable triumph in the genre. Not only is it compelling, it also shows the ineffable spirit of the human condition to survive against all odds.
The movie follows a former military operative and his family, a whole new story in the WWZ universe. It begins in Philadelphia, the man and his family on a drive to the unreachable “grandmas house.” All hell breaks loose when our hero finds the 12 second count for the virus to spread from bite to complete infection. Later, his daughter has an asthma attack and the parents have no backup inhalers. They raid a grocery store, have a Mexican stand off with some dude behind the pharmacy counter. Once they leave, they find an apartment building where a nice latino family take them in. The latino family dies, save their little boy who is adopted by the hero and his family. Not a bad start, a little weak in the pathology department and the preparedness of a mindful father who is ex-military. Already we find holes in the compared plots. I was still hopeful.
The movie goes on, people die and dismembered fingers move. We then begin to see the Zack swarm move like a tidal wave… yes I know it is not literal… the imagery is striking. Then the emaciated Arab boy sits unharmed and unnoticed among the swarm. Foreshadowing!
Anyway, our hero then goes to a CDC or WHO or whatever building, where he is welcomed and finds the “cure” by injecting himself with Hepatitis. The whole idea is that Zack can tell if someone is “terminal” and is therefore uninterested and unable to turn the victim. Thus saving the human race by having a stronger viral infection than the Z virus.
What are the key differences? The the book, humanity made a mad dash toward survival by doing what we do best… surviving. We fight tooth and nail for survival and find ourselves nearly wiped out but in better shape than we began. It shows the human condition, it shows tenacity and strength. Nothing breaks us in the end and we go from being our own worst enemy to being our own strongest ally. Though altruistic, very well done and inspiring.
The movie shows us that though it takes a minute for blood to circulate the whole our bodies, the virus can replicate and destroy us in 12 seconds… 12 SECONDS?! The book made it about a day or so. It also shows us that humanity is doomed since the only way for us to fight Zack is by giving everyone in the world an STD… YAY! Who cares about the will to survive? Who cares about the hard fight in a world where only the terminal survive? Let’s not forget the wiggling finger on a charred corpse, yes it is for cinematic fun time, but it is not Return of the Living Dead… a finger cannot move it there is no tendon or sinew to attach itself to the bone.
All in all, the movie was fun to watch, but had little to nothing to do with the book and should have been a stand alone. Fun, exciting, and all around entertaining… but again… NOT WWZ! Not even close.